Homo Signorum, ca. 1486, from Guild Book of Barber Surgeons

From The Husband-Man’s Guide (Boston, 1712):


In this month sow Hemp & Flax, pole hops, set and sow all kind of tender herbs and seeds.  Restore the liberty of the laborious Bee, by opening her hive.  Let Tanners now begin to prepare to get Bark, and the good Housewives mind their gardens, and begin to think of their Daries.  Now purge & bleed, you that need; for the use of Physick is yet very seasonable, the Pores of the body being open; therefore this and the last Month is th’ best time to remove and prevent Causes of sickness, and for speedy remedy in any extremity.  Let blood these two Months the Moon being in Cancer, Acquary or Taurus, but held to be extream perilous for the Moon to be in that sign which ruleth the Member where the Vein is opened.  So also it is held best to take Purges when the Moon is in Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces.  But an Oyntment or Plaster is best apply’d when the Moon is in the same Sign that rules the Member to which it is applicable.

As it says after one of its recommended decoctions for common human complaints:  Probatum est.  No foolin’!

19 thoughts on “Spring!

  1. HA! Actually, if you read the whole thing, it’s pretty far from vegan. A number of the cures they recommend for both human and non-human animal complaints involve the application of warm pig $hit, human breast milk, cow milk, and loads of lard. It’s a fascinating document that speaks to a kind of intimacy between humans and animals that most of us have lost sight of.


  2. typical vegan agitprop [sic].

    In what universe is the Tanner a vegan activist? Or the dairy wife? Or the beekeeper?

    Anyway, here in the far south, we’re getting on toward musty senescence in the air, not bees. Shelves at the market are groaning under the weight of baby chocolate bunnies and chickies though, which is just weird. We’re preparing to plant trees and sowing seeds that will wait patiently through the winter.

    Sadly, hops are a non-starter in my new garden, too windy. But we do have hoppy ale in the cellar.


  3. Gotta get the snow off the ground first, although there’s finally hope here in New York! We in fact were a major hop-producing area in the earlier 19th century. I recommend a visit to the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown for a fascinating look at the festive hop harvest.

    The skunks have the message — they are busy with their own “spring planting” under my porch. It makes them very happy, and they let the world know about it.


  4. NB: when I lived in the rural, verdant east and drove 46 miles to work each way, spring’s progress was characterized by the baby mammals who left the nest only to get mowed down on the local byways. I can’t recall the exact sequence, but one week it would all be dead baby raccoons, another week all dead baby skunks, another week dead possums, etc., all as the phlox, daffodils, redbuds, tulips, and lilacs made their appearance.


  5. … not SQO in the skunks’ world, then.

    Bees are at liberty, in any case. Free to be laborious, in the service of honey-eaters, as it were.

    Not a lilac in sight hereabouts…


  6. As a friend noted the other day: “It’s spring! The Mormons are out!” And be damned, the next block a white-breasted, black legged pair was sighted!


  7. Hee. I’ve seen them out on their bikes again too. I’m now at an age that they seem adorable. You have to admire their dedication, especially the women, who don’t have to do a mission.

    It’s an interesting historical phenomena, this releasing of 18- and 19-year old “elders” on the gentiles. I don’t think any other proselytizing faith relies on such young missionaries.


  8. I’ve always assumed that the point isn’t to actually rope anyone in to Mormonism, but rather to put these young Mormons through a very awkward and tedious process where non-Mormons almost invariably and repeatedly reject them. This ought to dramatically strengthen their conviction that non-Mormons are assholes going to hell and that Mormons are great and going to heaven.


  9. You know, I share your suspicions about the purpose of the missions. But all of the LDS people I know are really lovely people–thoughtful, incredibly well-educated, and some of the most generous people I know. So if the purpose of the mission is to close the Mormons off from gentile society, it isn’t working very well by my lights.

    You might appreciate this: A late senior colleague of mine who moved from Toledo, Ohio as a child to Salt Lake City used to joke that Utah was the only place a little Jewish kid like him could be called a gentile.


  10. People of any particular religion who are friends and acquaintances of highly educated liberal university faculty are not likely to be representative of those religions’ median adherent.

    And yes, that is pretty funny. My impression as a youngster hearing my older relatives use the terms “goy” and “gentile” is that they are pretty nasty slurs against non-jews, with the former nastier the latter than the latter. Is it correct that mormons use “gentile” as a slur, and not as a neutral term?


Let me have it!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.