When looking at prospective land we can get topographical maps of what we are looking at from USGS. You just mail them the coordinates, select what scale you want and then they will mail you a map for eight dollars. A topographical map will include manmade structures, developed trails, roads (both asphalt and gravel), any water sources, and elevation change.
I believe the maps are now available online for free (searching the web)… Here we go: http://ngmdb.usgs.gov/Other_Resources/rdb_topo.html. There are links on that website to purchase the maps and to 3rd party websites for online viewing. As an aside, it would be pretty cool to check out the topo map of where you are currently living. Especially if you live in a hilly area like San Francisco, a topographical map is the near equivalent of a bike map. COOL BEANS.
[Just read that aerial photographs are useful as well, which makes sense. Use google maps or terraserver.com]
While talking about maps I figured it would be good to record on this fine site about hardiness zones. I read some about this while researching orchards. Basically, there are several factors that affect whether a plant will grow in your area, such as rainfall, daytime temperatures, day length, wind, humidity, etc. The USDA plant hardiness map records and separates the United States into different zones depending on average low temperature, which affects whether a plant (or tree) can survive there or not.
Whoa! Just found a cool set of maps for the western US only that shows alot more information, “since they factor in not only winter minimum temperatures, but also summer highs, lengths of growing seasons, humidity, and rainfall patterns to provide a more accurate picture of what will grow there.”
Sunset climate zone map: http://www.sunset.com/garden/climate-zones/
Also, you can buy kits to test the acidity of your soil, or have it sent off for testing.
Finally, the cool Indian lore. I just read that some Northeastern Native American tribes referred to the months as moons. The names for each moon were differentiated by some aspect of nature that changed during that month. For example, there is the “Green Corn Moon” because that is the month wherein the corn turned green. I think this idea is really neat. We could have Harvest Moon, and Canning Moon, and Sheep-sheering Moon, and New Baby Cow Moon, and Fall Planting Moon! Or Pay Property Taxes Moon. Ugh.
Other Cool “Moon” Stuff:
The hunter’s moon—also known as blood moon or sanguine moon—is the first full moon after the harvest moon, which is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox. The Hunter’s Moon is so named because plenty of moonlight is ideal for hunters shooting migrating birds in Northern Europe. The name is also said to have been used by Native Americans as they tracked and killed their prey by autumn moonlight, stockpiling food for the winters ahead. The harvest moon, also called the Wine Moon, the Singing Moon and the Elk Call Moon, is so named for similar reasons. At this time of year moonrise occurs very close to sunset. This allowed farmers to work past sunset to ensure the harvest was completed before winter.
A blue moon, as in “once in a blue moon,” has several definitions but is a term used to describe an extra moon. It has been used to describe the third moon in a season of four moons (usually there are three), the occurrence of a thirteenth moon during one solar year, or the second full moon that has occurred in one calendar month.
Common Native American “Moon” Names:
- January – Wolf moon, Hunger moon, Old moon
- February – Snow moon, Ice moon
- March – Worm moon, Sap moon, Sugaring moon, Crow moon, Storm moon
- April – Pink moon, Egg moon, Grass moon, Rain moon, Growing moon, Wind Moon
- May – Flower moon, Planting moon, Milk moon, Hare moon
- June – Strawberry moon, Rose moon, Honey moon, Mead moon
- July – Buck moon, Thunder moon, Deer moon, Hay moon
- August – Sturgeon moon, Corn moon, Fruit moon, Barley moon
- September – Harvest moon Gypsy Moon
- October – Hunter’s moon
- November – Beaver moon, Frosty moon, Snow moon
- December – Cold moon, Long Night moon, Winter moon
Reading all this makes me feel so separated from nature=sad. Let’s all look at the moon some more! =)
KEEP THE DREAM ALIVE