In publication continuously since 1792, The Old Farmer’s Almanac contains weather forecasts, tide tables, planting charts, astronomical data, and articles on environmental data and trends. Originally founded by Robert B. Thomas, the Almanac predicts weather up to 18 months in advance using a combined study of solar activity, weather patterns, and atmo¬spherics. The mathematics behind their high success rate has been stored in a black box at the headquarters in Dublin, New Hampshire. The competitive market of predictive weather has always been essential to a farmer’s operational successes, and this is the context in which the Almanac emerged. Com¬bined with Thomas’s original “secret formula,” the Almanac today uses advanced enviro-veillance technologies in solar science, climatology, and meteorology.
Originally intended solely as a calendar, competition encouraged the almanac’s supplementary material to ultimately occupy a majority of the published material. The 2010 Cana¬dian Edition, for example includes only 40 pages of calendar from its total 256 pages. This same 2010 edition featured supplementary material such as an article about green manure titled “The Old and New Farmer’s Essential Manure Manual,” another article titled “What is Normal Weather?” by Peter Spotts, and an article on botanical nomenclature titled “Ghosts in your Garden?” by Cynthia van Hazinga. Early almanacs, preceding the Farmer’s Almanac were centered on predicting the position of the sun (sometimes up to four years in advance), while later editions expanded to include supplementary projec¬tions, such as horoscopic divinations. Almanacs have served as an essential medium of common cultural understanding of the future. In the 1600s, many English-language almanacs were bestsellers and had almost 400,000 other almanacs to compete with for such a title.