Farming is an ancient art. As an occupation that has existed for thousands of years, agricultural folklore has lingered through the centuries and is still followed by many in the industry today. In the spirit of Halloween, we’ve collected 13 farming superstitions you need to know:
1. Plant in the Moonlight
According to superstition, the moon can determine the health of your harvest. Crops that grow above ground, such as beans, peas, or lettuce, should be planted in the light of a waxing moon (transitioning from a new moon to a full moon). Crops that grow underground, such as potatoes, beets, or carrots, should be sown in the dark of a waning moon (shifting from a full moon back to a new moon). Planting at the wrong time can curse your harvest.
2. Dobackhoen’t Mix Corpses & Crops
If you ever happen to use a backhoe or other piece of farming machinery to dig a grave, it should never again be used for your ag work. Operating equipment that’s been used to dig graves on your farm will plague your crops, causing them to rot. However, some say that the machinery can be used again if a priest blesses the equipment with holy water.
3. Predict the Rain
If you want to know if it’s about to rain, check the exterior of your ag equipment. If the metal is accumulating condensation, rain is on the way. Other signs of imminent precipitation include chickens hiding their heads under their wings and hogs beginning to tussle in their pen.
4. No New Work on Fridays
The end of the week is great for continuing or finishing up work, but it’s not recommended that you start any new project on a Friday. Whether ploughing, drilling, or combining, folklore says that misfortune is bound to befall your work if you start a job on a Friday. Others go even further and say you shouldn’t even accept deliveries or sign paperwork on a Friday, as those transactions will be cursed.
5. Dowse for Water
Legend says that some men, known as Dowsers or Witchers, can divine the location of underground water or buried metals and gems. In the ritual, these men carry a forked willow branch or other dowsing rod over their land and, when the tip of the stick bends towards the ground (without the person moving it), it suggests that important resources reside below.
6. Leave Some Crumbs
Especially on small farms, workers during the silage season often believe it’s good luck to take their lunch break on top of a bale, surveying their work. However, it’s said that failing to leave behind a few crumbs for the fairies of the field can anger them, bringing bad luck to you and your farm.
7. Keep Digging Tools Outside
Farmers will be the first to tell you that it’s bad luck to bring a shovel, hoe, or any other excavating equipment into the house. Keep those tools outside, or you may risk digging your own home into a hole of bad luck.
8. Plant North to South
It is a long-held belief that crops sown from North to South will produce a healthier harvest than those planted East to West. Before you start tilling or plowing, be sure to confirm in what direction you’ll be pointing your tractor so as to create the best possible fortune.
9. Leave Lone Trees Alone
A solitary tree may get in the way during harvesting or silage season, but it may be a good idea to leave it alone. Folklore says trimming or cutting down a tree that stands alone in a field, especially a hawthorn tree, can anger the sprites that reside within its trunk and bring you bad luck.
10. Carry an Acorn
According to ancient myth, acorns are potent symbols of fertility and long life. They can not only bring you good health, but can also bless your crops if you carry one when planting or harvesting. So, before hopping into your tractor, pop an acorn into your pocket.
11. Don’t Walk Under Ladders
Of course, walking under ladders can be physically dangerous, as the passerby could be hit by anything dropped from the ladder or by the ladder itself. Yet, those who are superstitious will tell you that a ladder leaning against a wall forms a triangle, a sacred symbol of the Trinity in Christianity. Breaking a triangle is thought to be sacrilegious, and could serve as an invitation to malevolent spirits to possess you or poison your land.
12. Choose Tools Carefully
Some superstitious farmers, wary of accidentally conjuring dark spirits with black magic, believe you should avoid any tools with a handle made out of holly or hazel. Legend says that these types of wood were used by witches for their brooms and by druids for their wands.
13. Avoid The 13th
The number 13 is well-known as an unlucky number, so it’s no surprise that many ag workers try to avoid laboring out in the fields on the 13th day of the month. Others take it a step further and also pause work on the 31st day of each month, believing that day — the inverse of 13 — to be even more unlucky.
About the Author
Ethan Smith is a Content Curator for Trader Interactive, serving the commercial brands Commercial Truck Trader, Commercial Web Services, and Equipment Trader. Ethan believes in using accessible language to elevate conversations about industry topics relevant to commercial dealers and their buyers.