13 Farm Superstitions for Friday the 13th

"Superstition is foolish, childish, primitive and irrational—but how much does it cost you to knock on wood?" —Judith Viorst

by Cory Hershberger
PHOTO: Andreas Cappell/Flickr

If you’re superstitious, you might wish you could spend all of today in bed, covers pulled up to your ears, anxiously awaiting the onset of tomorrow—another Friday the 13th is upon us. This one could be more intense than usual. It’s a harvest moon, something that’s not happened since 2000 and won’t happen again until 2049.

Superstition is a funny thing—I’m not overly concerned with Friday the 13th, but at the same time, I’ve felt slightly on edge all day, tensed for the bad luck that could theoretically come. (If anything, I should be superstitious about Sept. 28—in sixth grade, I fell on the pavement and broke the growth plate in my knee, causing it to swell up like a cantaloupe, and then exactly one year later, I was hit in the face with a golf putter, and my eye was bruised for a month.)

Logically, I understand that superstition is somewhat foolish: Bad (and good) things will happen regardless of whether I cross my fingers. However, Judith Viorst gets at the core of most people’s superstition with the quote below. I know that Friday the 13th is just like any other day—as common as Thursday the 12th, as the old saying goes—but who am I really hurting by avoiding walking under ladders and breaking mirrors today, right? Why not take the extra precaution?

friday the 13th farm superstition

I poked around online and it looks like I’m not the only semi-superstitious egg in the bunch, especially not in the world of agriculture. Here are 13 other farming superstitions. Do you swear by any of them?

  1. Never start a new job/task on a Friday. (This must go doubly for Friday the 13th.)
  2. Never raise 13 livestock of one species/breed.
  3. In Kentucky, don’t plant anything new until after Kentucky Derby Day.
  4. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in morning, sailor’s warning.”
  5. Finding a black snake in the garden or field is a harbinger of a bountiful harvest for that crop.
  6. Tree leaves blown upside down by the wind foretell rain.
  7. Crops sown from north to south will grow better than crops sown east to west.
  8. Crops sown during a full moon will thrive, while crops sown during a waning moon will wither.
  9. Never plant anything on the 31st of the month.
  10. Rain on Easter Sunday will bring rain for the following seven Sundays.
  11. Anything planted by a pregnant woman is guaranteed to thrive.
  12. Never harvest or plant on the 13th of any month.
  13. Once the forsythia blooms, there will be three more snows.

Regardless of whatever your beliefs on superstition are, I think Friday the 13th is an important day because it asks you to be present and aware of your surroundings more than other days throughout the year—instead of just steering clear of the number 13 and being extra cautious around mirrors today, why not refocus that hyper-vigilance onto other aspects of your farm? Take this opportunity to analyze your soil with fresh eyes, or to reevaluate your chicken feeder/waterer setup. You’re already paying more attention to potentially bad things today; why not hone in on the good (and improvable) things, too?

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In fact, maybe we should just put an end to Friday the 13th’s bad reputation and instead use it as a day to evaluate and improve the things around us on our farms and in our homes and gardens. But, just to be safe, I plan to avoid other things associated with bad luck today—as well as strangers in hockey masks carrying big knives. Can’t hurt, right?


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