According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, Texas and Oklahoma will be cooler than normal this winter in the north and milder than normal in the south. Coldest weather is predicted in January. I believe they hit that one square on the nose. Late December and early January also get the most snow.

Summer will be hot, by the way, and dry, except for Oklahoma, which will have a bit more rainfall than usual. Folks down in the Rio Grande Valley can look forward to another bone-dry year, again. The Hill Country promises to be a bit parched. Of course the local weatherman said last week that since El Nino has left the building most of Texas is in for more drought. Predicting a dry spell in Texas seems a pretty good bet most of the time.

Hottest temperature for the Southwest will occur in mid- and late June, early and late July and early August. In other words, summer will be hot. The report indicates a warm September and October, too.

Sounds like a typical year in the Southwest — intermittent cold with some snow and ice in the wintertime and hot weather with very little rain in the summer.

I bring this up because many of you are making cropping decisions for 2007 and I thought you might need weather data to decide which crops to plant, when to plant them and when to expect them to wither away in the sweltering sun.

I'd recommend not reducing coverage on your muti-peril crop insurance.

While searching through this volume for useful weather information I also stumbled across a few other gems that might be of use to some of you. For instance, any of you 55 years old or older can get lots of free stuff from the government. You may qualify for “valuable free information,” if you're becoming more forgetful. I think I qualify but don't really remember if I do or not.

You can get free information about depression, high blood pressure, and other medical issues. You could also just go to your doctor, and then you wouldn't have to pay for the book that contains all the free information.

Free legal help is also available, a service I might need if the folks who put the Almanac together ever discover what I do to their information.

You can get free money, too. The booklet containing the secrets to acquiring all this help costs only $12.95, plus postage and handling (I wonder how much is it really worth to handle a package? I guess it depends on the package.)

I've come to the conclusion that the best way to get free money is to sell a book explaining how to get free stuff in the mail.

Speaking of weather, which we were about eight or nine paragraphs up, I witnessed a little High Plains weather last weekend. I saw some of that good old Lubbock reddish orange dust. Oddly enough, I was fishing in Southeast Oklahoma at the time and only glimpsed it for a second as 50 mile per hour winds took it on into Arkansas.

The Almanac didn't warn me about that.