Old Groundhog stretched in his leafy bed.
He turned over slowly and then he said,
"I wonder if spring is on the way,
I'll go and check the weather today.
If I see my shadow between eleven and noon,
I then will know that I'm out too soon.
I'll crawl back in bed for six weeks more,
Pull up the warm covers and snore and snore.
But if no shadow gives me a scare,
I know that spring is in the air,
I'll wake my friends and wish them cheer,
With glorious news that spring is here."
The old mountain folklore that a groundhog can predict the coming of spring has existed for more than 150 years. If a groundhog climbs out of his burrow and sees his shadow between eleven o'clock and noon, it frightens him so that he dives back into his warm bed and sleeps for six more weeks until spring comes.
On the other hand, if the day is cloudy and he doesn't see his shadow he stays above ground and spring comes earlier. From the second day of February until the first official day of spring, it is approximately six weeks. So either way, we can plan on six more weeks of bad weather.
The groundhog is also called a woodchuck, and is a furry little mammal that loves to make its burrow in open fields. They are considered a pest by most farmers, who employ various means to eradicate the plump little varmints from their fields.
They can be a lifesaver however. When we had our own little recession while living on the old Jackson County farm, it was our main source of food one long summer. We ate so much groundhog that our son Mike, who was just past four, would ask for "groundhog please" when any kind of meat was served after we came back home.
Groundhog is quite palatable if it is fixed right. Every recipe that I research calls for a long soaking (overnight) in cold salt water. The kernels under the front legs must be removed to reduce the gamey taste. I liked to parboil the cut-up pieces with spicewood twigs until tender, and roll them in flour, salt and pepper and fry in hot oil. My mother particularly liked young groundhog prepared like fried chicken.