February 05, 2014 - Surrounded by massive mountains of snow that just keep growing, it certainly doesn't seem like spring is near.
Tutor, Oxford's weather-prognosticating llama, told Windstar Farm owner Mark Harries that he did not see his shadow, so get ready for an early spring. (click for larger version)
But the llama says it is, so have faith.
Tutor, Oxford's famous weather-prognosticating llama, forecasted an early spring on Feb. 2 – the date that everyone foolishly refers to as Groundhog Day.
"He's going to disagree with Punxsutawney Phil," said proud llama papa Mark Harries, owner of Windstar Farm in Oxford. "It was about 7:29 a.m. He stepped out the front door of the barn, he looked around and he saw no shadow. It was extremely cloudy."
According to folklore, if the groundhog – or in this case, llama – does not see his shadow, it's a sign that an early spring is just around the corner.
If the groundhog spots his shadow, it means six more weeks of winter.
"I hope (Tutor's) right," Harries said. "I've about had it with this winter. I think we all have."
Punxsutawney Phil, the headline-hogging marmot in Pennsylvania who went Hollywood after co-starring in a 1993 movie with Bill Murray, saw his shadow this year.
And he wasn't alone.
Woody the Woodchuck, a resident of the Howell Nature Center, and Sir Walter Wally, of Raleigh, North Carolina, each predicted six more weeks of winter.
It was reported that Woody the Woodchuck didn't see her shadow because of her "outright refusal" to leave the cozy confines of her house. This was taken as a sign of an extended winter.
Canada's leading groundhog, Wiarton Willie, also predicted six more weeks of winter, but to be fair, it's uncertain whether America's neighbor to the north has any other seasons.
But there were two groundhogs who agreed with Oxford's llama – General Beauregard Lee in Lilburn, Georgia, and Shubenacadie Sam in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.
Tutor's furry neighbors to the south and north both say warmer weather is near.
It should be noted that using animals to predict the weather is by no means a scientific practice, but it sure is fun, especially during a relentless winter like this one.
Tutor's been making weather predictions on Groundhog Day since 2010.
"He communicates with me," Harries said.
Tutor's mentor was Mr. Prozac (Zac, for short), another llama who served as Oxford's official four-legged prognosticator from 2003-09.
For a while, Zac and his predictions were featured in newspapers across the nation including the Wall Street Journal in 2010.
Zac learned his secret weather-forecasting skills from the legendary Noah John, Oxford's famous one-eyed groundhog.
Noah captured the community's heart and much media attention with popular public appearances in Centennial Park every Feb. 2 from 1999 until his last prediction in 2002. He died in April 2002.
That's how Oxford ended up with a llama.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.