First-Quarter moon. Al Capp born, 1909.

Sept. 29, Tuesday - Moon runs low. St. Michael. Gene Autry born, 1907.Sept. 30, Wednesday - Yom Kippur. St. Jerome. Conjunction of Neptune with the moon. Rayon patented, 1902.

Oct. 1, Thursday - Jimmy Carter born, 1924. Julie Andrews born, 1935. E.B. White died, 1985. First World Series began, 1903.

Oct. 2, Friday - Groucho Marx born, 1890. TV debut, Twilight Zone, 1959.

Oct. 3, Saturday - East and West Germany reunited, 1990. Johns Hopkins University opened, 1876.

Oct. 4, Sunday - Rutherford B. Hayes born, 1822. Conjunction of Jupiter with the moon.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: We've just built a house that's closely surrounded by forest. How do we keep sparks from our chimney from setting the woods afire? Also, how do we know whether we're getting a full measure when we order firewood?

- H.K., Fletcher, Vt.

Answer: First, you keep the sparks in your stove! If your house is surrounded by woods, if you have a "shake roof" (wooden shingles), if wildlife and bugs are a problem, or if you're having trouble with downdrafts, a chimney cap may be a good idea. Flying sparks are less apt to cause a fire if you have a cap and screen, but you'll need to clean it periodically. Generally, metal flues have chimney caps to protect them from the weather; masonry flues usually don't need them, although they're sometimes used.

As for firewood, generally you order it by the cord and your best bet on getting full measure is to find a reputable seller. Ask your neighbors where they get their wood. Once you've stacked the logs, you can figure a true cord by measuring it - but by then, your delivery man is long gone.

There are 16 cubic feet in 1 cord foot, which would translate to a woodpile 4 feet high by 4 feet wide by 1 foot long. Since most of us don't buy our wood in 1-foot lengths, you might want to know that a cord is 8 cord feet, which means a wood pile 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by 4 feet high. Or, one cord of wood also translates to yielding 12 dining-room tables, or 942 one-pound books, or 7.5 million toothpicks - just so you've got something to keep your mind busy while stacking.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: Any tips for reducing our electric bills this winter?

- B.J., Elmira, N.Y.

Answer: Start by looking at your heating needs and tightening up your house, if you haven't already. Then, try dimming the lights. A dimmer switch or rheostat means standard, incandescent lightbulbs consume less energy. Timers can help you switch off lights when they're not needed.

Also, check out the new-fangled compact fluorescent lightbulbs that seem to cost a mint, but actually last longer and reduce energy use. Just don't break one; they're too expensive to be short-lived! Some electric companies are promoting them in the literature that comes with your monthly bill. If not, check your local hardware or grocery stores.

The laundry room is another good place to look for savings. Remember it costs least for a cold wash/cold rinse, somewhat more for warm/cold, and most for the warm/warm setting. And try considering your dryer a fluffing machine. Line dry your clothes, or hang them on wooden racks inside (especially if you use a wood stove - it will help your humidity), then use the dryer to fluff towels and sweatshirts. Regular dryer use adds a lot to household bills.

Finally, check out whether your area has off-peak hours for energy consumption, and if so, take advantage of these lower rates by saving your dishwasher or washing-machine loads to coincide with these hours. Here again, a timer switch can help you, if necessary.

Ask the Old Farmer's Almanac: What can we do with bushels of green tomatoes?

- N.H., Farmdale, Ohio

Answer: If you've staved off the first frosts as long as you can with blankets and plastic sheeting, staked just above the gardens (for best effect, keep the blankets off the foliage), it's time to pick what you can and leave the rest. The kitchen windowsill will ripen many a tomato to good redness, but the tomatoes don't need light to ripen and will do just as well wrapped in a bit of clean newsprint. You'd be surprised how long they keep this way.

There are also many good recipes that use green tomatoes, as in the famous "fried green tomatoes" of literary and movie fame.

*****

Additional Information

This Week with The Old Farmer's Almanac

Sept. 28 - Oct. 4, 1998

Yom Kippur, Sept. 30

Peaceful Sapphire

September's birthstone, was dedicated to Apollo, perhaps for its heavenly blue color or possible for its extreme hardness, second only to the diamond. St. Jerome insisted that anyone wearing a sapphire could make peace with his enemies, however, so theoretically, Apollo wouldn't have needed the gem to wear into battle. For us mere mortals, the sapphire was supposed to help gain favor with the gods. Pope Innocent II had these stones set in all his bishops' rings. The gem was also considered a hedge against unchastity and evil.

Virtue is like a rich stone - best plain set.

- Francis Bacon

Tip of the Week

Mark your calendar to replace watch batteries annually.

Cape Breton Creamed Cabbage

1 small cabbage

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons butter

1 egg

1 cup cream

Cut up cabbage and steam until tender (under 10 minutes). Drain, then season with salt, pepper, vinegar, and butter. Beat egg and cream, and stir into the cabbage mixture, reheating briefly to just warm. Do not boil!

The Old Farmer's Weather Proverbs

If St. Michael (Sept 29) brings many acors, Christmas will cover the fields with snow.

Much rain in October, much wind in December.

Warm October, cold February.

Got a Question? Every day the editors of The Old Farmer's Almanac answer a question on the Internet. All questions are archived there as well. On the World Wide Web, the address is www.almanac.com.