Up until recent years Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17th, wasn’t celebrated in the Ozarks as most of the people, although of possible Irish ancestry, were Protestant and not Catholic. March 17th for many Ozark farmers, however, was an important day for planting, especially potatoes, perhaps a reference to Patrick? It was also said that geese will lay the first eggs of the year on this date. Here are a couple anecdotes from Vance Randolph:

“Mr. C. C. Keller, farm agent in Greene County, Missouri, stirred up a great controversy once by advising farmers to plant their potatoes on March 17 every year, with no regard to the signs of the zodiac or the changes of the moon. One of my neighbors in McDonald county, Missouri, was so horrified at this heresy that he decided not to send his son to the village high school. ‘If education don’t learn a man no better than that,’ said he, ‘I don’t want none of it in my family!’ Uncle Jack Short of Galena, Missouri, told me that some farmers back in the 1880’s used to plant potatoes on February 14. Mr. Short himself thinks that this is much too early; he plants his own spuds on March 17, or even later sometimes as late as March 30. I have met a few old-timers who say that the one-hundredth day of the year is the proper day to plant potatoes, regardless of the weather or any other considerations.”

“Down around Rogers and Bentonville, Arkansas, there are many people who believe that healthy geese lay the first eggs of the season on March17 if the eggs appear very much later, it means that the geese will have a bad year.”