Yes! It's official! Autumn is here!
How do I know? Well, for a start - the swifts have gone. Suddenly one day there are no aerial manouvres above our house. Crafty Green Poet remarks also how early they have gone from her neck of the woods. Are they trying to tell us something?
Then there are the swallows. We had about eight nests in our various sheds and barns. Isn't it amazing how they return to the same place each year (and what a joy it is to see them arrive on or about April 21st)? Now there are about a hundred - some flying, swooping, head-hunting the farm cats - some sitting on the wire waiting to be fed - but when we get up in the morning they are all in long rows along the wire. In a short time they will be joined by hundreds of others so that the wires are full. I think we must be a stopping-off-place for swallows coming down from the North.
Then there is the heavy dew. We are now able to hay-make as the weather has improved, although at this time of the year and given that the grass is pretty dead and worn out at the roots, it is more likely to be haylage. But we can't start shaking the grass up until nearly lunch time as it is so heavy with dew.
All the berries have been eaten off our rowan tree - young, jolly, brown starlings and blackbirds aplenty have attacked the berries in the last three days - and now there is not a berry left on the tree. Plenty dropped on the floor though - so should have a few young rowan trees next year. Isn't it strange that birds never seem to pick up food they accidentally drop? (the same is true of rooks when they gather sticks for their nests - in the rookery near here you really have to watch your head as sticks rain from the sky)
And - finally - as you will see from this week's photograph - we have had our chimneys swept. This is an annual event to get our fireplaces ready for Autumn log fires. On the appointed day I take down all pictures and remove all ornaments for washing and in comes Skip, our local chimney sweep. We (the dog and I) watch his every move, rush outside and make a wish when the brush comes out (each time). Then, when he is gone, I wipe, polish, clean the windows (I am ashamed to say I only clean the inside after the sweep has been!) and everywhere is ready for the first fire of Autumn - whenever that should be necessary. Lovely feeling when it is all done - almost worth the hard work!!