There is just one important job to do before the Winter sets in on the farm, and that is proving very difficult. Last Winter we had our friend and neighbour's cattle in our loose housing shed, as we always do. When they are put out to grass the farmer leaves the deep litter manure in the shed to rot down.
The farm cats love this of course, because as it rots down, so it warms up and with Summers like the one just passed it is the warmest place for them to lie on a chilly day. Added this, there are always plenty of swallows nesting in the rafters and they can at the least watch them as they learn to fly and at the best (from their point of view) catch the odd one. Mice also take advantage of the warmth to build nests and have their babies - another food source for two hungry farm cats who would much rather catch their own dinner than eat the rubbish from a tin of cat food (although we always buy the best).
Soon it will be time for the cattle to come inside again. They will be kept out as long as possible; there is plenty of grass for them this year and once they come in they are expensive to feed. But if the weather comes very wet they will need to come in. So the loose housing has to be ready with deep straw for the new year.
So what to do with the old manure? Well, it is ready, well-rotted, to spread on the fields. But as, walking round the fields yesterday afternoon confirmed, sadly the fields are not ready to receive it. They are far too wet for the heavy tractor and spreader to go up and down - gouging out grooves in the grass. We have had a few days of real Indian Summer here with beautiful sunshine and still, warm conditions. But, because the ground is so saturated from the recent flooding, the water is slow to drain away.
Now, today, we are back to damp, misty conditions which are no help whatsoever.
Still, the farmer has seen it all before. This is the thing about farming; I don't suppose conditions are ever perfect and everything gets done in the end. I suppose, if the worst comes to the worst, the manure will be piled up in a heap somewhere with a firm base and left until conditions are right.
When that 'right' will be is anybody's guess. The weather map on last night's Country File suggested that by Saturday there might be snow up here in the North of England. My birthday is coming up shortly and I have never had a white birthday yet. There is always a first time.