Thursday, 27 October 2016

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.

There is no mistaking today for anything other than an Autumn day.   There is a chilly wind blowing from the South West and as I stood in the upstair bay window, thousands of golden beech leaves scudded past the window in a flurry, like golden pennies from heaven .

The hedge cutting man, Mike, has arrived to tidy our hedges before the winter comes and the fields get too wet to bear the weight of the tractor and cutter. 

We have four types of field boundaries and all and treated differently.   One field is bounded by a plantain (a small wood) and a beck.   This is fenced to prevent cattle getting over the beck and into the wood and the farmer keeps the fence in good order.   At the moment it is full of grey squirrels, which Tess would dearly love to catch - but they are much too clever for her.

Then there are the stone walls - this is the most common form of field boundary in the Dales and we have many.   They do have to be maintained, so that usually there are some repairs to be done every year.   Small creatures tend to live in these walls over the winter - stoats, weasels and the like.

Some fields are separated by "cams" made up of ancient crab apple and hawthorn trees or large bushes.  These might be trimmed back a bit if they venture too far out into the field, but on the whole they are left alone as shelter for the birds (and usually there is a wealth of berries which are also left for the arrival of the fieldfares and redwings).

We also have a few short hedges and these are cut each year.   Yearly cutting means that they thicken up nicely and so provide perfect nesting sites for small birds; earlier this year we had three pairs of yellowhammers and their offspring at our birdtable and all nested in these hedges.

Some people object to these hedges being cut, but we have fields full of over-wintering Swaledale sheep with long, matted wool.   These hedges by Autumn are full of the briars of blackberries.  Sheep and briars do not mix and the more they twist and turn when they get caught, the worse situation they get into.
So it really is essential to keep them trimmed.

This Sunday we put our clocks back for one hour - then it will be dark by five in the evening and although an hour lighter in the morning, this never seems to make a lot of difference.   Yes, we are really entering what my mother used to call 'the dark days before Christmas'.

23 comments:

donna baker said...

Sounds beautiful Pat. I don't know when our time changes. Don't like the early darkening, but do like it light earlier. Oh those rock fences must be beautiful. We don't have those around here. All barbed wire with an occasional wood fence. They are even making plastic fence rails and posts which look okay, but I've seen many broken down from deer crossing. I was just out taking photos of the mists on the lake and a little bit of fall color. It has been warm still and not much coloring.

Elizabeth said...

What a beautifully poetic essay!
Yes, I love the dark days leading
Loved the descriptions of the field boundaries.up to Christmas.

Derek Faulkner said...

I must say that the fact of it getting light an hour earlier in the morning for a while longer, suits me as an early riser and marsh walker. Seems that you are still lucky enough to get the seasons as they should be up there. Down here we seem to have dropped into a kind of six month Winter/Spring and a six month Summer/Autumn and it's confusing the wildlife as much as us.

Gail, northern California said...

"....like golden pennies from heaven..." What a lovely way to describe your view from upstairs.

And how kind of you to describe the various field boundaries. I could almost picture all of it and felt like I was there. And, like clockwork, there was Mike, the hedge trimmer. Those dependable men who know what they're doing are priceless.

Sue in Suffolk said...

We were out in the country today so really saw Autumn arriving, although I can't say I'm keen for the clocks to change.

There is nothing so hopeless as a sheep caught in a bramble!

Heather said...

It was quite grey this morning but the gold of the field maple leaves brightened everything beautifully.
You certainly can't leave brambles untrimmed, they would encroach into the fields by several feet in no time. Nice for gathering blackberries but bad news for the owners of the fields.

Hildred said...

Dark here first thing in the morning, and the mist and fog reach right to the bottom of the mountains. We don't do Daylight Saving until November 6th. Not sure which I prefer, - early darkness that speaks of cosy evenings and fires I think is better than getting up in the dark and trying to peer out to see what the day will bring...

Joanne Noragon said...

And way over here, the same weather. There is a new fellow in town who spent his last two summers planting every inch of his boundary to the sidewalk. The first row, at the side walk, is a kind of brambly, running rose bush. Now it is overhanging the sidewalk. I wonder how the people walk past, or if he intends to trim it back and make a hedge. I must ask.

Tom Stephenson said...

Ah - at last someone has finally said it. You win, Weave.

angryparsnip said...

I am so lucky living in Arizona, we don't change our times.
Our summer is hanging on to long. It will be 97 today but it is cool in the evening and morning just beautiful.
Lovely post today about the seasons.

cheers, parsnip

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

That's the sort of care all our hedgerows need. Lovely to have young yellowhammers on your feeders

Librarian said...

What a lovely image your description of the beech leaves flurrying past your bay window created in my mind! Thank you!

Cutting hedges is certainly not a bad thing if it is done expertly, as is the case with your hedges. As you say, keeping them short makes them nice and thick so that they provide ideal homeground for small birds.

I love the drystone walls of the Dales - it wouldn't be the same landscape without them!

Wilma said...

You paint a lovely picture, Pat. Even though we are far to the south, our weather has changed, too. We have a blanket on the bed now, although it doesn't stay on all night! As I was reading your post, the rains blew up all of a sudden with a cold (cold for us) wind behind them. I had to run and close the windows and doors so the rain wouldn't blow in before I could finish this comment. Like Parsnip in Arizona, we don't change out clocks here in Belize either. No real need to do so because we are so close to the equator that the day length doesn't vary much between winter to summer.

Sue said...

Beautifully written, I can just imagine you standing at that window watching the Autumn leaves.

Frances said...

Dear Pat, I very much enjoyed reading your previous post about your poetry group, and as always make a note or two about poems (or cakes) to investigate.

However, this post's descriptions of how you and the Farmer take care of the varying borders to your property took me off daydreaming into the country. Thank you so much for allowing this city person access to a place that appeals to me so much. I love the balance of "constituencies" that goes into the trimming plans.

Our clocks will fall back to standard time on November 6. Meanwhile, I find myself lulled into sleeping later. xo

Small City Scenes said...

I love the variety of fences you have. We just have wood fences to keep the horses from thinking the grass is greener on the other side.
MB

Cro Magnon said...

I'm afraid that here we mostly have electric fences. Easier to maintain I suppose, but with all the stone around, you'd have thought we'd have beautiful stone walls.

Rachel said...

People who object to hedges being cut are wholly ignorant. If you dont cut hedges nature takes over completely within 5 years and brambles spread across the fields. Beautiful thick hedges are the result of good husbandry and a good man on the tractor with a well maintained hedger on the back.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for all your comments - very cheering on what is a rather dull morning.
Off for coffee with friends, as usual - and then on to a Craft Fair with friend W and then out to lunch afterwards. Hopefully a few pics for today's post later on.

Derek Faulkner said...

Rachel makes a valid point, apart from the ignorant part, but shredding the sides of hedges with tractor flails is not the best way to do it and often causes considerable die back. Some of the flailing I've seen in my area with tractors has been quite appalling, perhaps Pat might be kind enough to show us her hedges after trimming.

Rachel said...

I did make the point about the necessity for a well maintained hedger and a good man on the tractor Derek. Blunt and poorly maintained equipment does often lead to a poor finish and we do see that here too. My P does contract hedging and takes great pride in maintaining his equipment and that includes regularly sharpening or renewing of blades.

Derek Faulkner said...

Well said Rachel, like you say, hedge-cutting can and should be done properly. I could show you photos from here where the flaying has been so severe that it has taken the hedge a few years to recover and parts have died completely. Glad P. takes a good old-fashioned pride in his work.

Terry and Linda said...

I think our time changes the first SUnday in November. It doesn't matter to me as I get up at the same time o'dark every day. But I much prefer Daylight Savings time.

Linda