Early Autumn. Already the hawthorn berries are beginning to turn red. As we go out of the yard and into the bottom pasture we see just how sparse the berries are this year. It's going to be a lean year for the fieldfares when they arrive.
We decide on a round walk across our fields and those of our neighbour. The blackberries in the hedge are beginning to ripen. Last night's half inch of rain should help them to swell nicely.
We pass one of our little stone barns, once such an important link in farm husbandry, now not used at all. This barn is developing a deep crack down one wall; how long before it is just a heap of stones? In the next field another barn has lost the stone slabs from its roof, probably removed by the farmer to roof another building some years ago. I scramble through the nettles to take a photograph looking out through the rafters. Elder bushes grow tall inside the building. It was in here, some years ago, that one of our old sheepdogs chose to die. She never went away and one day she was missing from the yard. My father-in-law searched for her and found her a few days later, lying dead in the straw. She has crossed three fields to die away from home. As he said, "She was never one to want a fuss making."
We cross Mill Lane and walk on to our neighbour's land. A giant machine stands in the corner of the stubble and we walk over to look at it. Until last week, when it was harvested for whole crop, this was a wheat field. Now the machine is about to start spreading liquid manure (sorry but I have to mention it now and again - it is an integral part of farming!) and I must say it is an amazing feat of engineering.
You will see the slurry tank in the photograph. Into this tank goes all the washings out from the milking parlour and the feeding area - cow poo and water basically. A pipe leads from the tank, across our fields and our neighbours, ending up at this giant machine. In the photograph he has cultivator blades on the back - he drives along digging a furrow and putting in the slurry manure at the same time. When he reaches a grass field he changes the cultivators for discs so that slits are made in the grass for the slurry to soak in.
We walk down the lane. I take a photograph and although the farmer tries to get out of the way I manage to get him in the frame - so here is a rare photograph of him!
On our way back along the beck-side we pass a lovely woodland area. Here the rowan trees are in full berry and glow on the lovely sunny afternoon. Tess is really enjoying her free scamper and stops to nibble at the grass on the beck side.
Back to the home pasture we are greeted at the stile by the heifers and a lovely "cowy" smell - such a part of farm life. As we reach the yard Blackie, one of the farm cats, also comes out to say hello.
When we get home we find that during our walk the young blackbirds have stripped every berry from our rowan tree. We don't begrudge them a single berry but we do wish they had taken those in the woodland first!