Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Farm in Autumn.

All the signs of Autumn are here now. In the fields the grass has all been cut, baled and stored away. The fields at the moment are striped with the pale green of the new grass and the pale cream of the dead grass. It makes a most marvellous foil for the colourful cock pheasant who frequents our bird table now that the weather is getting cooler. Of course, when I went out this morning to take his photograph, he was nowhere to be seen.
The grass-cutter has been cleaned and oiled. Its cover is on and it stands in the corner of the paddock waiting to be put away in the implement shed.
Around the paddock the hedge is full of ripening brambles and pale orange rose hips. I looked at them and remembered the marvellous display of wild roses earlier in the year. Really the wild rose (rosa canina) really pays us back for allowing her to bloom in our hedge - first the beautiful pale pink flowers with their delicate scent and then the rose hips to colour the hedge as it bares for winter - and there is a third thing too - the fieldfares and redwings will be here shortly and they will flock to the hedge to devour the ripening berries.
All but the final nest of fledgling swallows have gone. One morning, earlier in the week, we got up to find the yard empty of the swooping house martins and swallows - now there are just three or four still practising their flying skills. I hope they make it to Africa.
And this morning - joy of joys - as I sat up in bed drinking my morning cup of coffee (tea all the week and coffee on a Sunday - the farmer is a creature of long-held habit) a hundred rooks flapped past, filling my bedroom window with a ready-made painting - last week it was house martins swooping down from the eaves of the house - this week it is rooks flapping up from their rookery in Forty Acre Wood to their feeding grounds up the Dale. A few leave the flock here and forage in our fields - the rest fly on. At dusk they will return - we shall hear them coming before we see them if we are out on a walk.
Two other signs of Autumn on the farm. Yesterday the over-wintering sheep came. One hundred and fifty Swaledales - already they are FTB, as the farmer would say (full to bursting) with our better-quality grass (they have come from the tops, where the grass has already stopped growing with the cold nights) -and they lie contentedly in the bottom pasture. You will see that each one has their owner's mark (two red spots) - so that if they get out (they are very clever at escaping) we can easily pick them out from the sheep on the neighbouring farm.
And, finally, the ever-present question of manure rears its head again. Last Winter's final lot of manure in the Loose Housing has yet to be cleared. It will have to be done soon so that the building can be prepared for this winter's heifers from our neighbour. So this week the farmer will hire a giant muck-spreader for the day and work from dawn to dusk spreading it on the fields. The farm cats will not be happy - they have spent the summer lying in there - mice are easy-pickings in between the baby rabbits from the fields.
Finally - I can't resist putting on my Rook poem again. I wrote it last Autumn and posted it then. But the rooks are back again, so forgive me for giving it another airing. Have a lovely Sunday.
It seems to me the wind
is your friend.
Soaring, tumbling,
playing with the thermals
on a still day.
Tacking, swooping,
cutting along the hedge-top,
manipulating the gale.
Chattering, flying high,
sailing home on a
light breeze.
Building your stick nest
high in the bare branches
for it to rock and rattle
round the rookery.
You joyful bird
with your black lustrous plumage
and your crusty beak
that stabs the ground
for leather-jackets.
You can
fill the sky with movement,
write a tune on the wires,
blacken a field with your parliament,
and fill my heart with joy as you
surge past my window
in your thousands
at dawn on a cold, winter morning. P.T.


jinksy said...

This post turns my thoughts towards cardigans-and-slipper time before a roaring fire... shame about central heating making this picture obsolete!

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Weaver - what a wordsmith! I read your post and forget where I am. I have flown across the Atlantic and am in your fields, examining the sheep, enjoying the sweep of the rooks, and all the signs of autumn around you. Delightful.

steven said...

hello weaver, thanks for this early autumn posting. your posts are so beautifully written and richly illustrated with your insights and knowledge. i'm truly grateful. i really appreciated the poem about rooks as i too am an admirer of them. have a lovely day in the dale. steven

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Your love of the rooks comes through your poem very clearly. Can't really fault the charms you list but I can't feel quite so fond of them either!

Arija said...

Wonderful days of autumn so gentle with the rhythm of seasonal chores abd coffee on a Sunday morning.
Have you ever made brambleberry jelly? It is like eating the summer sun in mid-winter.

Heather said...

I love your rook poem Weaver - it speaks volumes. What a shame that those in high office can't share the countryman/woman's knowledge of the natural year. I can't help thinking it would help them make better decisions and that all those who live in towns and cities would be happier if they understood the changing seasons. No rest for the farmer by the sound of it - and they say a woman's work is never done. Your post today is beautiful and evocative as usual.

Dave King said...

I read the prose bit, enjoyed it very much, loving almost anything about autumn as I do - and then the poem rather eclipsed all that had gone before... which was a bit unfair on the prose, I thought! Fine post, though.

Janice Thomson said...

Ah now I know what the coloured spots are for - thanks for the explanation.
I would love to see a rook as I find crows fascinating to watch. Their use of tools never ceases to amaze.
Autumn is such a beautiful time of year.

Pondside said...

What a treat for an Indian Summer morning - gorgeous photos and that poem........thank you.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Jinksy - I am glad to say that although we have background central heating we do still have log fires and have just had a wood burning stove installed - maybe I wouldn't be quite so keen if I had to stoke it up myself - the farmer can usually find enough dead wood around the farm to keep us going.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Bonnie - thanks for your kind words.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Glad to hear you like rooks, too steven1 I think they are much maligned - they are always so full of the joys of living - that is why I love them.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Derrick - sorry you don't like them - you are not on your own! I love them - they are my favourite bird because they are so full of living. Ronald Blythe speaks of them flying through the air in a flock like bits of carbonised newspaper from a bonfire - I think that is a super image, don't you?

The Weaver of Grass said...

Arija - I have just returned from a blackberrying walk with two pounds of wild blackberries.Tomorrow i shall make blackberry and apple jam - I do agree that the taste stays as though you have just collected them. Yum - lovely tea time treat in mid winter.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Heather - thank you for the kind words. How right you are about those in authority in the farming world - beaurocrats who sit behind desks - as in all walks of life. There is no-one who knows of country lore like the farmer and yet their views are often ignored or overridden. Such is the way of the world.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for that Dave

The Weaver of Grass said...

Janice - do you not have rooks where you live? I thought they were pretty much world wide - here they are the most common member of the crow family.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you for the comment Pondside.

Reader Wil said...

Actually I shall call you Weaver of Words!! You know how to handle a poem and a short story! Thanks for sharing W.o.W!

Golden West said...

I had to laugh... I, too, drink tea all week and have coffee on Sundays.

You captured such a lovely pastoral scene in your sheep picture - it has a very timeless quality. I can imagine Robin Hood and Friar Tuck coming over the hill (although I'm sure you're a ways from Sherwood Forest.)

Amy said...

Beautiful! I love autumn, my favourite season, I'm almost wishing it was here now too.

The Weaver of Grass said...

What is it about Autumn that makes us all feel so poetic - is it the colour - or is it that the year is coming to an end and we feel nostalgic?
Thanks everyone for joining in the chat.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I feel like I just spend the morning on your farm. I would have stopped by those berries and filled myself up with them. Thanks for the visit.

Teresa said...

Sigh.... looks and sounds wonderful. Fall officially starts here on the 22nd, but it will be a while yet before it gets really cool. We're still up in the mid 80's so it was nice to visit your cool environs!