Friday, 25 September 2009

A Walk on the wild side.



































































Fancy coming for a walk round the fields with Tess and me? It's a while since you came and, as it is the last Friday in September, Autumn has already "set in" as they say around here.
Down the yard the hens scratch desultorily in the grass. They are not hungry but wander about looking for the odd bug or worm. As we go into the pasture the cool South Westerly wind catches the gate and slams it shut, scattering the sheep.
The hawthorn leaves are beginning to turn. Here and there is a hawthorn tree with plenty of ripe, red berries but many have no berries at all this year, which is not good news for the fieldfares and redwings who will shortly put in an appearance. They have already been seen quite near and when they come we shall probably hear them before we see them.
Most of our hawthorn is very old, the trunks are split and gnarled. But they are truly a tree of the North, hardy and used to clinging on tenaciously against the elements, so they don't die easily (unlike the sheep who can die at the drop of a hat). The hawthorn leans with the prevailing wind (Westerly here) and weathers most storms, although a few years ago a gale lifted one - roots and all - clean out of the ground and deposited it upside down in the middle of the pasture.
The leaves on the willow by the beck are just beginning to turn yellow. This too is an ancient tree with a gnarled trunk - it has always been there within the farmer's memory.
On the blackthorn the sloes are ripe and squashy. The birds avoid these unless times are very hard as they are so sour. This afternoon, on our last walk of the day, we shall take a bucket and pick the sloes, bring them in and pop them in the freezer, then tomorrow put them into a demijohn and pour in a couple of bottles of vodka, give them a good shake, add some sugar and leave them until Christmas.
The thistles have gone to seed. Each plant sports a top knot of thistledown which will blow about in the wind, ensuring a healthy crop of thistles for the butterflies next year. However many the farmer chops down each year at least as many survive to flower and seed!
Blackberries continue to ripen but are beginning to go over the top. The day is fast approaching (October 15th) after which one should never pick blackberries (the devil is said to urinate on them on that day, says folklore) sorry but I am afraid you can never get far away from a lavatorial theme on the farm! The blackberry leaves meanwhile are turning beautiful shades of red and yellow, proving once again that Nature creates wonderful works of art every Autumn.
The fields are greening up after hay and silage making. Although Autumn grass is of poor feed quality it will provide enough for the Swaledale sheep, who are used to a meagre diet and are very hardy. We shall supplement the grass with sugar beet and they will thrive.
Where there are rabbit holes, Tess will find them. She goes carefully up each hedge, setting up grey partridge and pheasant who rise and fly off, seriously annoyed at her intrusion. Where she finds a rabbit hole, she sticks her head down and calls, "Oy, you down there, I know you are there!"
Elderberries ripen by the day. The birds love them but unless you are a wine-maker they are not much use, so we leave them for the fieldfares and redwings
On our return home I notice this lovely patch of lichen on the garden wall - inspiration for any embroiderers out there. And on the cotoneaster growing along the wall the berries hang like so many red beads, to tempt the blackbirds. One day soon they will descend and clear the bush in the space of an hour.

21 comments:

HelenMHunt said...

You live in sucha beautiful place.

Heather said...

That was a lovely walk Weaver, and thankyou for the lichen picture - I love them. All your autumnal images are beautiful. I saw a large clump of wonderful thistle seedheads yesterday.

elizabethm said...

I loved the lichen too. We have had very few sloes here this year, oddly enough as have had bucketloads of damsons and plums.

Sara said...

Maggie, my Border Terrier, loves rabbit holes too but Mabel, my JRT cross, has to be firmly kept on her lead otherwise she is all the way down them & will not come out until she has caught herself a rabbit supper!
PS. 2 Mallards came to visit today ((beam))!

mansuetude said...

beautiful photos, love that tree, seems like two lovers (might be me)!

ewix said...

Bliss!
much better than poor buster's cement!

Cloudia said...

You lovely, choice words and pictures are a fit match for the beaty of your world!


Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

steven said...

hello weaver, i really enjoyed this post with its sensitivity to the detail of farm life, the gathering of little fruits as the base for a magic christmas holiday drink and of course the lichen. lovely words and pictures weaver. thankyou. steven

Raph G. Neckmann said...

What a lovely walk, Weaver, I really enjoyed it! I too love to walk and look at all the different berries and seed-heads, and the leaves blowing off the trees in sudden gusts of wind.

Golden West said...

How lucky we are to live, surrounded by such beauty. I love the gifts Nature offers up for our appreciation - berries, lichen, gnarled ancient trees, seed pods and the thistles that grew them. Thanks for taking me along on such a wonderful stroll about the farm.

Hildred and Charles said...

Your autumn pictures are very beautiful, and I did enjoy the walk! Thanks, Weaver.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I always look forward to going along on a walk with you! I love seeing the beauty where you live. And I've loved catching up on all your posts this week. Yours is truly one of my favourite sites to visit. Happy weekend wishes to you!

merinz said...

I love your wildlife photos. I would walk with you around your farm any old time!

Penny said...

Thanks Weaver, hope we may actually see this, or something similar.
I am worrying about what clothes but have now decided that if I dont have the right ones I can always live and die in a pair of jeans! Layers is what I am aiming for and if it really comes down to it I can always buy something.

Friko said...

Hi Weaver of Grass
I constantly come across you on my blogwalks, we share a liking for so many of the same blogs that we must surely also like each other's blogs. I have done a similar post to your autumn walk just recently and we too have been picking sloes and elderberries. Our blackberries are very poor this year.
I will have to come visiting more often.
Greetings from the Shropshire Marches.

Friko said...

Forgot to say that I looked at your profile; you mention Elizabeth and her German Garden, one of my favourite books (and writer). I often re-read sections of it and have even quoted them on my blog.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Nice walk and pictures to match. I always enjoy seeing red berries on whatever plant. We have a small potted holly that has had red berries for a few weeks.

Thanks for the warning about blackberries. That's one bit of folklore of which I wasn't aware!

ArtPropelled said...

Blissful country work. Thanks Weaver.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Glad you all enjoyed the country walk with me yesterday - we must do it again sometime soon. It is a lovely day today, warm and sunny and the air is full of the smell of gardeners' bonfires - a sure sign that everyone is tidying up for winter's arrival. Have a good week end everybody.

BT said...

What a beautiful walk, Weaver, filled with autumn fruitfulness. I love your walk and farm posts.

Teresa said...

Sigh.... what a lovely, relaxing and informative post! I do so enjoy reading about the flora and fauna of your area. Your post reminds me of a favorite book, "The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady".