Yesterday the farmer cleaned all the Summer machinery - the grass cutter, the baler, the bale sledge, the hay trailer - and put them away in the implement shed for another year. That is a sure sign that Autumn is setting in.
So, what is the next job? Well it has got to be getting the loose housing reading to receive the surplus cows from our neighbour over the Winter. Our neighbour and friend, A, has a large milking herd of Holstein cattle and in the Summer he rents some of our fields for grazing. In the Winter we house some of his dry cows and cows in calf in our purpose built loose housing, which we no longer use ourselves as we are semi-retired.
At present it is 'knee deep' in manure from last Winter's cattle; it has been left in there to rot down over the Summer. The cats love to lie in there because it has hotted up and so is always warm. Also, swallows nest in the roof and appreciate a plentiful supply of insects. But now is the time to empty the loose housing and pile the manure up into a heap in the field to rot down further before it is spread out on all the fields. That operation depends upon the weather being fine so that the field is not wet when the heavy trailers of manure drive up and down it to the manure heap. As it is a wet day today that means the job has to be put off.
But that doesn't mean that the farmer is looking for a job - for there is one job which always needs doing from now until the Spring - keeping the wood pile topped up for the wood burning stove. Luckily we had a large alder fall in the wood in the Spring and in various gales throughout the year branches have been pruned off apple, cherry, hawthorn, ash and alder trees - so there is plenty of wood for this winter and we still have some left from last year. But once our wood burner is going all day it is surprising how quickly the pile goes down.
So as I write the farmer is busy topping up the supply of winter wood, the rain is still falling and there will be no chance of any work done in the fields this weekend.