Hazel, willow, beef and storytelling from Bedfordshire

Uh oh – here comes winter

Winter's on its way

Winter’s on its way

I think we may be approaching some state of readiness for the coming cold and damp. Actually it’s pretty cool and wet this morning but clearly only the very first hint of autumn is upon us so far. Our readiness amounts to having the cattle shed clear, grass cutting pretty much done, hay and straw safely in the dry, and one large load of firewood cut and split. We’ve even arranged for the chimney sweep to visit on Monday.

Cleaning the cattle shed was spurred on by a basket making course to be held in the shed next weekend; you don’t want to learn to make a basket in a shed full of poo. A severe wash of the walls and a light application of straw and it will look a bit more like a venue for some serious crafty stuff. Not however before the vet’s been on Monday and the cattle have passed through the shed; they never leave without passing something. More cleaning to come – not great planning.
Time’s progress is marked in my mind by an odd combination of events, some fixed but most variable – Christmas, Easter, family birthdays, school holidays, the first bluebell flower, cutting hay, harvest, first day working wearing a tee shirt, cutting willow, first swifts…

Swifts appear in May, their arrival heralded by a great deal of screeching and show offy flying about. Their departure is sudden and it’s a day or two before I notice their absence. Their arrival is always a joy and I miss them when they’ve gone. From that point on, sometime in mid-August, the summer is for me just about done. The swallows departed a week or so ago and even passing stragglers are now long gone. Stretching an aching back to escape my chainsaw yesterday, the sky was at one point busy with house martins – perhaps twenty five of these small, agile, sociable birds. I don’t see many around the farm during the summer and I guess these might have been passing by, perhaps from some village in northern Scotland where the additional energy required for a longer migration is compensated by an extra couple of hours of summer daylight. It was good to see them. They may be the last.

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