October: Week Four

This week marks the end of one of the warmest Octobers in our area for the past 25 years. Along with the warmth came a rain-saturated harvest, but never to dampen the spirits of our small agrarian society of Norseland.

On the farm we continued to prepare for winter. Heaters were placed in the water troughs of our gentle giants the Clydesdale’s, their great hooves were set free of the large iron shoes they wore all spring and summer, giving their feet a long needed winter’s rest.

New feeders were welded and placed in the Piggery, making winter feeding less of a chore. The ridge cap on top of the farm house had blown loose a dozen cedar shingles during some our windy and stormy days. My brother shimmied up to the top of the roof and replaced them, saving the storage attic from any melting snow damage. We mark the week’s end with All Hollows Eve, as the night sky was filled with the laughter of young children dressed in costume, out begging for treats on the jack-o-lantern lit steps of the rural countryside. For all of us it brings back memories of our childhood here on the farm.

October: Week Three

This week brought even more rain and cold gray skies, totally saturating the corn fields. If the corn were not dry and standing in the field, you could almost feel as though it were spring again with all the puddles of water standing about. Later in the week the sun did come out and blue skies covered the countryside, and with the strong south wind we will dry out in no time.

Clover our Berkshire gilt seems to be recovering from her cold; the veterinarian concluded that the cold was more than likely stress related. We are all happy to see her well again. By the end of the week the fields and pastures around the farm began to dry out, allowing us to continue with our Autumn clean-up and winter preparation. The heaters on the waters were turned up to keep any ice from forming in the hog pens. Concrete was replaced in the drain alleys of the Piggery, and the yards were swept of leaves and fallen walnuts. We finished trimming the fence lines to prevent the drifting of winter snow, and changed the oil on the tractors to make ready for the harsh cold weather ahead.

October: Week Two

The cold gray skies of autumn continue with an abundance of rain.  Harvest has come to a halt as the rain-saturated fields of corn need to dry out; for the most part, all of the soybeans have been gathered and stored away to the safety of the great silver bins of the farms and elevators.

Clover, one of our Berkshire gilts, has come down with a cold, sneezing and coughing.  We will need to have the veterinarian out to give her the once over.  We suspect that the stress of travel and a new home has caused her to fall ill.

The lanes of the farm have been cleaned off and the lawns have been mowed, setting the mower blades to 2-1/2 inches to help stop any snow mold from developing over the winter.  The nights are now very chilly and the sunsets earlier each day, constantly reminding us that the march of coming winter continues on.

October: Week One

October has blown onto the farm with cold rainy days, letting us know that old man winter is not too far behind.  Taking her warning at hand we began readying the farm for the winter that lays ahead.

All of our meat chickens were gathered together and brought to the butcher – 27 in all will provide Sunday dinners in the months to come.  The chicken yards were all cleaned out, the brooder house dusted and wiped down making ready for the arrival of the new chicks this coming spring.

The bulk tank was repaired and painted to assure the safe keeping of winter feed for the Berkshire Hogs.  The heaters were all turned on for the waters in both the hog pens as well as the sheepshire.

The apples continue to fall in the orchard as their harvest is coming to a quick end.  So begins October, as we listen at duck at the faint honking of straggling geese in the early autumn skies.

September: Week Four

Indian CornThis week marked the closing of the garden for the season. The last root vegetables of turnips, rutabagas, and onions were all collected along with the last red and green heads of cabbage. All that remains are the herbs and some carrots in the raised bed.

The great orange pumpkins, colorful gourds, and Indian corn are gathered and placed on the back porch for fall color. The fall flowers are in full bloom, along with my old fashioned favorite, the Chinese Lanterns. The wood box has been taken out of the woodshed, placed on the kitchen porch, and willed with wood. All of us here are preparing for the cold days of autumn.

Pumpkins

September: Week Three

The flight and gathering of the black birds and grackles began this week as they gathered in the tops of the tree branches in the north windbreak, hundreds of them resting restlessly on their journey south.

The Common Brown Toads began their march across the farm this week in search of their winter homes. We call this yearly ritual the Autumn March of the Toads, as the species in all sizes from small to large find their way to their winter homes.

We had our first hard frost, covering the ground in a dusty white blanket. The taks of harvesting and hulling the American Black Walnuts began as the trees gave up their long held fruit in great quantities.

Winter is not long off as we watched the trees start to turn vibrant yellow and brilliant red. Along with that came the gathering of our state song bird, the robin, which in the spring upon arrival is full of fight and bravado in staking out their territories. They now gather together in harmony to set their flight patterns together as a group.

September: Week Two

The cool autumn breezes have begun to push the warmth of summer air south and along with them come the grand flocks of Canadian Geese with their wedge-shaped flight patterns piercing the crisp blue autumn skies. Their distinct honking sound disturbs our Lord of the Farmyard, the Broad Breasted Bronze Turkey, Tom.

He responds by turning blue and puffing up his bronze-green feathers and tail and lets out the loudest gobble he can muster. The Snow Geese appear around the same time. They fly much higher and in great silence, all headed to Swan lake to take a short rest in their long journey to winter lakes, streams, and ponds.

September: Week One

This week the dragonflies returned to the horse pasture here at the farm. Their metallic colors of green, blue, brown, red, and gold glistened in the midday sun. It is curious that they lead such short lived lives – three days they are here for us to enjoy and then they’re gone.

Black walnutsThe Black Walnut tree by the east side of the shop has begun her fall ritual of dropping her abundance of dark brown nuts. They will be harvested and cracked and their meats will be used in winter baking.

August: Week Four

With the end of August comes the end of summer and with the end of summer comes the gathering of the graceful Barn Swallows, as they soar in the air at evening tide to feast on the last of the summer’s insects.  It’s time to say goodbye until next year as they begin their journey to warmer weather.

August brought a bountiful group of rainstorms, 12 inches of much needed rain and yet too late to help the crops in the fields.  Between the lack of moisture and the extraordinary population of aphid, the crops will differently struggle at harvest.  Some here are chopping their corn to assure winter feed for their animals.

August: Week Three

All the beautiful butterflies returned to the farm this week. The dark blue swallow tail, the small buttercup, and the large, majestic monarch all filled the yard and gardens with their wonderful dance. Their favorite spot was the old Buckthorn tree on the south lawn.

The early fall apples have begun to ripen out in the orchard, and the concord grapes at the end of the cutting garden are ready to pick. We picked eight gallons this year for the pressing of juice.