ANN BAILEY: Sure signs of fallIt’s officially fall. According to my calendar, it began on Thursday. But for longer than that there have been definite signs of autumn in and around our farmstead.
It’s officially fall. According to my calendar, it began on Thursday.
But for longer than that there have been definite signs of autumn in and around our farmstead.
Here are several I’ve observed:
• I’ve seen and heard flocks of ducks and geese flying south.
• The ash trees in our yard were shedding their leaves quickly and furiously last weekend. I’m sorry to say that by today the trees may be bare. But while I am lamenting the loss of the leaves, my daughter, Ellen, will be rejoicing. She has been looking forward to their drop so she can bury her dog, Rosebud, in them.
• The flickertail woodpeckers are back in our yard. We only see the flickertails twice a year; in the spring when they return and in the fall when they are assembling before they fly south again. I enjoy watching them hopping around the yard pecking the ground for food.
• Our garden on the farm is full of weeds. We are diligent about hoeing and pulling weeds throughout the spring and summer, but by fall we quit tending to the garden, figuring it can fend for itself. Only the squash, pumpkins, potatoes, carrots and onions remain and they’re tough enough to handle the competition.
• Speaking of pumpkins, most of them have turned a brilliant orange and are ready for picking. It looks like we will have enough to share with our friends. Most of the buttercup squash also are ripe and there are plenty of those to give away, too.
Fall farm life
• Our equine are ravenous. Though we are giving the horses twice as much sweet feed morning and night than we did during the summer, they act like they’re starving. After observing this phenomenon for many years, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s Mother Nature’s way of preparing the horses for the onset of winter when their wild counterparts may find food scarce.
• I’m coming to the final countdown on lawn mowing. By my calculations, there will be three or four times left at the maximum. That will bring the total this year to 27 or 28.
&bull: It is dark when I go outside to feed the horses between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. That means it’s harder for me to get up. On the flip side, I feel like climbing into my jammies at 8 p.m. because it’s dark by then.
• My mom’s chickens have reduced their egg production in response to the shorter days. I am very much enjoying the ones I am collecting and am not looking forward to having to purchase store eggs for the next several months.
• It’s football season. My two sons are about halfway through their football seasons and my other two favorite teams, UND and the Vikings, have a few games under their belts.
The evenings are decidedly cooler. The last time I worked at the concessions on a Friday night it was much chillier than the fist time. The first time I felt like I was melting even though I was wearing a light T-shirt. Last time, I was comfortable layered in a shirt and sweatshirt.
• Hot chocolate, coffee and chili are big sellers at the concession stand. At our house, chili, apple crisp and toasted marshmallows are on the weekend menu.
• My work tennis shoes are getting holes in them. Each spring I buy a new pair of tennies and use the ones I’ve been wearing as farm shoes. The hours I’ve put on the shoes while mowing, hoeing and baling straw have taken their toll and they’re about ready for the recycling bin.
Like my shoes, I’m pretty worn out from spring and summer’s work. After we complete the fall chores of cleaning the horse barn and my mom’s chicken coop, removing the leaves from the gutters on our house and picking the remaining garden produce, I’ll be ready for a respite. But after a few months of winter I know I’ll be rejuvenated and ready to don another pair of tennis shoes and begin the cycle all over again.