The absence of swallows isn’t the only sign that summer is now a distant memory. The weather might have been warm and dry for the last few days, but this can’t disguise the beginnings of colour in the leaves and a couple of mild frosts give us no chance of doubting the coming change of season. It rained hard today; the first afternoon of the autumn that I’ve got in after dark and felt the need to light the wood burner; very cosy we are now.
Yesterday, taking advantage of the dry ground we moved Admiral and his pregnant cow chums to their winter quarters. They’ve done a great job grazing one part of our field called ‘Wassledine’. This will be the first winter we’ve kept a bull. He needs to be kept separate from our young heifers who would probably enjoy his attentions, but we prefer to allow them to mature before they meet him at close quarters.
This need to keep him separate will add to the chore that winter feeding becomes. To begin with it’s a bit of a novelty, another small pleasure that we manage to enjoy, along, rather oddly, with watching cattle exploring a field for the first time. But by January I start to look forward to that day when the cows are turned out onto spring grass and I can stay in bed.
The rest of the herd remains across the river in Meppershall. This is the time when Red Polls come into their own, managing to keep going and even putting on weight on poor autumn grass alone. Once the ground softens to the point that they damage it (or just before, hopefully), they will come across and spend a couple of weeks in the larger part of ‘Wassledine’ before retiring for the winter into their beautifully appointed shed. There’s another pleasurable moment – leaning on a gate watching them exploring the strawed down barn for the first time.
There’s still work to do to lay on drinking water collected from the roof and to install a photovoltaic on the roof to power lights, but that’s a subject for another day.