Autumn blows in

September can be a golden month, all soft gold light, tawny leaves, rosehips and shimmering dews.  Not today though.  Today there is a cold wind blowing with the faint, steely smell of winter in it.  Grey clouds scud fast on a low sky above the ridge.  Everywhere there are things to do before the cold weather comes.

The second hatching of chicks this year produced these three: two Scots Dumpies, with the grey and white feathering now settling as they lose their fluffy chickness and emerge from the spiky teenage stage, and one brown Barnevelder, still a bit scraggy about the neck.  They are going outside in a week or so to a new chicken house which Ian has been weather proofing.

I like the design of this one very much, with the area under the house to extend the run for the chickens when they are confined, a ramp down from the house and such refinements as a double nest box, just seen at the side, and a peephole at the back.  Ian tells me that this is a ventilation hole, with a cover which you can slide over it.  I prefer to think of it as a peephole which you can open to check whether there is anyone in residence on the perch.

Upstairs in younger daughter's room, well away from the predatory cat, the all-singing, all-dancing, humidifying, self-turning, extraordinary incubator, borrowed from some very kind friends when we realised that we were not going to be able to turn the eggs three times a day for the full twenty one days of the hatching period, whizzes and hums and sings to itself.  In the next couple of days some more eggs should begin to hatch.  We have fingers crossed for these as it perhaps a bit late in the year for good fertility, but we shall see, very soon now.

At the bottom of the field the wind whips the silver birch and the contorted willow although next to the house the side garden is utterly still.

Rosehips gleam in the new hedges.  They were planted four years ago now with mixed native hedge plants which produce edible fruit: hips, haws and sloes, as well as hazelnuts if you can get to them before the squirrels do.

We lifted the rest of the main crop potatoes. This is we as in Ian you understand.  He wields the fork.  I sort the potatoes into those which will go into bags to be stored and those which are slightly damaged, by slugs or by the fork, and which need to come into the house to be eaten.

This year for the first time ever we have managed to grow some sweetcorn big enough to be eaten.  High on a Welsh hill is not the natural territory for sweetcorn and some of the kernels have failed to plump up and have been given to the delighted chickens.  But there are four cobs with rich, yellow kernels.  It astonishes me sometimes, the imperative of growth, determination of plants to grow.  It is the force that through the green fuse drives the wire.  Do you know it? Dylan Thomas's extraordinary poem, simultaneously for me exhilerating and sombre.

Down in the valley the grass is cut and the field is brown.  The trees are green still.  Stay your blowing hand, winter.  I am not done with autumn yet.  There are apples to be picked.  And excitingly, even before that, there is a last lingering look at summer to be had next weekend.  Our son and daughter in law are coming for the weekend to look after the house, the animals and to keep father in law company while we go to see our dear friends in Provence.  This will be our first weekend away together in nearly a year.  I love it up here but sometimes you love a place most when you come back to it.  It will all still be here when we come home with the sun on our faces.


  1. Have a lovely weekend away! And I like the idea of a peep hole much more than a ventialtion hole!

  2. What a delightful place you have altogether. Love the pictures of your yard/field. I'm just in from taking a few pictures around this part of the city, but they're not as delightful as yours. My subject matter is pretty limited.
    Hope this is a good start to a delightful autumn. And more chicks.

  3. It's so pretty where you are. And I love the little Scot Dumpies (and their name).

  4. A few days in Provence sounds wonderful now that it has turned chilly here. I shall be interested to see how that hatching goes as I agree it is a bit late in the year. My 'chicks' are now 14 weeks old and doing well - they are out in the run but have not yet been given free range.

  5. What a stylish house for the new chicks. Did you know that snow is forecast for October? Have a wonderful time away.

  6. Looks pretty good - lovely to see those sturdy teenage chicks. Please don,t talk about things looking wintery though - I have to remind myself, looking at bronzing trees, that we are way off the end of September.

    Enjoy Provence. Sounds pretty good.

  7. That chicken coop is a work of art. Enjoyed the lovely tour of your place on the hill.

  8. Su - peepholes rule.
    Rob - would love to see your photos! I am sure they are beautiful.
    Sandy - ah me too about the name!

  9. Lovely looking chicks, Elizabeth.

    I've had my second lot too this year - now a couple of weeks old. I let their mother do all the rearing.

    For some reason my other chooks won't touch the sweetcorn I've grown especially for them but love the dried bought stuff.

    Bloody typical...

  10. Weaver - we have our Light Sussex out and now free ranging but they are about five months now I think. Let's see how we go with the scots dumpies!
    Dobby - snow? dont tell me. fingers in ears and singing.

  11. My sentiments, exactly, and what I blogged about earlier in the week. Getting away, even for a short time, gives me fresh eyes for my everyday surroundings.

  12. Yes, there was a definite Autumn feel yesterday. It's looking brighter today and I'm looking forward to getting out there.

    Do not mention the S word - especially for October!

  13. I enjoy your posts even more now that I can visualise things. I'm impressed you got some sweetcorn mine shrivelled up when less than a foot tall so we are getting a windbreak for next year. I love this time of year as there is lots to do but like you it already feels like winter isnt that far away and I feel a little panicky about getting it all done.

    Have a lovely weekend away

  14. Wonderful blog. I'm sorry I did not stop to say hello as I whizzed passed you earlier. I thought you were heading to Will's shop too! Have a great break.

  15. Mountainear - you are right. It's hardly autumn yet. All the leaves are still on the sycamore. I won't think about it until the leaves fall.
    Marion - good chicken house eh? I feel I could could get quite into chicken houses!

  16. Chris - it's like your children preferring White sliced to your fabulous home made bread isn't it?
    Pond side - we really need that new perspective I think!

  17. Another quietly lovely post that has the same effect on me as those magazine articles about idyllic country life that you referred to a while back.

    Here's hoping for your eggs!
    (Where in Provence are you going? If I were there, which I'm not right now, I'd be tempted to hop over and meet you)

  18. Enjoy Provence. And yes, I know the Thomas poem - spine tingling. Coincidentally I wen't to Laugharne the other day; very odd place. Subject of my next blog post I suspect.

  19. Beautiful!

    It occurs to me that I could find room to plant a sloe tree in my garden. It would be good to have a ready supply for the gin!

    I hope you have a great time in Provence.

  20. Chicks look great. We used to have such fun with our (non-self turning) incubator in days that now seem very remote. You talk about a plant's imperative for growth but for me the ultimate of nature's miracles somehow is the chick that comes from an egg with only the application of some gentle heat. It is pure alchemy, spontaneous creation. Magic in it's purest sense.

  21. Crikey, a hen babysitter! Who knew??? I love those wee chickens, and I would like whoever built that chicken house to come and build my bathroom. It's gorgeous! (Your chicken house, NOT my bathroom, ergo the invite.)

  22. Love the chicks, the chicken house, and the late-autumn photos,especially the one over the fields. Autumn is coming here, or so I've been told, but my eyes haven't yet learned to see the signs. Everything still looks green and summery to me.
    Enjoy Provence. What a lovely golden memory to tuck away and enjoy during the cold winter!

  23. As a Scots Dumpie myself , I definitely like the look of that chicken house !
    Who mentioned snow ?

  24. I shall have to stop coming and reading your blog, the temptation to hatch chicks is getting unbareable!

    Wonderful holiday too - well deserved, and renewing.


Post a Comment

Comments are the best thing and the conversations they produce are the whole purpose of blogging for me. Do tell me what you think!