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.
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.
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
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
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
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.