Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Culture In The Country.

As the hours of daylight shorten there is an incentive to become a little more sociable.  That is not difficult within the area.  The Bookcase,
in Lowdham, launches a programme of events in November which includes, this year, a talk on beekeeping and all its aspects, an increasingly popular subject.  There will also be the opportunity to meet Rachel Joyce, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, who will be celebrating the publication of her latest book, The Snow Garden.  Those who enjoyed War Horse will be able, once again, to spend an evening in Southwell Minster with master-storyteller and bestselling author, Michael Morpurgo.

Shorter days also affect the outdoor routine.  My small flock of free-range hens goes to roost earlier so they are spending more hours shut in. This in turn means that the henhouse must be cleaned at shorter intervals.  The alternative is to get up earlier to let them out at
daylight -  not really a very attractive idea!  I am sometimes asked if egg production drops in the winter, but the answer is that hybrid birds tend to lay all year round, though in slightly reduced numbers.  It is the pure-bred, so-called rare breed birds, that lay very few eggs or stop laying until the spring.

The trees are beginning to lose their leaves;  the colours have been really vivid this autumn. A good strong wind is needed to blow them into heaps which will mean less work when it comes to raking them up and moving them.  If you can store them they make wonderful leaf mould to subsequently return to the garden.  A word of warning - hedgehogs normally go into hibernation in October, though with the mild temperatures we have experienced lately it is possible that they are still around.  Nevertheless be aware that a pile of leaves may be hiding one of these increasingly rare little creatures and any disturbance reduces their ability to survive the winter.  Equally, if you are lighting an autumn bonfire check first that it has not been chosen as the winter home for local wildlife.

Thankfully our fields are all drilled up for the winter.  It is always a worrying decision to make; shall we drill or shall we hold back a little longer?  Too early and the crop risks being too advanced and at risk of disease or weather damage; too late and our heavy land may become too wet to support the passage of machinery.  Well, now it is done and, believe it or not, we could do with some rain to get things going.  No wonder people say that farmers are never satisfied.