Autumn observations

Although it has not been a week since the equinox, our descent into autumn has accelerated. At the summer solstice, in June, we enjoyed nearly fifteen hours of daylight, today we were a few minutes shy of twelve. The layer hens are sensitive to this loss so it is at just this time of year that we begin to extend their day by three hours (with a fluorescent bulb on a timer). We stoked the kitchen cook stove on Monday evening. We hope to put the rams with the ewes this weekend; if all goes well we will be lambing in March. Although the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts that winter conditions will be colder and drier than normal my entirely unscientific examination of a single Woolly Bear Caterpillar revealed that six of its thirteen sections were brown, suggesting that we would have a mild winter. The younger leaves on this Virginia Creeper had already turned red, a sure sign that change is in the air. These yellow leaves however made for nice contrast against the rough and weathered exterior of a shed which stands along the banks of the Susquehanna.

10 thoughts on “Autumn observations

  1. One thing I’m interested in is language. When I read the phrase layer hens, the image that popped into my mind was rows of hens, one layer upon another. Once I switched into your world, I realized that the phrase means ‘hens that lay eggs.’ In any case, the vine looks like it could be Virginia creeper. Do you happen to know if that’s what it is?

    • Hey Steve … thanks for your comments and question. I had a good time envisioning the layers of hens! Yes, the vine is Virginia Creeper … I managed to catch it last fall at just the right time. I am looking forward to lots of beautiful posts of flowers in my WordPress reader … my wife is a Botanist and very much appreciates any and everything botanical. D

  2. Outstanding. You have captured the season with your words and photo and it was enjoyable to read the chronicle of hours. It is always interesting to me. We’ll see on the winter … I’m putting together breeding groups starting in November. A little later than you. The winter sticks around here til May, so it’s easier to lamb later than March. The barn is a frozen cube then. I don’t have enough heat lamps! Frozen waterers. Squalor in the stalls. The whole nine yards!

    • Thanks Tammy. If we push breeding until later in the month that’ll put us with lambs on the ground in April or later – and that’s too late. We potentially get pretty warm and sticky by then and we run the risk of fly/maggot troubles. I’ll do most anything to avoid fly infestations at shearing! When we did 4H we arranged everything for January lambing and NEVER had these problems. Now that we don’t do 4H anymore we like to lamb a bit later … the balancing act between lambing when the ground is still frozen (makes everything lots easier) and not freezing ourselves is a difficult one. Thanks for your kind words regarding the prose – I try. School has been keeping me pretty busy and time for photo expeditions has been limited. I was so frustrated yesterday that I got myself in the truck when afternoon chores were done and forced myself to take a bit of a drive out into the surrounding countryside simply to allow access to potential images. I didn’t think a whole lot of what I ended up with – I’m very glad you enjoyed it. Wish us luck with culling and setting out the rams this weekend. I plan on getting very muddy and very tired – but we’ll be glad when it’s done. Joanna and I will treat ourselves to a nice glass of wine at dinner as a reward. D

  3. Very beautiful. Are you serious about the woolly bear coloration predicting weather? Are we talking Groundhogs here, or what?

    • We are, very much, talking Groundhogs! There have actually been one or two studies that have looked at this – the results of which point to correlative (and certainly not causative) associations between the two variables (weather and banding pattern). What is that you say … you, Robb, and Audrey are planning a surprise visit! How wonderful! Joanna will be delighted. D

  4. I just clicked on the link to the woolly bear caterpillar and recognized it right away! I see them in my yard every now and then and remember the kids being afraid of them when they were little. They usually curled up when they were touched and looked like little fur balls!

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