By the barn December 18
Posted: 20th Dec 2018
"If there are birds they must be waiting below
The threshold of the winds, and the rooks have gone With the darkness of leaves unveiling the light.”
Well, if this month carries on the same as previously our cattle will still be outside as the ground is so dry! Our ponds have very little ( if any) water in and the clay soil has worked down really well.
The ridge and furrow pasture land, having carried livestock for hundreds of years, looks thirsty but has provided many field mushrooms this Autumn.
The ewes will be moving around the available grazing to make sure they have enough nutrition to grow their lambs and the remaining last season lambs will also be competing for the grass. As I mentioned earlier, if the weather permits the cattle will still stay outside and this will save us using straw for bedding, as we didn’t make enough during the drought, but offsetting that will be extra silage being fed to keep them in condition.
The knock on effects from the summers drought is that many farmers used up what would be their winter stocks of forage and could well be running short during winter, with less available, particularly in the uplands.
The Windfall apples still strew the orchard, with tooth marks here and there and deep brown bruises blemishing the yellows and reds of the skins. Providing food for many a small mammal, bird or insect, they will eventually rot down and feed the plants and trees themselves.
December also once saw the festival of Saturnalia- in honour of the Roman god of agriculture and also giving us the ‘Lord of misrule’. And, of course, it’s also the pagan winter solstice ( Yule), one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world, held on the shortest day and longest night. It marks the first day of winter and the Oak trees and Mistletoe that grew on them, were considered sacred.
The Celts thought that the sun stood still for 12 days, so would burn a Yule log to banish spirits and bring good luck for the coming year.
So you see, all our modern traditions are mixed up with ancient ones, but agriculture has a link with most, as it meant life or death to ancient man, as it still does in many countries.
We will be repairing fences where our bull has made several unintended visits to different groups of cows and finding the odd Dandelion flower that risks poking its head up or disturb a spider or several, but everything settling down now in readiness for the next season.
Posted by: Angela