Moving through the seasons, fall has laid it’s colorful presence over the landscape.
Underfoot, brilliant oranges from pumpkins brighten up every corner. Across fields, Wild Asters light up the sunny Goldenrod with pops of lavender. Overhead, Maples glow in crimsons. How can anyone not get excited about the fall season, especially in Maine.
With the annual migration of our feathered friends down the Atlantic flyway, Canada Geese call from the cove, a stone’s throw from the farm. Yesterday, a Great Blue Heron flew in, landed on it’s twiggy legs next to the Farm Stand, and spent time picking around the edges of the garden at the plethora of Stink Bugs feasting on the withered pumpkin vines. A juvenile Bald Eagle surveyed the grounds before heading back out over the water. It was a changing tide, perfect for fishing.
This morning, just I was arriving back from coffee at the Port Clyde General Store, I spotted, thru the barn window, a Cooper’s Hawk. It was resembling more a circus acrobat, as it swooped in over the back garden, twisting and practically turning itself inside out to grab one of the Bantam hens. My young tom turkey, (Thomas Jefferson), was standing guard and the hen was able to scoot under the still heavily laden tomato vines to escape. After I had run to come to her rescue, she, proud of herself, then squawked at me a full 5 minutes, asking to go back in the coop where she knew it would be safe. Clearly, my place was as doorman, not rescuer!
Fall shearing has been rescheduled a couple of times. It’s a busy time with bringing in the hay, harvesting, wrapping up summer, cleaning barns for winter, keeping an eye on animals for signs of breeding. Schedules are tight. Flexibility is key as we segway into shorter days and cooler temps.
Pieces of hay, smears of mud and more than a few mats that will need teasing out, from a hot, wet, buggy summer, plague wooly coats. I’m finding scraps of fluff on fence posts, used for strategic scratches to relieve the soft, pink, itchy skin underneath. I remember on my first trips to Ireland, finding these bits as I wandered fields full of Cairns with sheep grazing carefree between the rocks. I’d tuck them into books and pockets of bags to bring home, still full of the smell of sheep, the other side of the Atlantic, peat fires and ancient lands.
Sitting in the barn this afternoon, the sun brilliant, warming the backs of the flocks and herd, I feel like one of those 4-H kids at the fair. As a child, trips to the fair always meant walks through the animal barns for me. What I’ve learned working with animals as a grownup, it’s about so much more than ribbons or hard work. It’s about ourselves. Animals teach us how to be in the world. If you’re looking for expectations, expect disappointment. Be patient. Trust. Watch. Children know these things. So do animals. The 4-H’ers get that lesson early on. How lucky are they.
So, as we wait for fall shearing, dye pots are brewing, apples are being collected, dried, made into pies and sauce, the girls are waiting for their ride in the Volvo to visit with Mr. Neptune the dreamboat buck, and firewood is being stacked. Weekly trips to Linscott’s for supplies treats me to a bit more fall color than we have yet to see on the coast. I’m also rewarded at the Washington General Store with a House Turkey sammie, (my personal favorite), although I may have to try the new one with the roast turkey, caramelized onions, stuffing and cranberry sauce on house made Anadama bread this week! Well, a farm girl has to keep up her strength doesn’t she!