“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” William Jennings Bryan

Saturday, October 31, 2009

October 31, 2009

Day Light savings time is ended. Standard Time, the “real time” based upon the sun’s highest noontime point, is back in effect. And although we get the hour back that we gave away last spring, it seems the very opposite…

The trees are speeding through their colours and are shedding their leaves to the ground, to re nourish their roots come next spring. Orion floats high in the sky, and the mornings are bearing sunlit frost…winter is coming. I can feel it. I can know it.

Here at the farm, there seems to be an unusually large population of wooly bear caterpillars this fall. I see them every where – in the stable, the hay barn, in the fields and lettuce garden, on the porch, driveway, and walks – so many that I need to walk with my attentions directed to the ground to avoid stepping on any. The other evening Kath reminded me that with so many, it will be a cold winter. The farmer’s lore says that if there are a lot of wooly caterpillars, and especially if their middle brown band is “short”, bordered by wide black bands, the winter will be a tough one.

And there are other signs of a cold winter coming….

The horses are telling me that it will be cold. All three are quickly growing thick coats, which they started back in the warm months of August. Zippy, whose coat is normally thin, is the thickest I have ever seen it in the years since he’s been here. Louie’s coat has gotten very dense and his mane is growing out, and Patrick already looks like a huge, unkempt wooly sheep!

Even Snoopie is fuzzy these days. It looks as if she’s put on weight, but it really is the thickening layers of fine hair building up on her body that makes her look fattened up.

The older chickens have finished their molt a bit earlier this year, and they have grown in thick layers of insulating feathers.

And then there are the bees. They are storming the sugar water feeders that I have set out, making every drop important. I have been refilling the feeders one, two, and sometimes three times a day when I am home. With very little natural nectar available at this time of year, they are taking the sugar water back to the hives and turning it into honey reserves for the winter. The bees innately know that the days for foraging are coming to an end, and that they need to make the most of these shortening autumn days to prepare for the coming winter.

The technological world has pretty much taken a stand and spun out “rational” data to disprove the farmer’s tales. I can understand the transparent fallacy of events like Groundhog Day, which is too farfetched, and theatrically staged for an insatiable media, but I still cannot necessarily discount all of nature’s foreshadowing. Nature seems to have ways to prepare for the seasons and take care of her self, and I feel comfortable trusting her on this one. And let’s face it, that even with Doppler radar and computer forecast models, man is still left to guess at the future, and nature’s odds of being right about the future have always been just as good, if not better. The signs that mother nature is showing me here on the farm are telling me that it’s going to be a cold winter and that I need to begin splitting the firewood…I’m listening.

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