Friday, 22 September 2017

Going round in cycles

Today is the autumn equinox. The hours of daylight and darkness are equal but from here on after the nights will become increasingly longer than the days until the winter solstice on 21st December. Today marks a significant time in the yearly cycle. Much of my life is governed by cycles. The new year does not have great significance for me other than the novelty of the number moving on. I never trouble with new year resolutions. For me September has always been the time for new beginnings.

The view from my front window

Living in a temperate region means that inevitably we live, to some degree at least, by the seasons even if the seasons do not appear so pronounced as our childhood memories might recall. Much of my personal and professional life has been governed by the academic year where September marks the time for fresh starts. As a practising Roman Catholic (no need to be alarmed at the mention of religion) I'm also influenced by the cycles of the liturgical year: All Saints and All Souls (ditto those of Protestant persuasions); Christmas; Lent; Easter; Pentecost and so on.

Living in an agricultural area the farming year is very evident in the changing landscape and farming operations. Around here right now, ploughing the stubble following the wheat harvest. Soon, harvesting the sugar beet. Similarly, for keen gardeners and smallholders the year is inevitably governed by the changing seasons. By September much of the effort of the earlier part of the year has been rewarded with produce. The vegetable plot begins to wind down and already thoughts of the next year's growing season are imposing themselves and plans begin to be formulated. The same with livestock. This year's weaners, later in the autumn, will be 'sent off'. Preparations are made for tupping the ewes to produce a new generation of lambs the following spring. 

So as autumn officially commences I prepare a list of tasks to carry me through to the end of winter. I'll aim to work my way through them by February because I know that March onwards will be a frenetic time with sowing and planting as well as lambing and other livestock husbandry activities. There are many routine tasks at this stage of the annual cycle. Trimming the boundary hedges, clearing the vegetable plots, preparing next season's seed order, cleaning the greenhouse, stacking the fallen leaves, manuring, pruning, repairing fences. If this all sounds somewhat predictable, it is. That's what I rather like about the life I lead.


  1. Your blog theme reminds me of the Byrds song: "Turn, turn, Turn.. I think they were inspired by Ecclesiastes 3.1: To everything there is a sesaon. There is always something to keep you busy on a smallholding, Philip.

  2. Good link there Dave. Yes, always things to do.