There is a popular but erroneous belief that farmers take a break during the winter months. I wish it were true. After a period when patience was required when the ground was still too hard and dry to cultivate, drill and roll the crops are now in the ground and we can start on the jobs which have been put on one side during the time of long daylight hours. The pond, where ducks nest and rear their young in the spring, has dried out sufficiently for us to be able to rake out the leaves and twigs that accumulate annually. It may even be dry enough to remove a willow stump which projects into the water when the pond is full. Ideally the surrounding willow should be pollarded regularly but this is a job for a tree surgeon and, being costly, is low on the priority list. The farmstead is surrounded by many mature beech, ash and sycamore trees which provide shade in the summer, welcome protection from the wind in winter and of course, look beautiful in the autumn. They do, however, produce an awful lot of leaves which almost invariably collect in the gutters and courtyard, making the place look neglected and untidy – another job to be tackled.
The bird feeders require replenishing regularly now, including the niger seed holder which has had no visitors for at least six weeks. Goldfinches, which are the only birds to feed on niger seed, are partial migrants, but I always wonder if they will return and am always pleased to see them when they do! It is becoming easier to see and identify birds now that the trees have almost lost their leaves.
Back in October we celebrated harvest with a supper in the Village Hall followed on the Sunday with the traditional Harvest Festival in the beautifully decorated church. Gifts of food and other non-perishables were taken up to the altar to be taken later to the local food bank which is, sadly, very much used at present. Village social life is in full swing as we continue to raise funds for Holy Cross church with a Quiz Night in the Village Hall on November 16th and a concert by the Pleasley Colliery Band on December 1st. Poppies are much in evidence in November as, in addition to the annual Remembrance Day commemorations, this year we commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War One.