October 25th, 2009


According to the calendar, it has been fall for over a month now, but I have not been willing to accede the passing of summer until this week. Wind and rain have stripped the trees and the maples are done with releasing their helicopter seeds. fall-mapleThe only green left is the dark green of the firs and hemlocks. There are still a few red and yellow leaves in patches on the maples.

Fall is hard to pinpoint now because we don’t perform many of the fall rituals anymore– no shocking and threshing wheat and oats, no fall silo filing, no hog butchering, no hauling fire wood into the wood shed. I picked the corn two weeks ago and Rebecca froze it. Yesterday, I dug our few potatoes, nothing compared to the acres of potatoes my grandpa dug when he was declared potato king of Whatcom County.

Next weekend, if the weather is not too nasty, I’ll put the mower on the tractor and mow down the corn stalks, then hitch up the rototiller and turn them under.

Leaves are only patches in the wind break.

Leaves are only patches in the wind break.

I hope that all works out. In the old days, we would have fed the cornstalks to the cattle and put their manure on the field. I intend to skip a step and put the cornstalks directly back to the soil with the equipment I have. Dad sold the flail chopper he used to use to clip pasture and send the clippings back to the ground. I would use that now, if I had it. Instead, I’ll use the hay mower, which cuts, but does not chop. If all goes well, the rototiller will chop up the cornstalks and work them into the soil where they will decompose and release their store of nutrients. If all does not go well and the cornstalks just tangle up in the rototiller, I will have learned something.

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