Monday, 29 October 2007

Autumn thoughts

I tried to take a picture of the one bit of satisfactory autumn colour we have in the garden: a sorbus vilmorinii, otherwise known as Vilmorin's Rowan. Well, I'll post it anyway - the colour is pretty even if the leaves are a bit out of focus.

It's one of the first trees we planted when we moved here, and has wonderful ferny leaves and pink berries. Not that we ever see the berries, the birds always get them first. The blackbirds, in particular, are very appreciative of my efforts to supply them with exotic delicacies: my other pride and joy is a Canadian mespil, chosen for its much-vaunted autumn colour and abundant berries. What berries? This was the first year I have ever seen a ripe berry, since entire families of blackbirds descend in droves the minute they appear and strip the branches, while I sit indoors and mutter. We hardly benefit from the colour either. As soon as autumn starts the leaves drop practically overnight. I notice there is one lovely deep orange leaf clinging forlornly to a branch. Meanwhile, the fuchsia next to it -planted with trepidation because they are so tender - flowers gamely on.

The Bluebells are managing a bit of autumn colour of their own. Their combs are reddening nicely, and they have settled in to their new home very comfortably. At the moment I can see them from my desk, and much time is spent watching them preening, or picking at today's offering of shredded cabbage or bolted lettuce.

No one has yet started to lay - just as they are reaching maturity the days are shortening fast, so they may not do so until after the New Year - but their daily routines are becoming quite established. Up in the morning for breakfast of corn and whatever vegetables are on offer, followed by a bit of scratching around and general tidying of feathers. At lunchtime, everyone disappears for a long siesta, re-merging during the afternoon for a bit more scratching and preening. They stay out quite late but, once one decides it's bedtime, everyone else marches up the ladder in good order. Lalage and Betty, the two white ones, have very definite personalities. Lalage is the smallest and bosses everyone else about - "Look you've got a feather sticking out there, you really want to tidy yourself up a bit!" When the dogs come too close someone - I suspect its Lalage - squawks indignantly. I have privately renamed the three dark girls - Ida, Rita and Merle, appropriately Bluebell-ish, I think - but I don't expect my husband will change his mind.

At the weekend we had a flock of starlings, en route to somewhere. They took up residence in the ash tree in the paddock and chattered busily. Every now and again they would all rise and wheel round for a bit before settling again. I'm relieved that they've gone, the noise level was a bit much. We're back to the distant burring of the rooks, the robins and sparrows demanding food, and the odd peep from Lalage. Peaceful.


elizabethm said...

Loved your chicken descriptions. Mine have been with us since July and I was entirely resigned to getting no eggs until the spring but they have been laying for a week now, so you never know. lovely pictures too.

GeraniumCat said...

Thank you for visiting. I'd love to know what chickens you have? I'm enjoying having them again after about 15 years without. It has to be very unambitious - no raising chicks, no getting carried away and thinking just a couple more would be pretty!