My friend, Gary, is blessed to live in an area that has four true seasons. Each one is truly separated with new growth, temperatures and weather patterns. I was recently reading his post on Fall Chores, and saw where he asked his readers what their official sign of Autumn was. To make sure he had a decent contrast, I just had to respond. Here was my answer:

“For us, fall means a relief from upper 90s and lower 100s to a ‘chill’ in the air of the 80’s. We are granted very little of the brilliant color changes, but watch as the garden is disked under, the days get shorter and the firewood rack gets fuller. The shifting of farm chores are also a sign – the tractor and hay baling equipment is in the shop being cleaned, instead of being prepped for the field. We feel the sun heaving a sigh as it goes to bed earlier – tired after all the heavy work of heating the summer air. The true welcome of fall is when my brother-in-law, Timmy, delivers the 4 bushels of apples, and the farm kitchen begins to smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and apples, blended with the aroma of a hearty beef stew and loaves of Tabasco Cheese Bread wafting throughout the entire house. As the North is feeling the bite of the first frosts, the South is still at least a month away (maybe two, if we’re lucky) but the anticipation of cooler weather floats on the breeze through the pecan and pine trees.”

We may not have weather patterns in common with the North, but we definitely find ourselves out in the fields, yards or homes diligently working at preparing for winter. Like us, Gary is spending his time pruning trees and shrubbery, cleaning yard debris, and he even goes so far as to borrow a neighbor’s axe to get the job done. He is fortunate enough for his garden to still be producing; ours is ready to till under, and start the process of weed eradication. We have our own axe, but we will more than likely be borrowing Danny’s tractor and tiller to begin the job. The only difference between Gary and us is that we get to ‘borrow’ Danny as well, to do the work.

Our biggest chore on the Plantation is gathering, cutting, blocking, splitting and stacking firewood. Wood is our only means of heating our house, so the more we have the better. It’s also probably one of the more back-breaking jobs we have, as well as one of the most important. If we are low to running out, we imitate Gary in our hunt for more: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”. And trust me. We have been up in the North pasture, in the pouring down rain, cutting a downed tree, blocking it up and loading it onto a trailer, just to shore up the holes on the wood racks.

All the hard work is well worth it though, especially on those rare winter nights when the temperatures dip into the high twenties and it’s raining like the dickens outside. Those are the times when a cup of hot tea, a good book and a warm fire is more than welcome.

Rumor has it that it will be around 49 degrees Saturday morning. A bit unusual around here, as it usually doesn’t get that chilly until later in October. But after having to all the other fall chores around here in the heat and humidity, it will be more than welcomed with open arms.      Which reminds me. I’d better go double check the wood racks. If Old Man Winter is planning an early arrival, I want to be ready.

I will follow in Gary’s footsteps and ask my readers: What signals Autumn for you? What is your favorite cool weather past time? How do you get ready at your house for the colder weather? Please let me know. And if you find yourself with extra time at the computer, let me suggest that you head over to Le Ferme Sabloneuse and read some of Gary’s posts. Scroll down to read his Early Autumn posts, or just scroll through and read his take on Small Farms and other wonderful thoughts.  If anyone needs a warm fire, a mug of hot tea and a good book, it’s all of those guys up North!