Falling into Fall
Updated: Feb 2
“Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves, And one by one with sighing sound Whispering fell the beechen leaves In the wintry woodland wavering.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
Who knew that - literally overnight - the temperature could drop 30 degrees and long sunny days turn into dark rainy ones. Oregon definitely doesn’t vacillate when it comes to changing her seasons – one moment its Summer, and the next it’s not! Generally, I love the crisp, cool days of Autumn. We might not have hemlock-sheaves and beechen trees in the Williamite Valley, but the vibrant orange of pumpkins fill the fields, blueberries paint the orchards in a sea of red, and the swamp oaks begin to shed their leaves, creating a carpet of gold.
Along with vibrant colors and plummeting temperatures, Fall brings its share of hard work as we prepare the barn for a cold, wet (Did I say wet? Perhaps a better word is waterlogged!) winter. We turn our horses out on pasture during the dry season (May through October) and switch them on to dry lots in the wet season (November through April). As mentioned in a previous blog (https://www.willowfarmequestrian.com/post/finding-joy-in-the-journey) we used quarter minus as a base for our winter turn outs, stall run outs, dressage arena and round pen. Over the past three years we have given these areas a yearly top up to maintain a level surface and prevent holes and thin spots from developing.
This year, the quarter minus in our dressage arena had developed into a solid enough base, for the addition of a final topping of sand. Because we operate on such a limited budget, nothing on our farm is wasted, so we moved what remained of the base layer of stone from the arena to top dress our sacrifice paddocks. We then brought in 52 cubic yards of Fill Sand (coarse river sand) to lay a 2-inch topping suitable for dressage and jumping.
Another huge Fall project, which must be done every year, is to spread the compost from our manure pile on to our pastures. You would be amazed at how much manure 8 horses can generate in a year! Once the manure is roughly spread we reseed any bare patches and harrow the whole lot to spread it evenly. Then it is up to nature and time to do its beautiful job of regeneration.
Whether it is pulling out blankets, cleaning gutters, administering the fall worming regime, or stocking up with hay, inevitably, we are in a race against the clock. By the time the first heavy rains fall, the work must either be completed or left undone. After that all that remains is to batten down the hatches and endure until spring.