Iím sure city folk enjoy those Indian Summer days as much as us farmers. In late autumn between October and mid November, after it has cooled down considerably in our area, some areas even getting a few frosts, for some unexplained reason we get anywhere from one day to up to two weeks of wonderful weather. Usually in our area itís only one week, but weíll take it, when there is no rain, itís in the upper 70ís to lower 80ís, and all that lovely sun. The goats, farmers, and all the farm animals love it.
After having an extremely wet year where we received more rain by the first of October than we had all of last year, Indian Summer gave all of the farmers a chance to catch up on things that one or two days of dry weather just couldnít do. For us, our water well announced it had a serious leak and all water had to be turned off to repair it, which ended up meaning a new pipe and a new pump. But, what a wonderful time to fall apart on us, at the beginning of Indian Summer, beautiful warm, dry days to work on it. Could you imagine 38 degrees, pouring rain, mud upon mud, trying to repair the well? And, it worked out so right at the very beginning of Indian Summer, because while we were working away on the well, the ground was getting a chance to dry out. It has been so muddy and soggy around our area for so long, even trying to mow your lawn you got stuck up in a bog, the ground was so saturated.
By the time we were through with the well, we saw a chance to clean out the barn. A big part of the barn, where the girls kid in the winter, the partitions can be taken down, big sliding door can open up, and we can get our tractor inside with its manure fork and clean the barn down to dirt and then lime, before adding any new bedding. It has been so wet in our area that you would have got stuck in mud all around the barn attempting to use the tractor much. Now, the ground was drying out that we didnít even need our mud boots. Whoopeeee! We could use the tractor and clean the barn. This beats doing it by hand and wheel barrows any day of the week.
And, as we were happily getting the barn cleaned out, who should give us a call but our hay farmer. He was baling round bales and wanted to know if we needed any. Needed any?!! It had been so rainy weíd been only able to get a part of our hay and finally gave it up because the hay just didnít have a chance to dry. Our hay farmer had tried to get the second cutting up and it all got ruined and he just gave up trying. And, now the ground had a chance to dry out and also time to dry the hay, so in mid October we are getting our hay in! Usually around here you only get a chance at two cuttings of hay, but here was a bonus cutting. We still had a fourth of the barn to clean out, but now it was time to put on our hay hats and go get that hay while we could.
We hauled in 30 round bales before it got too dark to see, got the feeding done, and checked the weather. Rain and cool weather was to move in tomorrow evening. One week exactly of Indian Summer. Fantastic. Now it may once again get so muddy we canít get near the barn to clean the rest out with the tractor, but weíll wait and see. The girls will be going into kidding stalls in Jan. and Feb. so either we might get a dry patch of weather or it just might get so cold it will freeze all the mud solid and we can use the tractor.
And, what were the goats doing while we were busy with repairing the well, cleaning out the big barn, and hauling in hay? Absolutely enjoying the Indian Summer, lounging out in the warm sunlight, taking hikes up into the woods hunting for their favorite treats of acorns, chestnuts, and whatever nut they could find, working on the last of the brush before all the leaves fall off.
In spite of all the work a farmer does during the short span of Indian Summer, it is a wonderful time to catch up on some of the work that needs to be done before winter, and doing it in glorious weather. Particularly when you think of what the weather is going to be like soon as winter approaches and when you get into the middle of winter. Brrrrrr.
Bonus days thatís what Indian Summer is, fantastic bonus days. You may feel like you are working yourself to death at the time, but itís a joyful working yourself to death. The hay farmers in the area had square bales, round bales, lying in the fields all over the place. People were scurrying like us to get a load or two to put in the barn, the hay farmer getting it baled and filling up his barns and sheds, just plain old extreme tired happiness everywhere. All the farmers working hard to get caught up on a few things to make winter a little bit easier on their work and also the care of their animals.
So, I hope all of you have an Indian Summer and are able to get things done in wonderful weather before winter hits. Itís a fantastic time of the year.