The autumn is a time for looking forward. In the garden, it is a time for preparing and planning. Seed catalogues are ordered, varieties chosen, ground dug and manured where necessary. It is a busy time, but a time to take stock and look back on the successes and failures of the past year before deciding on next year’s varieties. It is a time for getting the animals settled for the winter weather to come, making sure housing is warm and dry, trying to solve the ever present mud problem, and moving to a winter hours routine to be able to fit all the chores into daylight.

One of the jobs that has been on my to do list for way too long was the relocation of the muck heap. Our muck heap could quite easily be included in the next Times Atlas as a new mountain range! For too long I have just barrowed and heaped and barrowed and heaped, and have finally arrived at the point where I just had to build myself a proper, neat and tidy muck heap. I’m always up for anything that will conserve time and energy, so I have decided to put the muck heap in the fence line between the paddock and the veg garden. This will mean that I can barrow my muck down the paddock and pile it onto the heap, then, when I want to use it on the garden, I can dig it all out of the heap from the garden side! This way I should only have to move it twice – and always moving in the right direction. So this weekend I made a start (I need to collect more pallets for the sides of the heap) and now have a lovely new heap. Now I just need to tackle the gargantuan task of moving the old heap back up the paddock and through into the veg garden – now there’s a job I’m not looking forward to.

The animals are complaining already about the weather. The ponies made a dive for their turn-out rugs at the first sniff of autumnal weather, although their grazing is nicely sheltered and they come in to their cozy stables at night. The goats on the other hand have turned their pen into a gloopy, sticky mess. Mud is really not good for goats. For a start they don’t like it, and grumpy goats is not a good start to anyone’s day. For a second, they get foot problems if they stand in wet ground for any length of time. Foot rot is an unpleasant problem which, fortunately, I have not had to deal with yet. Hoping to continue this run of good fortune, the goats’ winter accommodation is under construction. Their new pen will be closer to the barn so easier to feed and water them, more sheltered, and on better ground so hopefully it won’t get so muddy. For now they are moving between the emergency pen which they are in at night (it’s too small to leave them in all the time unless weather conditions were REALLY bad), their grazing area which they go to while I am there, and their old pen which they are still in during the day.