Autumn or spring?


February’s rain has painted the pastures spring green but a cold southerly a couple of weeks ago brought snow the the Kakanuis to remind us it’s autumn.


The Indian summer which followed melted the snow but frosts every monring suggest winter isn’t far away.

However, when I came across this on my morning walk this week I wondered:


Someone who knows more about swans than I do may correct me, but I thought they layed their eggs towards the end of winter and the cygnets hatched in spring.

Too dark for larks


A letter to the editor of The Press from S.E. Hatcher of Shirley:

I love mornings. At this time of the year I especially enjoy morning time, as the weather warms and the mornings are light and bright.

But mean old daylight savings is about to come and disrupt the mornings for us morning lovers. We will wake up to find that we have lost a chunk of the morning. It will have been cut and pasted onto the evening, to benefit evening lvoers alone.

Very soon, when our morning-loving eyes ping open at the usual 5am, we will be dismayed to find that it is 6am, and the best part of our day has been stolen away.

Let us join forces and put a stop to this pilfering. We want mornings!

I don’t share the letter writer’s enthusiasm for 5am awakenings, but I do agree that the last Sunday in September, just days after the spring equinox, is far too early to put the clocks forward.

It makes the mornings too dark for larks and the evenings aren’t warm enough down here for the owls to enjoy the extra hour of daylight in the evening.

Keep daylight saving if you must, but delay the start until the end of October and bring the finish back to the start of March so those of us who have to get up early don’t have to do it in the dark.

Harbingers of spring


Forget the lambs and calves, the bulbs in  bloom and the flowering cherry in blossom. The real sign that spring is upon us is finding the first bird inside.

We have scores of trees in our garden and hundreds, maybe thousands on the farm. But for some reason there’s always a few stupid but determined birds which prefer to try to nest between the chimney guard and the chimney – in spite of the wire netting attached firmly to the top to keep them out.

We’re not keen on this because the sort of things they like to make their nests from are the sort of things which might be combustible if the chimney got hot enough.

And there’s a second problem because of a gap between the chimney and the guard which enables the bird to get inside. The fire sits in the wall between the living room and the hall and the chimney goes through the ceiling in the hall. When the bird tries to build its nest, twigs and grass drop through the gap and the bird follows.

Once there it heads towards the light which takes it in to a bedroom where it hits the window and panics. When a bird panics it tends to make a mess which is bad enough if I find it soon after it arrives and a whole lot worse if I don’t find it until later.

Today’s bird hadn’t been inside long when I discovered it and I was able to get it out before it had left too many visiting cards. But as I cleaned up behind it I wished yet again that this harbinger of spring would be content to stay outside with the lambs, calves, bulbs and blossom where it belongs.

Horses’ birthday


The climate doesn’t always co-operate with the calendar about the first day of spring, however whatever the weather, September 1 is the official birthday of all race horses.

Calving starts down here in early August so that’s well through. Lambing starts a couple of weeks later and those downland farms which still have sheep now also have lambs.

[Update: A comment from Steve below tells me I’m a month late – August 1st is the horses’ birthday in the southern hempisphere.]

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