Autumn announced itself with a frost on the first of March. Of course Jack Frost scorched any pumpkins, tomatoes, zucchini and basil that had, on the last day of Summer, been flourishing in the vegie patch. Some sort of sixth sense had made me pick a huge bunch of basil the afternoon before to make pesto. That bunch of basil, never made the blender, but instead lives oblivious to cold in the kitchen, and has since struck roots in a bowl of water, providing new leaves for cooking for three weeks now. Kind of tells you something about shop bought basil doesn't it?
Its silly, but Autumn shouldn't come as a surprise at the farm as the warning signs are quite prolific. Our first indication is the feral Willows growing in the near-by creek start to golden, only slightly, towards mid February.
Red Robins appear, dancing atop the farm gates and fences looking for bugs from their vantage points.
Feral warnings continue as European Wasps start getting aggressive towards anything that moves, making outdoor eating a hazardous endeavour.
Next the Green and Gold Frogs make a mass exodus from the dams and ponds and head cross country to the woodlands and my overgrown front garden (my smart Alec neighbour had asked why the Hay Cutters had missed a patch). Walk across any paddock and you will see their vivid green bodies flopping across the grass (no wonder the crows and hawks have also reappeared).
Followed on Meadow Argus butterflies in their fluttering abundance on any flower in the garden. Apparently these prolific butterflies are supposed to head north in November, ours always seem to have forgotten that (or maybe these ones had spent Summer in Hobart?).
And last of all, the final sign is the arrival of the Brown Hawks. Noisy creatures for a bird of prey, they terrorise the larger trees sending Kookaburras and Magpies flapping. They nested in the big Gum Tree above the vegie patch for a couple of years, keeping the sparrows and starlings at bay. But after loosing a nest in high winds they left for safer breeding grounds, our strawberries and lettuce have since been prey to those rotten winged mice !
Cooler mornings, slippers on feet, ribbons of fog along the creek, green pastures and the wiff of woodfires in the valley - Autumn has arrived.