gillybirds

What came first- the chickens or the blog?

A Golden Season

on November 26, 2013

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Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my dad’s leaf blower, clearing up the last of the leaves to fall on our property and getting tidied up for the arrival of winter. It is hard to believe that Sunday is December 1st! The Gillybirds have had a lovely mild, bright and mostly dry autumn. We have moved the coop, but on sunny days when they are free ranging they head back to their old favourite spots in the sun for a pleasant time of dust bathing. The dogs and I have enjoyed pretty walks along paths strewn with golden leaves, and only in the last week with the arrival of a light dusting of snow have we had to get our thick coats and mittens on.
As other friends have been clearing their gardens the hens have scratched their way through piles of nasturtium leaves- thank you to W and S for those. Colonel Saunders has molted a little, and egg production is on average two daily rather than three, but sometimes only one. Most days the girls are let out at 7am, it is still dark and they grumble a little, but the past two Sunday mornings they have taken their revenge by making a spectacular riot before 6.30am. I am not amused, and I suspect, neither are our neighbours. But at the other end of the day they are tucked up safe and warm by 4.45pm. It’s a short day when your body clock is regulated by sunlight. Thankfully, with all there is to be done in anticipation of the Festive Season, we can switch on the lights and keep going until a much later bedtime.
Bright sunshine and low winds in Ireland this year have combined to produce one of the most spectacular autumns in years. In September, the weather was drier than normal and temperatures reached a high of almost 24 degrees Celsius. In October, temperatures were above average. Hours of sunshine were also above average.
Writing for the Irish Times, expert horticulturist Eileen Murphy, from Teagasc Horticultural College at the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin, said that when autumn begins, the shortening days and lengthening nights trigger a reaction in deciduous trees. A protective barrier forms between the tree and each of its leaves, so that when the leaves fall the tree is not exposed to disease. “That happens every autumn and it has happened this autumn,” Ms Murphy said.
Inside the leaf during the day, the process of photosynthesis using water, carbon dioxide, sunlight and green chlorophyll creates sugars, and those sugars are normally transported to other parts of the tree. But when the tree has already created its protective barrier, the sugar tends to be trapped in the leaf. Daytime sunlight and cool nights cause the leaf to turn the sugars into a red pigment, anthocyanin.
“Normally in Ireland we get dark autumn days so there isn’t an awful lot of sugar produced and there isn’t a lot available to make the red pigment,” Ms Murphy said. “But this year we’ve got a very good, prolonged period when it is sunny enough for sugar to be produced and it’s trapped in the leaves and it is producing the red pigment.”
The visibility of autumn colour can also be shortened by high winds and stormy weather, but conditions this year mean trees have managed to hold on to their leaves much longer. And I have tried to capture some of this beauty on camera.

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One response to “A Golden Season

  1. amaryllislog says:

    I’m a little shocked that it’s minutes until December! Your pictures are lovely and capture fall at it’s best!

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