Living with two large oak trees dominating the house has both benefits, and drawbacks. The first year we lived here, I wrote about the glut of acorns, which fell in such quantities, that they could cover your shoes as you walked. This year, there has been little sign of acorns. I have no idea what this means in respect of the biology of the trees, but suspect it has much to do with unseasonal weather conditions, earlier this year.
The problem with acorns is that nothing eats them, except pigs. EU farming policy forbids feeding them to accredited pig herds, so I can’t even give them away, for use as nutritious fodder. And contrary to popular belief, squirrels do not eat them. They prefer pine nuts, apparently. Therefore, I am pleased not to have so many of these to deal with this season, as their collection is rather tedious.
One thing we are never short of is a huge amount of fallen leaves. Considering how many have already hit the ground, and the seemingly endless circle of clearing them up, and getting them removed, I notice that the oak trees are still full of brown leaves, waiting to make the descent onto the existing piles. The beech hedge adds to this job, as it sheds its smaller leaves relentlessly too. I had thought to compost them at first, but I would need too large a space, to store them for the necessary amount of time. So, they are removed in special bins, for a fee, by the local authority. The recent high winds have at least stacked them into neat banks and piles, so armed with my oversized ‘plastic hands’, clearing away is a fast process.
It is frustrating, nonetheless. As fast as you shift them, it seems that another pile has appeared behind you, as if by magic. Even an energetic bout of clearing, leaving the area leaf-free, has little satisfaction as a reward. Go to bed, wake up the next morning, and they are all back again, like something from a Stephen King novel. Autumn seems to be getting longer, as I grow older. I started on the leaves in late September, and it is now almost Christmas.
I have a feeling that I will still be picking them up in 2016.