Arrival of Fall in Tennessee


Not sure about your neck of the woods, but Fall has arrived in Middle Tennessee. On the research station, we made it down to 34 degrees both Saturday and Sunday morning, with a light frost on Saturday. It was chilly as highs only reached the 60s, so there was good excuse for an extra cup of coffee and reason to pull out my favorite jackets.

This time of year is one of my favorites. The sun is out strong, the humidity is low, and despite the cool mornings, the days still warm quickly. The trees in the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee look like they could start changing shades of orange and red any day now. I hope that there has been enough moisture lately for a good show of colors. The calves are weaned and the cows are back to grazing all day on the pastures green with fescue. Just a few more months and we’ll be seeing young calves pop up again! My only complaint is that winter will come too soon.

There’s a big gas stove in my living room that heats the house easily with the ceiling fans to circulate the air, but I haven’t always been used to the luxury of instant heat. As a kid, our main source of heat was a wood furnace in the basement. Every weekend during the Fall was spent cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood for the winter. My dad taught me early to respect falling branches and dead trees. I even had an uncle die from falling branches, so the importance of safety hits home with me.

Dad would take us out to find trees that had died that year. Maybe it was from a lightning storm or wind, either way we didn’t want to get trees that were rotten. Cedar burns too hot. Pine is filled with too much sap and takes more than a year to really dry out. I always knew when we had some hickory in the living room fireplace because sparks would pop everywhere. Splitting logs was the worst for me. I swear the splitting maul weighed as much as I did at the time and I couldn’t easily hit the same place twice. You could always tell when I had split would because we would have plenty of small kindling.

I remember jumping off the school bus at 4:00 on afternoons when mom and dad would be late working cows. By that time, I was in 10th grade or so and would run down to the basement and build a fire in the furnace. Once things were going there I would jump on the 4-wheeler and go check our cows around the house. Especially during calving season, dad didn’t always make it home before dark. Then it would be off to feed the calves in the barn lot, usually next Fall’s show calves or some of my smaller calves on grain feed. It was always something.

I wouldn’t change those days for anything. I was learning more than I ever realized about the responsibility of having chores and hard work. And here I sit having trouble working only 40 hours each week. Anyway, the Fall time of the year is pretty special and it won’t be long until I complain about scraping frost off the windshield every morning. Until then I’ll enjoy the transition period.

Has Fall moved into your area yet?

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