On Neff Road: Falling for autumn

Moo. Cluck. Baa. Woof. Oink. We know the benefits of livestock. In fact, I grew up with animals as my nearest neighbors. The chickens lived in the house across the yard. The cows lived in one barn and the sheep in another. The dog lived outside only because Dad would not let him in the house. Whether we realized it or not, our lives were influenced every day by those creatures great and small. Even the creatures of the fields and air were an integral part of my growing up years.

Autumn brings those sweet critters to mind. The sheep getting woolier. Dad adding fresh bedding for their winter homes. Cows hung out in the barn more and the chickens seemed more content on cold days to stay in their house. My horse looked a bit fatter with her winter coat thickening. The bird feeder was under constant surveillance from the kitchen window. Yes, autumn was deliciously wonderful on the farm.

I was delighted to find that there are actually fall festivals throughout the world honoring animals. From the website Mental Floss, I learned the following:

The festival of Kukur Tihar is a Hindu festival held in Nepal. On the first day, crows (messengers of death) are worshipped. Cows are worshipped on the third with oxen having their blessings on the fourth. On the second day, dogs, both pet and stray, receive garlands around their necks to show respect. A red dot is placed on their foreheads as an act of worship.

In Madrid, the Fiesta de la Trashumancia is held to mark the season of moving animals to new grazing fields. Sheep, by the thousands, are led through the city. Men and women dress traditionally leading the way with song and dance. (I think they lead because, I mean, who would want to follow that herd through town?) A celebration of shepherding traditions.

This might be my favorite. In Thailand on the last Sunday in November, several tons of food (and even Coke) are set up in the ruins of a 13th century temple. Thousands of macaque monkeys feast.

The monkeys have been revered for about 2,000 years. They are a sign of good luck. Lots of monkey business.

Wooly Worm Festival, a festival worth thinking about in Darke County, happens in Banner Elk, North Carolina, in the third week of October. Folklore has it that the 13 segments on the worm’s body predict the weather over the 13 weeks of winter. Black means colder and snow; brown means fair weather. Not sure what an albino wooly worm means.

India has such great festivals. Each November the Pushcar Camel Fair is held in Rajasthan. Watch out Darke County Fair! This is one of the largest fairs of its kind in the world. Camels and livestock are shown off and local culture and traditions abound. Not so unlike our fair. People and camels are brilliantly adorned. Lively competitions take place.

Vina del Mar is on the Chilean Pacific coast. It is a fall celebration of the beauty and diversity of the country’s birds. It is a time of educating people to the value of birds. Something we need as well.

Now I know you probably won’t get to many of these fall events, but these international festivals just might encourage you to pay more attention to the creatures of land, air and water. Perhaps next year the Darke County Fair might include a camel barn. A banquet of treats for the goats might be a nice surprise. Dressing pigs in glorious colors or a competition of sheared designs in sheep shearing would draw crowds. Well, food for thought.

Whether you call it Fall or Autumn, it is a time when perhaps we need to do more contemplating in new ways life around us. A time to take in other cultures. A time to find a new relationship with the critters in our lives. Happy Autumn, my friends.



By Pamela Loxley Drake

On Neff Road

Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at [email protected] Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.