The seasonal clock is running late.

Spring clockAlthough I am not a farmer, one is still influenced by the seasons when one lives in the countryside. Farmers, be they agricultural or livestock based are reliant on the seasonal clock being accurate for lambing, sowing, moving livestock into fields, harvesting, milking and so on. Unlike regular employees who can guarantee a regular income, the faming community must bear its own losses.

Certainly Somerset like many other counties has received more than its normal share of rainfall this winter, coupled with”The Beast from the East” cold weather. This has led to waterlogged land still unfit for sowing. Cattle unable to be released into Spring pastures meaning winter feed has either run low, or become completely exhausted, forcing farmers to dig deep into their own pockets to buy feed at inflated prices. Overall most farmers say they are running about a moth behind time, precious time that is difficult to make up.

I probably like most of us have been craving for better weather for those more open-air pursuits one associates with non-winter months. A few weeks ago was the Easter Weekend break when it feels as if whole nation is on the move like a sudden uncoiled spring. Everyone is seeking to escape the long winters clutches for a few day. From my home, I can observe in the distance the A303, one f the main routes from London to the West Country. The continual flow oh headlights throughout the night could be seen from cars with their urban escapees. Unfortunately to accompany this flood of headlights was a even heavier deluge of non-stop rain that lasted the entire Easter break. It was almost as if Mother Nature was saying that she will tell everyone when they can enjoy themselves and not before.

Well today eventually feels at long last like something of a Eureka moment with the long awaited arrival of warm sunshine. Suddenly gardening chores that have been on hold finally become doable like mowing the lawns. Up until today the grass had already started its Spring spurt, but was still soaking wet not allowing cutting. Now after a few hours work the garden suddenly looks transformed and awaiting ‘Teas on the Lawn’ weather.

Ford Kuga 03I shall also be taking possession of a new SUV car later this week. My present car although still very reliable, I have had for a long time and finally it is time to move on. My first impression when taking the model of car I am buying out for a test drive from the dealers was similar to that what pilots must experience entering a air-line cockpit. I am impressed though by all the safety features in modern cars, even those that cannot be seen but never the less help drivers avoid getting into trouble. All far removed from more basic vehicles I have driven years ago with crash gearboxes and the like.Vehicles where the only hint of modernity was an open-glass temperature gauge   stuck on the outside radiator.

The new vehicle should however allow me io get into a few more off-road location than present, something I am certain my dog will appreciate. I just hope todays pleasant weather now continues onto into the Summer. Not only for my say but also for the farmers and all those seeking some form of away break.


February 2013

With compliements ©National Trust Images/Don Bishop

So far 2013 has been a bit tumultuous weather wise with its mixture of rain, snow and flooding. However it is still the middle of winter and to be expected to some degree. I cannot help but feel the country closes down all to easily during adverse weather conditions with schools, trains and other transport rapidly grinding to a halt. In many countries where snow is an expected norm they simply carry on. It will be interesting to see if a recent court judgement making airlines liable for sizeable financial compensation for delays due to adverse weather will have an effect in reducing airport flight cancellations.

Parts of the Somerset Levels near where I live have now been under water for many months. To the farmers that own the land this could mean complete financial ruin. There is often a misconception that farmers are all wealthy but for the vast majority this would be untrue. Whether they be livestock or arable farmers, it takes a special breed of person to often borrow large sums of money to buy a farm and then work all hours of the day, and often the night, and then gamble the elements will prove favourable to their crops or livestock during the forthcoming year. If a farmer makes a profit he will pay tax on it. However if they makes a loss instead, there is no form of recompense on their loss.

Whatever our occupations, most people would not be happy in being told their pay was to be drastically reduced but that is the situation many farmers face on a year by year basis. Why do they do it? Well most farmers will tell you it’s a way of life that’s in the blood and they enjoy being in charge of their own business. It’s fortunate for the majority of us there are such people for without them the alternative would be mass starvation. Perhaps the Government should consider creating a special award for farmers in recognition of their services.

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