Friday, 20 May 2011

Day After Glorious Day

They keep on coming, those glorious days. Day after day of sunshine. And for many that seems like a good thing.... until you become a farmer or a family trying to be self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables. I was talking to a French friend yesterday who lives in town and she says that the folk who live in Paris and Mamers (her town) just keep saying how lovely the weather is and it's not until she comes here that she realises the gravity of such an early drought.

It is serious. We had a relatively dry winter with less than average rainfall so the water table was already sitting low. As at today's date 33 departements (of 95) are on the most serious drought restrictions with more being added weekly - interestingly not the south of France. As yet we're not on that list but we are coded as next in line. We have had 4 hrs and 10 mins of rain in 13 weeks (yes I add up every minute of falling rain) and it can only get worse as the summer moves on.

The garden looks like it does normally in August with parched brown grass and cracking earth. The fields are due to be cut for hay but there's not going to be much there - that's a big part of our animal food for the winter. We have planted seed in the fields but there's no rain so it isn't germinating - that's our animal food and our own stores. Normally I would mulch everything to keep every possible drop of water in the ground but there's nothing to mulch with as the grass isn't growing. Where the pigs have kindly tractored our fields, it's a dust bowl and our precious topsoil is blowing away. That makes me feel so sad as I fully understand the implications of that and try hard to keep as much ground as possible covered for as much as possible. The only areas that are protected to a degree from the ravages of the sun are the areas under the trees and although we have planted loads of trees with more planned, we just can't get them growing quick enough.

The farmers around here are saying that the wheat isn't putting on growth so even if it does form grain, the stalks will be short which means much less bedding/food for the cattle for the winter. And they can't go to another farmer to buy more as they are all in the same situation. One farming friend thinks that he will have to cull as many as half of his cows as he won't be able to carry all of them through the winter like normal. And that is farming, the side that all those sun worshippers don't think of. I think we can look forward to higher prices of commodities if this continues.

1 comment:

  1. And then imagine if there were no shops and no money and nothing to fall back on if crops are small or non existent.

    We are off for a wet week near Ullapool and I will admit I had been wishing the dry April weather would continue just for us. We will enjoy curling up by the fire and reading instead.