Country Matters, April 2020
‘Spring has come when you can put a foot on three daisies.’
Just as I ignored Brexit in writing these pieces, so I intend to maintain a Covid-19-free essay each month. Far too much is being written and said already without my two penny-worth.
The weather is more of a concern, at least to me. Unremitting rain and wind results in a life of misery for so many in the country. Dog walking is no longer a pleasure for man nor beast with dog-bathing a regular occurence nowadays. At the back of your mind is the growing threat of Alabama Rot, a somewhat mysterious disease causing skin lesions in dogs which is usually fatal and the causes of which thrive in wet, muddy conditions.
But it is the farmers who are most concerned. Fields are waterlogged – impossible to get machinery onto to cultivate crops. Autumn-sown crops will have rotted in the quagmire and now is the time of year when the land should be being tilled ready to sow spring crops. However, that is unlikely to happen any time soon until we get a prolonged period of warm, dry weather which it is not unreasonable to expect at this time of year.
Most cattle and sheep are still inside when they should be out grazing on fresh pasture. Being inside is more labour intensive and means feeding hay or silage plus concentrates, a more expensive undertaking.
Those farmers growing vegetable crops face similar dilemmas. Few such crops enjoy being drowned and when the quality and yield of the crops is reduced, so is the price paid by the buyers.
All in all, there is little optimism around in the rural economy although most countrymen expect Mother Nature to even things out over a period of time. The problems arise around cash-flow in the meantime.
As I mentioned last month, the cycle of life turns and most of the birds are now nesting or preparing to do so. Our pond is well stocked with frogspawn and there’s plenty do in the garden as weeds abound, whatever the weather. Just as spring flowers give hope for the future, so the weeds shoot up threatening to smother everything. On an odd day when a big yellow thing did appear briefly in the sky, a clump of hyacinths was covered in honey- and bumble bees eagerly seeking out the nectar. They studiously ignored the dandelions…
By the time you read this, the clocks will have changed and the longer evenings will be most welcome. Doubtless, the weather will improve and before we know it, we’ll be unreeling our hosepipes until the water companies issue their dire threats of drought and water shortages and ban their use. Then it’ll be baling out the bathwater or whatever wheeze you can invent to keep your lettuces alive and your roses from wilting. By which time, these rain and wind plague days will be but a distant memory.
I’m still not mentioning it but these are times of unprecedented change and disruption which is affecting everyone. So do stay safe and come through the other side with your family at which time we can hopefully get back to normal. And unless they turn out the army to keep us in, get out into the countryside and enjoy the best of England which is right on out doorsteps.