Several things have upset me this morning.
Firstly, it appears that some people have complained to the media that they have NO SNOW! Well they should get real. For those who have to get out and work in all weathers outside, or who have a vital job to do and need to commute only to find that the roads are impassable, would not agree.
Secondly, this type of bad weather and freezing temperatures is, and always will be, dangerous and can kill.
We are not badly off here. It is not fun and it is still bitterly cold, and we have some snow, but I am pleased to report that we are not really struggling. Certainly it is a grind everyday to water everything outside, and inside, as the pipes inside some of the buildings are freezing up now.
Jethro is having to change his plans, and house more animals than originally thought this winter. The early cold snap has caught everyone out – it is not unreasonable to expect to keep cattle out in the fields until Christmas or just after.
The hardest part Jethro said over breakfast is that this is only the 2nd December and it was almost mid-April before temperatures rose this year and Spring arrived. Memories of last winter’s struggles to feed and keep the livestock in good condition are too fresh in our minds and it saps the spirits somewhat to think that we may have many more months of cold weather.
Last night watching Edwardian Farm , as Jethro snored loudly on the sofa, there was something that Ruth said about Christmas being a low-key event for rural dwellers. She explained that in Edwardian times the big Christmases were mainly celebrated by the urban middle classes who had both time and money to spare. Country folk, she said, had neither the time nor the money.
This to a certain extent still rings true in that all farmers who keep livestock have to feed and water and check their animals whatever day of the year it is. There may be a rota to share the workload over the holiday period, but if the weather is as bad as it was last Christmas then it becomes a two-man job anyway.
My experiences of farming Christmases have been mixed, some excellent and some we’d rather forget. And unsurprisingly it has usually been the weather that has made all the difference. In the run up to the 25th December a lot of extra work and effort goes in to moving feedstuffs and bedding around to reduce the number of hours worked on two-day holiday.
On the day we have always had delicious fresh food to eat, a warm cosy fire to sit by, and of course a Christmas tree with a pile of presents to open. The difference between these good and the not so good days has been time. Enough time to enjoy the lunch, enough time to sit and enjoy the family opening presents, and any time at all to just have a rest.
Some Christmas Days have been rushed, the day itself or even the Christmas dinner has been interrupted by phone calls reporting trouble, or the farmer is just so exhausted from the extra work from the bad weather that he has his Christmas dinner late and then sleeps through everything else!
As you can guess I am not wishing for a white Christmas this year, we’ve all had quite enough of the white stuff already!