Tag Archives: more rain

A small tornado a long way from London, nobody noticed.

DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Last month, during evening milking, the electric went off. This is a damned nuisance, especially given that at this time of year, it’s pretty much pitch dark. Even darker because it was a wet and windy evening. However before we managed to phone the electricity people to query gently when they expected service to return, it came back on again. So we promptly got on with life and put it down as ‘just one of those things.’ After all, we’re rural, electricity can come and go at times. It’s better than it used to be. You just make sure you know where the torches are. In the longer term we have an oil-fired Rayburn cooker that doesn’t depend on an electrical pump to work. In winter, we have an open fire, which uses a lot of logs and a little bit of coal. After all, the longest power cut I’ve experienced was six and a half days, which is an awful long time to be without warm food and heat.

But next day news began to filter in to us as to what had actually happened. A small tornado (there may well be a proper meteorological term for a bijou tornado-ette) had hit the island of Walney, cut across the south of the island and had headed for us. The first damage I could find was where it had run the length of one dike, tipping over hawthorn trees as it went. It then passed across a field and somehow missed one neighbour’s house. Instead it seems to have passed over another of our hedges, doing no damage. It then crossed a pretty large open area of the mosses where it may have gained speed and power, because it swung left and hit the front of another neighbour’s house. It put in two house windows and made a mess of a workshop before heading up through Furness. Finally it burnt itself out in the cemetery in Ulverston where it took down a lot of trees.

Looking at our toppled trees, my cunning plan is just to pull them back into the line of the hedge. This I’ll do gently so that I don’t put any more strain on the roots. Then I’ll hammer a fence post of two between the branches so it helps pin them in place. With any luck they’ll all survive.

 

And now we have Storm Ciara, which looks to be a bit rougher than the usual winter storm, but frankly not that much rougher round here. I think that the sheer weight of rain that came with it made it worse. That and the fact that it came in from the south and west just after the full moon so we had a higher tide than usual. This photo somebody took is the main road not far from our lane end.

84541656_2590545951190529_5978068406962749440_n

At high tide it came over the wall and kept going.

 

A friend was travelling down one of the lanes and took a photo through the rain towards the sea. Even at two or more miles away you can see the waves breaking on the sea wall. Also note that there isn’t supposed to be a lake between the camera and the sea. Somewhere on the horizon there is supposed to be England. I suppose it’s still there.

84504875_3490824504292918_7388663918987575296_n

But we’re lucky. When they decided to build a farm here, they picked a spot which was sheltered from the west (which is our main source of gales) and high enough up not to flood. There again, they were ignorant peasants, not wise and properly trained people like the members of planning committees. Still, eight hundred or so years ago we were too wise to have planning committees.

♥♥♥♥

Still whatever the weather you can still snuggle up with a good book! Available in paperback or ebook

As a reviewer commented, “I always enjoy Jim’s farming stories, as he has a way of telling a tale that is entertaining but informative at the same time. I’ve learned a lot about sheep while reading this book, and always wondered how on earth a sheepdog learns to do what it does – but I know now that a new dog will learn from an old one. There were a few chuckles too, particularly at how Jim dealt with unwanted salespeople. There were a couple of shocks regarding how the price of cattle has decreased over the years, and also sadly how the number of UK dairy farms has dropped from 196,000 in 1950 to about 10,000 now.
Jim has spent his whole life farming and has acquired a wealth of knowledge, some of which he shares in this delightful book.”

Betwixt and Between

22633-152847

I’ve seen a lot of comments this winter about the period between Christmas and New Year. In one newspaper a journalist was moaning about how he loses track of even what day it is and eventually the stultifying boredom of it all gets to him.

I must confess that it’s never been a problem for me. With livestock, if you get two quiet days for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, you’ve done well. From then on you’ll plunged back into normal work (with an added element of catching up) which keeps you nicely busy all the way into the New Year.

This year has been no real exception. Boxing Day and the day after were our first two fine days since about the 18th of December. Since then, as if ashamed of showing weakness, the weather has reverted to foul.

Indeed in agriculture you deal with a lot of companies who work through Christmas, although most do shut on the bank holidays (except for emergencies.) On the 28th December, if I pick up the phone to a Vet, an agricultural engineer, a haulier, or an auction mart, I’d expect the phone to be answered because they were working. Even feed merchants will have some staff on to cope with emergencies. Indeed we have always had a rule, in that if you cannot get hold of a business between Christmas and New Year, do you really need them the rest of the year?

Still one of this week’s jobs has been scanning sheep. People have been using ultra-sound to scan sheep to see if they’re in lamb for years. I don’t know whether they started doing it before the NHS did it routinely with women or not. The advantage with sheep is that not only do you have a fair idea whether the ewe is in lamb or not, you also know how many lambs she’s carrying. So a ewe carrying triplets will need a lot higher plane of nutrition than one with a single.

I found a photo on the web for you. The scanner sits alongside the ewe and runs the scanner across the ewe’s tummy in front of the udder. There’s very little wool there anyway so you don’t need to clip it. While he does that he looks at the picture on the monitor and that tells him what’s going on.

What the picture doesn’t show is that sheep scanning tends to be done at this time of year. The scanner, a contractor with all his own tackle, arrives in the yard with a trailer towed by a 4×4. The trailer unpacks so you get a race along which the ewe travels, is scanned and then goes out to rejoin her mates. As well as needing people to keep the sheep moving up the ramp and through the scanner, you also need an artist who stands there with two spray cans of marking paint. We put a red spot on the rump if the ewe is carrying triplets. If she’s barren she gets a red spot on the back of the neck. The other can has green paint in, and a green spot on the rump means she’s carrying a single. Twins don’t get marked up at all, they’re considered the norm.

Because scanning is virtually always done outside, in the cold, and probably the rain as well, the scanner will have a ‘tent’ of sorts to keep the worst of the weather off him and the electronics. For the rest of us we just huddle in our waterproofs with the rain beating on us, trying to keep sheep moving. This they do sporadically. Sometimes they will push past each other in their eagerness to follow along the race (herd animals can be like that.) At other times some idiot ewe will stand in the pen with her rump blocking the entrance to the race, so nobody can get up it.

At this point you’ve got to stop huddling and physically turn her round so she’s pointing in the right direction. At one point yesterday (as a particularly cold rain was blowing across the yard) I heard somebody say to a recalcitrant ewe, “Don’t make me take my hands out of my pockets you auld witch, or you’ll be sorry.”

As always, checking every ewe flags up those who’ll need pampering. One is due to lamb in the next two weeks. This means she managed to get herself pregnant three weeks before the tups went in. So it will be interesting to see just what sort of lambs she has. Anyway at her stage of pregnancy she needs more pampering that she’d get back out in the field. So she’s now inside where we can make sure she gets a high enough quality diet. Because she’s a sheep and they need company, one of the younger hoggs who isn’t in lamb but looks as if it’s finding winter a bit much has been kept in with it. They can keep each other company.

As we walked them back to the field after scanning, every so often a ewe would shake herself, (Just like a dog would.) and a great sheet of water would come off her fleece.

Happy New Year.

♥♥♥♥

You could always check with the expert

As a reviewer commented, “A delightful, chatty collection of jottings, which capture the mindset of sheep and their shepherd on a day to day basis. Thank you for this refreshing ramble in the Cumbrian countryside, Jim!”

Sometimes it rains a bit

DFrO3YZXYAAxMlF

Last week it was our local agricultural show, North Lonsdale. Occasionally we have a glorious day for it, because in an infinite universe, anything is possible. But frankly I reckon we have more damp, or at least gloomy days than we have sunny ones.

Still last week you have to admit nobody was going to accuse the day of being half-hearted about it. If you want a day to sum up the Cumbria summer, it was the one. It started by blowing a gale and with driving rain, and by mid afternoon it was actually quite a nice day and the mud was thickening nicely.

I arrived on the show field at about 7:30am because I was going to help with ACTion with Communities in Cumbria with their stand. By 9am, in spite of the driving rain, we had not merely erected a gazebo, we’d taken it down again before it left of its own accord.

But still we found a new home in one of the tents. A fair few traders hadn’t turned up. Now to be fair to them I can understand that. We had some leaflets to hand out. In the morning we left them in the car, there was no point at all in thrusting paper into somebody’s hand. It was turning to papier-mache even as they struggled to read it. A trader could lose thousands of pounds in damaged stock without selling a thing.

But anyway in the tent we made ourselves at home. In passing I’ll say a big thank-you to Ulverston Auction Mart and the local NFU office for keeping us supplied with coffee. Facing those conditions inadequately caffeinated is a recipe for disaster.

But once underway we did all sorts of things. We talked to people about disaster planning. Given the weather people could see where we were coming from with that one. Also we did a survey, you know the sort of thing. I showed them a list of services rural areas need and asked “Which of the following services are most important to you as a rural dweller?”

 

If you fancy doing the survey then there’s an on-line version of it available here.

https://cumbria.citizenspace.com/voluntary-and-community-sector/rural-services-survey/consultation/intro/

 

I’m sorry if it lacks the ambiance enjoyed by those for whom it was a part of the full North Lonsdale show experience. But if you like you can always fill your Wellingtons with tepid water before sitting down at the computer to tackle the questionnaire.

After about noon the sun started to come out and people appeared. These were the ones who were there to support ‘their show’ because they know these things are important. Not only that but when we got them doing the survey we’d see them wandering off in their small parties still discussing whether affordable housing or broadband was more important. We didn’t merely ask questions, we started a discussion and people went away thinking. I suspect we were the most subversive organisation on the show field. If everybody started thinking then that would be the end of civilisation as we know it.
And as with all these shows, there were any number of high points. Wringing the water out of my cap for the third time wasn’t really one of them. Still for me, one of them was coming across one chap who I drafted into answering the questions. Once you got him talking you discovered he was a young man with a real heart for the rural community and the problems we have.

Then there were the half dozen or so young lads, aged about ten, who drifted into the tent. With infinite mud and no adult supervision they were having a ball. But in the tent they didn’t splash mud around, answered the questions, and came up with some good points.

Like the lad who said they’d like more parks and footpaths. I was about to say ‘but you’ve got the countryside, what more do you want; but then I realised. He was a decent lad and just wanted to know where he could go. I was born round here and at his age knew everybody. So I could go anywhere. But since then the links between the various parts of the community have broken down, he doesn’t know who owns what, he doesn’t know who to ask. It’s something to think about and hopefully do something about.

And then there were the other traders, to pick one out I’d say a big hello to the shy self-effacing chap from the Damned Fine Cheese Company.

http://www.damnfinecheese.co.uk/

 

Their Black Gold is absolutely beautiful. So beautiful that I’ve been forced to break off to cut myself a slice.
Another to mention is local author Gill Jepson. Gill claims to have been at school with me, but all I can say is that she must have lied about her age to get in early. It takes real nerve to carry books through the driving rain, even if you’re going to sell them in a big tent, but Gill did it

 

http://www.out-of-time.co.uk/

 

So yes, it was a bit wet, but it was a good day.

♥♥♥♥

Obviously on a day like this you need to chill out with a good book

 

When mages and their suppliers fall out, people tend to die. This becomes a problem when somebody dies before they manage to pass on the important artefact they had stolen. Now a lot of dangerous, violent or merely amoral people are searching, and Benor has got caught up in it all. There are times when you discover that being forced to rely upon a poet for back-up isn’t as reassuring as you might hope.

As a reviewer commented, “What starts off looking like a theft at sea, followed by a several findings in the mud when the tide is out, soon morphs into an intriguing tale where Benor, Tallis, Shena, Mutt, and a plethora of other folks, get involved in dealing with dark deeds in Port Naain.”

The Genuine Cumbrian Hyperspace Experience

maxresdefault

The last two days have been remarkably wet even for Cumbria. Strangely enough I missed it as I headed south as far as Kenilworth. So on the Wednesday when I drove south it was throwing it down, until I crossed the county boundary into fine weather.

Driving home on Thursday it was fine, a few spots of rain as I drove through Lancashire, but visibility was good. Then as I passed Burton services I hit rain. It was as abrupt as driving into a car wash, one minute nothing and I was quietly overtaking two lorries. Next minute my windscreen wipers were moving at triple speed in a frantic attempt to let me see out.

But to be fair, this isn’t all that unusual. Indeed off the motorway you can enjoy the ‘Genuine Cumbrian Hyperspace Experience.’ The last time I had this was when they closed the A590. This meant that rather than leaving Penrith and heading down the M6 and A590 home I had to head west along the A66 and then down through St John’s in the Vale to Ambleside, and from there take the Coniston road to hit the A590 at Greenodd to miss the closed section.

And it rained. It was as dark as a January night can be, and it absolutely chucked it down. I had a full hour with the windscreen wipers going at full speed. On the other hand, whilst they might have been exulting in the wild acceleration, I didn’t manage to achieve 40mph.

For those of you who’ve never driven along Cumbrian A roads in these conditions I’ll try and describe them.  Firstly you only see what your headlights illuminate. Your field of vision consists of the walls on both sides (slate grey and rotten wet, gleaming in the headlights.) Then there is the road. This is a different shade of grey and where there is no standing water, it’s because of the slope and you’re driving through running water. Finally there is the vegetation above you, which is also sodden, reflects the light back, looks vaguely green but fades to black where the headlights don’t reach. And this continues for miles. Occasionally another vehicle looms out of the darkness. This can be a cause for panic because both of you have been driving down the white line, as it’s the highest part of the road and the bit with least standing water.

Then suddenly, you drop out of hyperspace. You find yourself in a village. Frantically you look for something you recognise because you’ve just been driving with no landmarks or recognisable features. If you’re lucky you spot the sign saying that ‘Blawith welcomes careful drivers’ or ‘Welcome to Subberthwaite (yes you are lost)’.

Then after a few brief moments of comparative civilisation with houses, lights in windows and perhaps even a street light or two, you leave the village, drop back into the hyperspace tunnel and you’re back in a featureless world of wet greys and greens.

You just better hope you dropped into the right hyperspace tunnel otherwise it’s ‘second to the right, and straight on till morning’ and God alone knows where you’ll end up.

♥♥♥♥

For those of you who quite like journeys where you don’t know where you’ll end up there’s always

 

As a reviewer commented, “50 year old Benor is back in his home city of Toelar, enjoying a quiet life of roof running, paramouring, etc, when one day his routine gets disturbed, making a fast getaway necessary.
However, his escape route is blocked by an Urlan Knight.
Fortunately, the said Knight saves Benor’s life, without even unsheathing his sword, by just being there.
Unfortunately, the said Knight has been looking for Benor and has a little proposition to make.
And so it begins…”