Thursday, 5 October 2017

Hard Times

Silly as this might sound, over the last couple of weeks I've been trying to dig some flower borders prior to the winter, should it actually occur. Being at the wrong end of the very long dry period that I keep harping on about and having clay soil, it's bloody near impossible to get a spade in the soil it's so hard. This is the silly bit - consequently, to make it a tad easier I'm having to put the garden sprinkler on for a couple of days in order that the ground softens up a bit and even then the soil is turning over in large clods like house bricks - plenty of rain and some hard frosts are needed.

The situation on the reserve and it's grazing meadows remains the same, endless drying winds, sunshine and just the occasional heavy shower. It really is ridiculously dry and talking to one or two farmers, it seems another problem is now rearing it's head as a result. Ditches and fleets on grazing marshes are always called "wet fences", i.e. all the time that they have sufficient water in them livestock cannot cross and stray where they shouldn't. Unfortunately, as you can imagine, with many such "wet fences" now dry thanks to the drought, livestock is wandering about all over the place, even on to neighbouring farmland and it's a real headache.
Now here is the bizarre bit, if you were to visit and look at the arable farmland alongside our grazing deserts, you'd almost say that the above was a lie, the recently sown wheat and rape is growing away like magic! Shortly after the crops were sown we had several heavy and prolonged showers, just enough to soak the top inch or so of soil, germinate the seed and start it into early growth, those fields look quite green.
Of course, several heavy showers are a long way short of the heavy and prolonged rain that we need to wetten and re-fill ditches to the average depth of three feet and indeed soften up the whole marsh so that birds can probe for insects.


  1. I like that expression 'wet fences' Derek - I havent' heard it before.

  2. Perhaps you should have waited for "bob a job" week -then you could have got a couple of scouts to dig your flower bed for you.

  3. Sorry - I'm a great believer in doing things for myself.

    1. I'm not! Always get a little man in that's what I say

  4. Is that the story of your life John.

  5. Its amazing to read your recent blog posts Derek about the lack of water in the area. 350 miles to the north of you we live on the North East coast. It is a dryish area in the rain shadow of the north pennines/Cheviot hills, but we still get a reasonable amount of rain fall. Or do we? Maybe its just that we have a colder climate than further south so there is less evaporation? Anyway, a very thought provoking read. Cheers, Stewart

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