Weather Perceptions

One bright and breezy day, right at the end of September,  someone remarked to me that it was “another beautiful day”; not hot, not cool just a lovely sunny early autumn day . . . . but there was no rain. I got to thinking what about was said and what was meant.

In our weather conscious culture in this part of England we usually associate sunny and dry with beautiful, and wet and windy with miserable. But for Meppershall gardeners and arable farmers, after a full month with no measurable rain, a beautiful day would probably have been one of steady rain. It’s a subjective business; and we would have wanted some sunshine soon afterwards of course!

Friends of ours spent two weeks in Sardinia at the beginning of the summer holiday period and the daily maximum temperature never dropped below 40 degrees the whole time they were there. That was too hot and forest fires were evident in many places along the Mediterranean coast. They were pleased to return to a more moderate temperature and a ‘bit of damp’.

I make no apologies for returning to the subject of weather. We are so fortunate in this country not to experience serious drought causing several years of failed harvests leading to death and dislocation. Once again this seems to be the situation developing jn northern Kenya and Ethiopia. Remember Live Aid in the 1980’s?

One of the charities we support is called Farm Africa www.farmafrica.org. It works in these two countries as well as others in the region. If you don’t already support such a charity working on the ground on sustainable and empowering projects take a look at the web site and consider whether you could support in some way; buy a goat perhaps.

Hilary Benn is the current Cabinet Minister responsible for DEFRA ( Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). Recently he, along with many others, has reminded us of the big global challenges of feeding a world population that is projected to grow from the current 6.8 billion to 9 billion by the year 2050, whilst constrained by the effects of climate change and water shortages. That is some challenge and one that farmers and scientists across the globe must be prepared to take up. ( I may stick my head above the parapet in a future episode and discuss GM crops )

I began writing this right at the start of October before we had the half inch of rain on a ‘beautiful day’ that broke our dry spell. The oil seed rape was drilled in late August and had enough rain to get going. However, we held off drilling the wheat for a few days longer than usual until late September as it was so dry. Getting a good enough seed bed was extremely difficult on our heavy clay soil. Although we will need more rain to ‘catch up’, there will have been enough to germinate the wheat seed and get it started. It will also have brought the slugs up to the surface where they enjoy eating the germ of the seed. Slug pellets are applied where the slugs are seen to be, or likely to be active. Great care must and will be taken to ensure the pellets do not enter any water courses.

Just a quick update on the much awaited footpath from Shefford to Meppershall. Those of you with sharp eyesight will have noticed a yellow tipped waymark post in the field edge at either end of the grass path. The permissive path is just about to be formalized between ourselves and Central Beds. However this is an interim measure. The fully fledged footpath awaits funding from the Council and is not yet programmed for construction as far as we know. Until such time as it is, please make use of the permissive path and tell others about it. Dark winter nights are hazardous for pedestrians on the road.

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