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Suddenly hot in October

October 3, 2011


 

It may be a cliché, a British farmer discussing the weather, but it has been strangely hot this week. Actually it’s been beautiful – high 20s celsius, often with a breeze and not too humid. But now it’s October, the leaves are turning, it’s dark by 7pm and we’re still wearing T-shirts – strange indeed. We’re trying to make the most of the warmth and dry ground to prepare things for winter.

For the last fortnight. we’ve been taking water from the river to fill a bowser that is supplying the eighteen animals on the Meppershall side. This is a bit of a nuisance but the pump we bought recently has decreased the time it’s taking; next move is to acquire a larger bowser.

We’ve been installing mains water in a lean-to where Admiral (the bull) will spend the winter. He was out all last winter and didn’t do the ground any good at all so he will be confined for a few months enjoying the company of Chestnut, a heifer who has done rather too well on the summer’s forage and will be kept on short rations for a while until she’s lost a few pounds.

I’m never certain whether the cattle prefer winter or summer. They are constantly bothered by flies through the summer months, although this year has been better than most, probably because of the generally poor weather. They also suffer a bit in the sun – losing the heat generated in their rumen is an effort on a hot day. That same microbial furnace provides central heating in the depths of winter. Even during the coldest period of last winter, when temperatures stayed ten degrees and more below freezing for days at a time, they all seemed pretty relaxed.

However hot it is, with winter just around the corner; we are starting to think about the willow harvest and hazel coppicing, trying to keep the memory of the feeling of the sun’s warmth on our backs.

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