Spring? Or Not…
I recently heard someone say that it feels like an angry winter keeps leaving the room only to storm back in again and shout ‘just one more thing!’ Us Brits are very good at joking about our bad weather, but I’ve been through enough winter/spring transitions to know that dragging winters aren’t that uncommon. I remember many March days starting with a light covering of snow, indeed the day Sandie was born on March 12th 1947 there was quite a deep covering of snow and her Mother had difficulty getting to the maternity hospital which was ten miles away in Wells. I suppose that wasn’t altogether surprising either as the winter of 1947 was the worst of the twentieth century before 1962/63 arrived.
When I was growing up the older farmers were optimistic about snow in March, they would tell me that a little snow in spring time was very good for the grass and growing crops and my Dad always told me that March dust was worth a ‘Guinea an ounce’. I was never convinced by their optimism; let me explain that a little bit. Sometimes when cultivated land is dry enough for a little dust to follow the machines, we’d then have almost perfect conditions for planting the spring crops. This year we have had nothing but mud since Mid-January, and too many spring crops remain unplanted as I am writing this. Needless to say we have now missed the optimum planting times by a Country Mile if you will excuse the pun! This is important, because it’s the difference between a very good crop or a disappointing one, or even no crop at all, if it goes on much longer unplanted. This situation is not as critical for grass crops as all of them are planted in the Autumn and many remain untouched from cultivation for four or five years once in the ground.
Dairy farming comes with many challenges, but luckily for us, the elongated winter and the knock on effect to the land isn’t one of them. Our land is very unsuitable for most things other than grasses. Of course we have to have sympathy for the farmers that are desperate to plant crops.
I wonder now if those experienced farmers from my childhood knew the importance of having a positive outlook; I remember meeting a very large farmer from the USA who told me “ John don’t worry, we always loose every crop we plant in our country at least four times during the growing season!” I’m not sure my nerves could stand that sort of battering! As I finish writing I see the sun is coming out, and the forecast is a little warmer over the next ten days or so, here’s hoping that the true springtime is just around the corner!