Thursday, 31 October 2013

Where did 2012 and 2013 go?

Rumours we have been blown off our Welsh hillside are greatly exaggerated. It is true that the “summer” of 2012 saw us almost drown under the volume of rain we endured, and that lambing in late March early April 2013 was truly bitter but, no, we are still here!
I’m afraid that 2012 was so bad that I want to recount it only in the briefest of terms.  Lambing was fine – 4 ewe lambs and 2 ram lambs; lambing percentage 200% by the time they went.
One of our 2012 lambs
All sweetness and light
Gloucester old spot x Tamworth pigs. From their initial arrival and subsequent escape within 24 hours we knew they were going to be hard work. As the winter continued into June it really was damned hard work wading through eighteen inches of liquid mud to feed them twice a day. Loading them into the trailer at the end of summer was even less so – just thinking of it makes me shudder.
They went on to a better place and the resultant meat was/is delicious.
I swore that if we were to keep pigs again we’d fence them in with post and rail and pig-wire. When we analysed the costs of production we saw that keeping pigs again would be unlikely to be economically worthwhile. Especially so given the local slaughterhouse is no longer accepting them. Add to this the cost of permanent rather than electric fencing and I really can’t see that we’ll have them on the holding again. A pity as they are wonderful animals.

Before the rain turned this into the Somme
The Allotment was pretty poor. We lost a lot of spuds to blight; onions rotted too (though this was probably from the way I stored them) and there was no purple sprouting broccoli. Beans and peas did OK and raspberries are indestructible. We did however lose 2 x apple trees to canker. The weather seemed to rot everything. Brussels sprouts seemed to do well and garlic wasn't too bad, but these later rotted in storage.
Healthy onions
Sprouts did surprisingly well

The weather had rare breaks when it could be called pleasant with mid-June being about the best of it.

Louise with a courgette
Part of the 2012 garlic harvest
Autumn 2012 faded into winter and come January we had the snow we have come to expect and to a degree, welcome. Its transforming qualities never cease to amaze me. In fact this year we had a lot of snow with deep drifts breaking the cable ties that support our wind netting on The Allotment. On the lane beside the house it was laying almost waist deep on the flat, with drifts rolling like waves. The sheep was scoffing their hay and work for me at least was on hold.

The view from the lounge, winter 2012/13

Snowy sheep

Drifting snow in waves 3 or 4 feet deep
Work goes on
Into 2013 and a freezing spring came next, with a real dip in temperatures just as our sheep were due to lamb. We didn’t have the snow that other farmers had, but the freezing cold wind chill dried every new leaf to a faded brown crisp. It seemed spring would never arrive.
Again we had 6 lambs but this time the genders were reversed – 2 ewe lambs and 4 ram lambs. The wrong way round – we’d ideally get 6 ewe lambs but nature gives you what it chooses. Once again Spotty Nose rejected her second lamb, so once again we had a molly on a bottle – a twice daily chore of mixing milk and feeding that lasts from birth to the end of July.
We decided to keep the two ewe lambs back and sold the ram lambs – 1 privately and 3 at Crymych

The summer was a cracker, with high temperatures and dry days – just what we, The Allotment, sheep and nature needed. This was the first good summer we’ve had since we moved here in 2007 and we needed it.  Everything has flourished, with our best ever crops from The Allotment – everything did well. The garden was just idyllic. Here are a few pics to remember just what a good summer it was.

We are not lambing in 2014 – we are having a year off which will give us more time to really get The Allotment going for 2014, and perhaps some time to get away and see our much-missed friends in Hampshire.
So here we are now as winter approaches. The last few weeks have been characteristically wet and windy, but the “St Jude” storm missed us completely for which we are thankful. We’ll probably get some snow at Christmas, but before long spring will be here and the work will start in earnest again.

Finally just a word about one of our friends here in Wales. Lins had some news of the worst kind, but has dealt with it inspirationally and, though she doesn’t know it, has shown me personally just keeping positive in the face of adversity really means. I’m thankful for the lesson and send my love to her.  Lins, 2013 is nearly over and 2014 is on its way.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful pictures. Looking forward to 2014 my friend...