This is our pond. Rather unexpectedly as it happens – we didn’t line it or fill it, the volume of rain and snow over the past 24 hours has simply been so huge that it has filled itself. Quite handy really as we can see how the levels will work out, and know that the stepping stones are the right height. This however is one of the few benefits of the weather that has arrived at what should be the start of spring. The farmland around is is steadily submerging as the overloaded streams and rivers burst their banks.
The drainage ditch that runs through our land is almost full – at this point it is six foot deep and would usually have a foot of water in it. If the rain carries on falling, we expect it to overflow into the field within a day or two. The hens have spent the day in their shed, and the horses are staying inside until things calm down.
They aren’t usually terribly sensible, but on this occasion seem quite content to stay put and munch on their haylage. Despite the awful conditions we are just grateful that we were able to put all the paths and dry land in when conditions were better, which makes managing everything easier. If weather extremes such as this are to become the new normal, we need to be prepared for them. Certainly if conditions remain like this for long –
then we will end up growing the majority of our vegetables in polytunnels. One thing is certain, and that is that we need to adapt in order to maintain any form of production. Hot beds created using the heat from large amounts of manure are one way that we may be able to grow in even the worst conditions. At times like this we are reminded of the importance of resilience, and how fragile we are if relying on the grid for electricity, supply chains for food, and distant pipelines for gas. Today 50,000 homes in Northern Ireland are without power for lighting, heating, and in many cases, cooking. A faulty pump in Belgium caused a gas supply failure to Britain triggering a ‘highest ever’ price spike. The country has at most a 36 hour supply of gas. In extreme weather, supply chains will begin to slow, causing food shortages.
It is against this backdrop of fragility that we need to build resilient communities, think about producing our own wood fuel, generating our own electricity, and producing food that is, if not grown ourselves, grown locally. And people tell us that our lifestyle is odd. Sitting here in front of the fire, I can#t imagine why.