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Reworded: "Journal Entry from the Countryside: Unexpected Winter Conditions on the Farm | Author Sarah Laughton"
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Reworded: “Journal Entry from the Countryside: Unexpected Winter Conditions on the Farm | Author Sarah Laughton”


A farmer with experience shared with me recently that he doesn’t believe winter truly starts until late December. While I am cautious of his tendency to make bold statements, I am starting to see the validity in his perspective.

The repetitiveness of the mild and rainy weather has merged three seasons together, from summer to autumn and into the new year. Our hedges have not been trimmed since the ground is too wet to access, and there are reports of winter wheat being planted three times due to persistent slug activity.

Farmers are constantly adapting to changes in weather patterns and sometimes, it works in our favor. Instead of starting to supplement feed in late November, I was able to arrange for leased grazing land. At a cost of £3.50 per day compared to the same price for a small bale of hay, it was a beneficial choice both financially and practically. However, the timing and magnitude of this adjustment feels unprecedented.

Soggy conditions on Sarah's farm in the Cotswolds.

The National Trust’s yearly report for 2023, released shortly after the holiday season, emphasized the danger to wildlife caused by increasing temperatures. This concern seems to have been confirmed by the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s continuous text notifications, urging farmers to stay alert following an outbreak of bluetongue in Kent. This virus, which affects cows and sheep, is spread by warm-weather insects known as midges. Surprisingly, there are still some of these pests present. Additionally, I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to warm my hands while driving a drafty Land Rover filled with breakfast hay.

I am uncertain if we will adapt to this new way of life, but we are currently enduring it. Even the cows, who are used to winter conditions and accustomed to being outside, seem tired of it. I cannot recall the last time I saw them lying on dry ground, chewing their cud after feeding as they normally would. Instead, they stand with matted coats under dripping branches. The blackthorn bushes, shining darkly, appear especially wet. The ditch is filled with water, flowing from the lanes above, which have become streams in recent times. In the distance, I can hear the angry roar of the river, rushing into the meadow and causing the water to bubble up menacingly from the ground.

The landscape is heavily soaked, and yet “the rain continues to pour every day”.

Source: theguardian.com