Climate, Hill Farming

Too rough for ducks!

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Our stream in summer

The exceptional rains continue, the ground is saturated, the reservoirs are overflowing and the rivers are in flood. It’s worse further north and it’s bad enough here.

P1060690 Our little stream

Same  stream today!

Last week, unusually for December,  I saw a Dor Beetle on the path — moving to higher ground, I thought, ahead of the flood.

P1060520 Abandon Home

Just in time, as it happened, before water started to spew out of the burrow.  In the valley bottoms the water table is higher than the ground so mole hills erupt with water, like volcanoes, and if you stab the ground with a stick it may spurt at you.

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Water is running everywhere.  Waterfalls appearing where they do not normally belong.

New Waterfall

Impromptu waterfall

At dusk this evening the chickens put themselves to bed but the two ducks were nowhere to be seen. They weren’t in the sodden field, nor in the yard, not under the truck and not in the barn or in the road which has turned into a torrent.

The lane

The road

 

Way to a neighbours house, cut off by stream

Way to a neighbours house, cut off by stream

The torch wouldn’t work and the hurricane lamp blew out, but somewhere, above the storm, there was a distant quacking.   The two ducks had strayed into the wetland (well — it’s all wet at the moment) and become separated and were calling to each other over the stream.  As I approached through the aspen and alder, one panicked and tried to cross the raging stream (remember, their wings are clipped), next minute she was in the churning, muddy water, whizzing downstream, spinning and flapping, quacking and squawking.  I was downstream of her so, holding on to a tree, I managed to lunge at her as she approached and flip her unceremoniously onto the muddy bank where she disappeared into a holly thicket before I landed, splat, where she had just been.  Traumatised (both of us) I carried her home over the bridge and reunited her with her friend, who came running to meet us.

Fuzzy Ducks

Tomorrow, I think they had better try their new enclosure — it’s too rough for ducks!

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Climate, Ecology

Wet, wet, wet!

It’s all down to the Jet Stream.  It’s not a media construct, concocted by those who pull our strings to add weight to the recent climate change demonstrations — to boost the low-carbon economy and bolster sales of renewables.  In fact the media haven’t even noticed that parts of the UK have dropped from sight — at first just soggy then gone — submerged.

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Llangurig church earlier today, in the Upper Wye Valley

I  can’t quite work it out — it’s warm and the grass is growing but it just won’t stop raining — I know it’s Wales but it’s poured, unremittingly for three weeks — 260mm and 60 of those in the last 24 hrs — and if it slips any further ( the Jet Stream, that is) it will all be snow and we’ll be living in Canada…

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We’ll need a skidoo and not just new industrial water-proofs.

It’s not just the media that has been pre-occupied with more momentous events — I only noticed when I went out for some milk and had a Dr Gloucester moment.  Splashing through puddles in my little car, it suddenly felt as if I were driving through treacle and the outside world disappeared under the wave that enveloped the windscreen.  Where was the road?

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Today on the back-road from Llangurig to Llandrindod Wells.

It reappeared only to disappear again almost immediately as I realised that I was wearing the wrong vehicle — I went home and changed.

Severn Break-Its-Neck, today, about 3 miles from the source.

Severn Break-Its-Neck, today, about 3 miles from the source of the Severn.

Alan put on is red woolly hat and we set off in our truck to intrepidly go and be amazed by the awesome power of water.

Everywhere sheep were damp and disgruntled.

Disgruntled sheep often with almost horizontal ears!

Disgruntled sheep often with almost horizontal ears!

In Staylittle (Stay-a-little as it used to be called and which is a much better name) the water was rising.

Rising water

Rising water

By the Clywedog Reservoir, used to regulate the flow in the Severn, men from the Water Authority watched.

I’ve told you this before, but you probably won’t remember: the Wye and Severn rivers both start within about a mile of each other on a hill just up the road from here.  Llangurig is the first town on the Wye and Llanidloes is the first on the Severn.

Wye Valley about 6 miles from source

Wye Valley near Llangurig about 6 miles from source

Both these towns are very near the sources of their rivers which go on down their respective valleys gathering volume and momentum — we have never seen them rage so much and so soon and so we fear for the communities downstream.  Today, while I was taking these photos of the river by the Old Mill, I met the architect who was looking at the flats, converted about ten years, and he told me that he had never known the arch (which you can’t see — but you should be able to see) to be submerged completely before.

It’s all a bit worrying — the rain has stopped now but everywhere roars with draining water.

 

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Communication, Humour

Only Puddleducks

Worst floods since 1756

We crossed the Somerset levels this week-end to visit family in Devon and Cornwall, the media warned of an impending apocalyptic storm, the prime minister acknowledged the plight of those whose farms and livelihoods  were already flooded and promised to dredge the rivers of Somerset.  Weather forecasts showed only swirling cloud completely obliterating our corner of western Europe.  We were foolish to set off.

It did rain most of the way to Plymouth.

We saw some swans preening in a vibrantly green field just east of Bridgewater.  We peered into the gloom waiting for the sea of flooded fields to appear.  The sun came out and we scanned the sky for rainbows, and for doves carrying twigs — there were none.

Where were the news men in galoshes standing on bridges about to be washed away and waiting for the record high tide at Burnham on Sea?  We did not expect the motorway to be submerged (we know that the clever civil engineers at least build their motorways higher than the flood plain) but from the high ground we had been led to expect diluvial vistas — silver fields.

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As far as the eye could see all was green, actually very green for the time of year and some of the streams looked alarmingly full, I give you that.

When we arrived at our destination I checked to see if the Somerset levels had been moved, perhaps to Norfolk where it is very flat or to Cumbria where it does rain a lot, but no they were still where I thought they were and still in the centre of a media storm.  Yes, that’s about it — a media storm.

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I wonder, is there something else going on — are they trying to distract us?

(Apologies if you have been flooded – please send photos! —  on 04.02.2014 the ‘storm ‘continues with a visit from HRH The Prince of Wales – for your information — an area of 25 sq miles is under water, that is equivalent to 5 miles by 5 miles, not a huge area in farming terms or compared with the area of the whole of the Somerset levels, it involves between 20-40 homes but is disrupting a lot more who feel that the problem is due to the government’s Environment Agency’s neglect of the river system. )
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