March certainly came in like a lion and it was a ‘Beast’ which will not be forgotten any time soon.
‘Beast from the East’ took the whole of Britain and Ireland by surprise for a few days and left snowdrifts lingering more than two weeks later.
The bitter cold wind added a lot of work to the days, thawing out frozen water troughs and tending to outlying livestock.
Thankfully, we had not started lambing and have good access onto a main trunk road, but my heart goes out to those who were pouring milk away, lambing or cut off for many days by the drifts.
Social media nowadays eases the mental isolation of rural life and shares the measures we, as farmers, have to go to while the rest of the country has a snow day. There is no warm blanket and TV day for us while livestock needs are met.
But this time, it seemed at least, farmers did get noticed; videos of sheep being dug out by hand went viral within minutes and rural living tractor-hating urbanites were thankful to hear the six-cylinder roar while pushing snow off their drives so they could pop to the shops to stock up on food.
It has done no harm the supermarket shelves were soon bare and it gave a fascinating insight as to what shoppers saw as essentials to survive.
It was the basic staples of milk, meat, eggs and bread – items which are grown and reared in our very own nations fields – the public sought, while imported out-of-season products remained in the aisles.
This came in a week when the NFU was in the national press for appointing its first ever female president.
It all raised awareness of UK agriculture and the dependency the whole nation has on a local farming and food network for a rising and demanding population.
The resulting thaw has seen land return to a quagmire; our sheep remain outside as we approach the start of lambing next week.
A couple of beautifully dry days early this week dried fields considerably, but with rain and more frost forecast, I am off to stock up on this week’s foreign discounted ice cream.