How often have I heard an old herd (shepherd) mutter "Aye, 'til the new moon comes in there'll be nae change in the weathor", "Hev ye seen it? lying wi'it's points doon'll let the weather oot, points up'll keep the weathor in ye know"
Have to admit I don't always take note of the moon and it's doings but then it aint always there to be seen anyhow.
I am aware though, but only because I checked in my diary, that the 16th December saw the first snow fall in Tarset and it coincided with a new moon - umm.
We had another new moon on 15th January. Has the weather changed? Well, yes it has come fresh, there is still a lot of snow lying around but it is softening and shifting, life is looking hopeful. For the time being.
As for the new moon coming in, well...... we had rain, sleet, snow and a wind with an easterly aspect. Now was there also sunshine? Could well have been a faint flicker somewhere.
So where does that leave us? I guess if you're an optimist then the weather did change, or you could say we just had a variety of more of the same - similar weather to what came to Tarset a month previous. Does that then mean we have to wait 'til the next new moon??
I don't know. I do know that those older and wiser than myself say the white stuff lies around waiting for more to join it, if that's the case we better hope this fresh continues and lets the white stuff disappear. .
Sheep are managing to break through the snow and graze more easily now, life is looking up - or is it?
Sheep have fared not too badly but the long duration of poor weather is beginning to take it's toll. They went into the winter fit (in general) this year - Mother Natures way mebbes as they've needed that cover on their backs to see them through this cold spell. Anything which was looking questionable as to whether it would see the winter through is most likely away in the dead cart at a cost of £14 to the farmer,or still hidden under the snow somewhere. The others are reaching the point where lambs are growing inside them and they have more than themselves to feed, weaknesses are just beginning to show and this in turn may lead to poor lambing crops as lambs get reabsorbed or aborted - again natures way.
The snow is melting just in time before the sheep weaken but there are fresh dangers as the snow softens and melts. The obvious, of course, is flooding so a gradual thaw would be gratefully received by those in the lower lying areas of the valley.
Hill sheep start to rake further away from the spots where they have been receiving fodder, scratching in through the snow to their preferred choice of natural herbage. That's good, every shepherd is pleased to see them starting to fend for themselves. There are however many open drains (ditches) on hill ground and these can be dangerous to cross when soft or even icy snow is on the edges, they'll be running with water too so anything falling in will soon get sodden and may struggle to get out, battling with mushy snow as they try to clamber up the sides of the drains.
Sometimes crossing points the sheep have used during the snowy time may not be ideal points to cross now. The drains can be a danger to them all year round but more so in times of snow cover, flooding or when heavily in lamb.
It is a precarious time for the hill sheep as they spread themselves out further and further afield each day, a time when you really don't want them getting startled and running about. Bear this in mind if you're visiting the countryside and taking a walk on the hills and moors - sheep can be easily startled, if they are keep an eye out in case they don't come out the other side of that drain or burn.
And as for the moon? Well, who knows? I certainly don't. The following link to a weather forecast station seems to show we'll have what came in with the new moon - a bit of everything http://www.yr.no/place/United_Kingdom/England/Tarset_Burn/detailed_long.html
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