The 15th July is known as St Swithin's Day and rumour has it that should it rain on the said day then it would continue to rain for 40 days and 40 nights, that would take us right through until the 24th August!
It did rain on St Swithin's day. The night previous it absolutely hammered down alongside flashes of lightening and brattles of thunder for good measure. The wind picked up and it continued to rain with the result that Shep had one of those unplanned days off. There was little hope of sheep drying although optimism remained until mid afternoon but there was to be no joy, sheep would not be dry and so a day off was the result with an entry in the diary which read WET.
It is hard to believe but Tarset has basically suffered a drought. Even harder to believe if you live here as Tarset is renowned for attracting rain and yet this year precipitation has been to a minimum. That spring flush of grass we were all so desperately waiting for at lambing time never came, pasture fields have been bare, embarrassingly bare.
Hay fields shut down from stock to allow the grass to grow have also been struggling, the crops look poor and no one has bitten the bullet and cut any down as yet. This time last year the hay and silage season was well under way but not this year and now there is a hold up due to the weather. The chances of the crops growing much more now are slim and the feeding quality of them will soon begin to deteriorate.
So, bare pastures, poor crops in hay fields - no grass, except that is for the hill ground. Once the hill ground got warmed up with the heatwave we experienced in late May and early June the grass took off. The hill ground is mostly peaty around these parts and so retains the moisture well with the result that a drought and hot spell really helped it. Hill sheep have been doing very well, as have their lambs which is a god send after the harsh winter and spring which they experienced.
It has been quite a pleasure to experience a heatwave and has definitely made the shearing season a great deal easier if not a tad sweaty, Shep was getting to the stage that I never considered it may rain and hold you back, came as a bit of a shock when it did. Not only did it rain but it absolutely hammered down and on St Swithin's day at that.
Seemingly this St Swithin fella died centuries ago and wished to be buried outside where he could have the rain fall on him. For all he was dead, and presumably would be taking very little hurt as a lifeless corpse, some kindly souls took pity on his remains, they that had been left under the soil to be rained upon, and decided to move them and give them an indoor burial. St Swithin must have been watching from some cloud somewhere and took umbridge, to show his disquiet there was apparently a great downpour, which lasted for forty days and nights and commenced on the day his body was moved indoors - the 15th July!!
All this is hearsay coz believe you mean I most definitely was not around to witness the event and neither was anyone else I know of, so it is just another piece of good old British folklore and one which I truly hope isn't correct coz I still have quite a few sheep to clip yet, anyhow, Falstone Show is on the 21st August and we really don't want it to rain on that day, do we?
Should it continue to rain in the manner that it has done over the past few days there may well be cause to commence building an ark, in the meantime it is quite refreshing to see the pastures freshen up, the grass is looking greener and possibly may have grown some. Water courses are filling again and stock which previously were struggling to find water are now getting it 'on tap'. The rain has done no harm whatsoever. Lets just hope it remembers to stop and gives the farmers a decent opportunity to gather their winter fodder.
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