Today is St Paul's Day here in the UK. Did you know that? Neither did I until I read my Times this mor ning. But if I had lived in any part of Europe in medieval times I would have been very aware of it.
In fact there were processions in London in the sixteenth century: "And then the King with my lord cardinal, came to St Paul's, and heard masse, and went home again; and at night great bonfires were made throughout London, for the joy of the people." (Chronicle of the Greyfriars of London 1555)
Interesting stuff - of course I realise that in those days the majority of the population did work on the land, so the folklore prediction that
"If St Paul's Day be faire and clear,
It doth betide a happy year.
If blustery winds do blow aloft,
Then wars will trouble our realm full oft;
and if it chance to snow or rain
Then will be dear all sorts of grain." was listened to avidly.
On that prediction today is fine as the snow and fog of yesterday has gone and it is like a Spring day here with warm sunshine. So it remains to be seen whether we have a happy year.
The farmer doesn't quite go to those lengths in his belief in folklore - but he does still look at the sky for signs of tomorrow's weather and he does quote "as the days lengthen the storms strengthen" at this time of the year.
I suppose weather is uppermost in every farmer's mind. At present it is the state of the ground. After yesterday's sleet and snow the ground is now too wet to spread the manure, so that is building up in the midden again (amazing how quickly it grows). We have a load of fertiliser ordered. This needs spreading when the ground is damp but not too wet and hopefully when showers are forecast so that it is quickly washed in.
Daft sheep climb on walls and break them down - they need building up again but the ground needs to be firm enough to get the tractor and bucket of stones near enough to make the job as easy as possible.
There may not be so many working on the land these days (most of the farms round here are one-man-bands - just a few have one part-time helper) but the weather and the forecast for the weeks ahead is just as important as it ever was.
And we all look out for signs that spring is just around the corner. All our snowdrops are fully out now - a few crocus are showing their yellow flowers (sparrows go mad for them unfortunately) and I for one am determind to look on the bright side.
It is our poetry afternoon today - so must get choosing my selection.