Monday, 21 July 2014
Red sky at night
I am learning all the time. We are haymaking again today; another friend, with a much larger field, wants his making into hay for his horses and he wants it to be ready to lead in at the week-end. This week looks a reasonable week so that the farmer has begun the cutting today. He looked at the long-range forecast last night (on Country File John)and the forecast up until the week-end looks quite promising. It struck me forcibly on Friday how farmers and countrymen in general decided on the order of jobs in the days before there was any sophisticated forecasting. There was a sharp breeze blowing and the leaves on our rowan tree outside the kitchen window were almost blowing inside out. The farmer remarked on this, saying that the leaves were blowing inside out - that was a sure sign that rain was on its way. And I thought of all the other country sayings: Red sky at night a shepherd's delight. Red sky in the morning a shepherd's warning. Rain before seven, fine before eleven. It's the west wind that brings the rain and the east wind that brings the cold. The North wind brings the snow. There are countless others and that and the farmer's intuition were all he had to go on when planning farm jobs. The farmer will often come in and say ' there's rain in the air' or 'there's snow coming in' and he places a lot of importance on the view over the moor from our kitchen window - a lot of weather comes from there he believes. And he is probably right. So nowadays it is a combination of things that decide when farmers begin their haymaking, but it is still a tense time. The price of cattle feed in Winter fluctuates greatly and the more each farmer has stored in his barns when winter begins the happier he will be.