TIME to adapt the old children’s rhyme, I think, and simply make it “Rain, rain, go away,” forgetting the “come back another day” part.
We’ve had more than enough for the time being as this threatens to be the coldest, wettest, June on record.
We’ve been lucky compared with areas further south. Spongy fields, miserable silage-making and crop-spraying weather and equally miserable livestock is bad enough, but extensive flooding is a lot worse.
Crops in our area are variable, with spring barley most patchy, specially on heavier land. At least few are under water.
It would be pleasant to have midsummer weather that doesn’t remind us of March or October – or what we used to think of as March and October weather – but it doesn’t look as if we’ll have that any time soon.
British pluck being what it is, the main outdoor events went ahead, including the Highland show and the Isle of Wight music festival. TV pictures suggest that conditions at the two were much the same with mud the main ingredient, though Highland show-goers were more sensibly dressed as comfort trumped fashion.
It’s some years since we had such a spectacularly wet Highland show. It ended the run of 180,000-plus attendances, and so much for my attendance forecast last week.
It could be worse – I could have been among those who tipped England to win Euro 2012 then spent several hours that will never come again being proved wrong on Sunday night.
As always with a wet Highland, in spite of the improvements over recent years, the biggest problem are the grass field carparks.
Conditions became so bad this year that several show parking areas were closed, with Edinburgh Airport and the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters at nearby Gogar offering emergency parking.
Farmers tend to be phlegmatic about bad weather at a show, especially when it is preventing work at home, so attendance on the first two days was not down too much. But Saturday and particularly Sunday are aimed more at the general public and families and, with a choice between staying warm and dry at home or braving a monsoon and mud at Ingliston, attendance was well down.
One of the most worrying statistics to emerge from the Highland show had nothing to do with the event itself. It was NFU Mutual’s report of a 45 per cent increase in rural theft last year and a 165 per cent increase in sheep rustling.
That meant about 1,700 sheep stolen from farms in Scotland, presumably then slaughtered and sold on the black market. The police and health authorities warn that anyone buying such meat could be risking infections such as E.coli or ingesting animal medicines.
The infections are possible because the animals were probably slaughtered and butchered under unhygienic conditions and animal medicines may still be present because the prescribed time between treatment and slaughter that the farmer would have observed has not passed.
Legal butchers point out that stolen, illegally butchered, meat should be easy to spot. It is unlikely to have been properly bled or hung after slaughter, making it darker and tougher than legitimate meat.
Whether any of this will deter rustlers or buyers of what they rustle is debatable. Cheap meat in hard times is tempting.
While distressing and a loss for individual farmers, the value of stolen sheep is dwarfed by the value of the main targets for what NFU Mutual called “organised crime” – tractors, quad bikes, and fuel.
Motorways and lorries can get tractors and quad bikes stolen to order from a British farm on a ship to Europe or elsewhere within a few hours – quite often, given that fewer people are going about on farms now, before anyone notices the vehicle has been stolen.
Not so long ago, it was common on farms to leave ignition keys in tractors, and cars, and to leave them unlocked. That has probably changed for most of us, but it’s still difficult to accept that so much thieving is going on and that, basically, no one should be trusted and nothing should be left to chance when protecting vehicles, livestock and property.
What with crime statistics like that, the weather, Wimble-bore once more upon us, Germany on course to win yet another football trophy and not being due enough tax to be worth trying to hide it off shore, there’s not much to smile about. Maybe next time.
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Weather for Duns
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 7 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North