Saturday, 28 July 2018

The drought is broken, thanks be to God!

What a hot, dry summer we have been having, with barely a drop of rain since early June. Parts of the lawn are completely brown - except for the long rooted weeds such as dandelions (now would be a good time to get rid of them). Many garden plants are visibly suffering, and I expect we will lose some, as with the hosepipe ban we are watering only the most precious. Marty is keen to avoid wasting as much precious water as possible, so I bought a large plastic tray to put under the shower - the kind you keep under the bed for shoes and such. Since it is too heavy and awkward to pick up full of water, we have to bail it into a bucket and carry the water outside to where it is needed.

Our farming neighbours are finding it much worse. Those with animals are struggling to keep them watered, and since the grass is not growing they have had to feed them reserves intended for the winter. I talked to a young farmer over my hedge who says that he has had to let the beasts down to water in a drain, that he is feeding them meal and sillage, and that the coming winter will be a real crisis. He was spreading artificial fertiliser on a field grazed to the bone in order to encourage grass growth, hoping to graze it again in 6 weeks time.

Another neighbour has just finished harvesting barley and wheat. I suspect yields have been poor enough, but that will be partially compensated by higher prices, and I hear the price of barley straw has soared, since it can be fed to animals.We were blessed yesterday to see a good sized flock of geese grazing in his stubble, fattening up for the winter on the fallen grain. I'm not sure what species they were, but they are probably feral Greylag (Anser anser) which stay in Ireland year round, unlike their cousins from Iceland who come only for the winter.
Geese grazing on my neighbours field on 27th July 2018
We have been praying for rain for weeks, and our prayers have been answered. We have had good rain over the last two days and the waterbutts are full again - I see that our nearest Met Éireann weather station at Gurteen has recorded a total of 12.4mm of rain over the last two days of intermittent showers. But I expect we will be back to hot and dry conditions by this time next week. So we must keep on praying.

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd of the sheep,
we pray for those who give their lives to the care of animals
and whose livelihood depends on the well-being of creatures in their care.
At this time of crisis in the farming community,
we pray that in the providence of God
the sun will shine, the rain will fall, the grass will grow,
and God’s creatures will be fed.
We give thanks for the sense of local community support,
the willingness to offer practical help
and the attentiveness of neighbour to neighbour.

This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

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