Archive for the ‘weather’ Category

Strange things happen in bad weather, and in December, traffic wardens in Edinburgh were unable to operate properly due to the sheer volume of snow.   Parking bays, yellow lines etc. were completely obscured, and piles of snow were left at the side of the roads.

Many Councils, not just Edinburgh, were left without income from parking tickets for the duration, and are now feeling the pinch.   The army of Edinburgh traffic wardens have a reputation of being extremely efficient – they have a job to do and get on with it.    But  the staggering figure is the amount issued in parking fines every day in Edinburgh:   would you believe that this is £50,000?    EVERY DAY.

Edinburgh Traffic wardens

Edinburgh Traffic Wardens in the Snow - Gie them shovels!

It makes you think though:     if the citizens of Edinburgh want to teach Edinburgh Council a lesson  for introducing the stupid, stupid tram project, they just need to obey the parking rules to the letter for a few months.

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Snow Watch

We have had a very long winter with a dump of a foot of snow on Boxing Day night which hung about for ages as the temperature did not rise above zero for weeks.   

We had another foot of very wet snow a few weeks ago which stuck to and broke the overhead electric lines.     Perth city had no snow at all, but west of Perth was a whole different world.

On December 28th, I cleared the yard with a forklift and bucket, and made a big pile of snow 10 feet high.    In a normal year, this would have lasted a month at most, but incredibly the last of it is going today – three months after it was piled up.

Last of the Snow

Last of the Snow

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The Grand Match - Lake of Menteith 1979

The Grand Match - Lake of Menteith 1979

The Grand Match is a massive outdoor curling competition, which takes place in Scotland only when there is enough ice to play on.   The ice needs to be around 9 inches thick to be safe, as there can be up to 2000 curlers with their stones taking part.   North vs. South.     It rarely ever happens, because we hardly ever get enough ice, and there have only been two Grand Matches since the 2nd World War.      

Every AGM at a Curling Club, one of the annual duties is to elect those who will represent the club at a Grand Match, should one take place.    It is usually the most senior members.   We do this every year at our club, and we have a set of outdoor stones always ready to go.    

This year, after a 30 year wait, there is finally enough ice to hold the match at the Lake of Menteith.     The Royal Caledonian Curling Club are keen to hold the event, but the authorities have  ruled playing on ice outside inherently unsafe.    Because no-one is prepared to say that the event is 100% safe, then the event cannot get insurance, and cannot happen.

We now have a whole country full of bewildered and increasingly angry curlers, who simply cannot understand why this rare and iconically Scottish event cannot take place.    We managed in 1979 – what has changed?

Hopefully, some heads can be knocked together in the next few days, but I expect that someone will find a good reason for this not going ahead.

Interestingly, there were some 2000 curlers on the Lake of Menteith  today – not playing a Grand Match, but having lots of fun.

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With the current weather to cope with,  our local Council in Perth and Kinross have been struggling to empty the bins of the more rural folk like us.   Like many Councils, they now empty bins fortnightly, and we have two wheelybins at the end of our road – one for general waste, and the other for recycling, emptied week about.

The general waste one was last emptied on the 3rd December, and the recycling one on the 13th December.     Both were full yesterday.

And today was a recycling bin emptying day.   The Council managed to get up the road ………..  and emptied both bins into the one lorry.    Perhaps the best solution under the circumstances, as this cold spell could last a while.

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A Cold Snap

It has been really pretty cold, even for round here.    And we are told to expect 2 more weeks of the same at least.    It has not really been above freezing much since well before Christmas, and often well below freezing.

In the country, we are pretty used to coping with adverse conditions, but our local Council has not exactly been pulling out all stops to make roads and pavements safe.    We had 12 inches of snow on Boxing Day night, and not a lot more since then, although most of that snow is still here!     Our road to the farm from our village is really not great, and our bin has not been emptied since December 6th.

But I actually like cold clear weather.    On Hogmanay, there was a spectacular sunset in the West, just as a big fat full moon rose above the horizon in the East.    Stunningly beautiful.


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Harvest Progress 2

This is turning into a particularly tricky year, because we are not getting much in the way of rain-free days required to work combine harvesters.

Winter Oats and Spring Barley are all cut, leaving wheat to do.    But wheat soaks up rain like weetabix soak up milk in the mornings, and it normally takes a whole good drying day before you can think about cutting wheat.    But one field down, and yesterday we started at 7pm with wheat at 24% moisture and cut until 10pm when it started raining again.   It is very frustrating, and expensive as wheat has to be dried to below 15% moisture.

Other areas of the UK are fully worse, with Northumberland being a particular blackspot.    Farmers Weekly has a UK harvest roundup  www.fwi.co.uk and loads of pictures like this one of a very submerged round baler (2/3 is underwater):

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Harvest Watch

I have cut some of my winter oats, but progress round here has been painfully slow due to the rain which goes on and on.    Repeated visits to the BBC South of Scotland weather page show endless blue patches (of rain) on this neck of the woods.     The wheelbarrow is just about full of water now.

Combines round about have been getting stuck right up to their axles, and have had to be winched out of boggy holes.

The last disaster harvest we had was in 1985, when we had a wet July, wet August and then a really wet September.     If things dry up from now on in, we could still be OK, but early crops like oilseed rape, winter barley and winter oats are already starting to spoil.

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We have had seriously large amounts of rain here over the past week.    A couple of weeks ago the fields were pretty dry, but now they are extremely wet.   

Combine harvesters are not that great climbing hills in wet conditions, although they will go up backwards better than forwards.   It won’t be the first year where I have cut my steep field one way – down, and reversing up between times.    Hugely inefficient, but in tricky ground conditions there is literally no choice.

How much rain?    Well, we bought this wheelbarrow last Monday.   Today there is almost 7 inches of water in it.    It is getting pretty serious as there are acres of oilseed rape and winter barley ready to cut now round about here, and winter oats not far behind.     I have winter oats which will cut as soon as we get dry weather.

On the bright side, it is still August, and things can dry away fast given good conditions.    September is a different matter, as the season closes in.    The next four weeks are critical.

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Wasp Watch

Evening has fallen.   The wasp traps have been busy, and there are now less wasps about, although there are some very determined ones left.

I was able to pick the last of the gooseberries, but had to be careful as some really ripe berries had about three or four wasps with their heads buried munching away.    Picking these ones would have been rather sore.

It will be the battle of the brambles next.

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In the past two summers, we have found ourselves asking “Where have all the wasps gone?”     I don’t like wasps at all, and especially at harvest time where they are really attracted to combine grease.

But they are back in force this year.    We have a gooseberry bush in our garden, and today there are so many wasps at it that it is unpickable.     So war has been declared, and several ‘wasp bottles’ have been prepared and sited, and are already catching lots.

We use old wine bottles with sugary stuff inside, but perhaps a better solution is to cut the top off a plastic bottle, and invert this  http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Wasp-Trap.    

We have had over 5 inches of rain this month already, so the wasp traps may get diluted a bit.    How much rain?    Well, we bought a new wheelbarrow early last week, and it is sitting 3/4 full of rainwater.

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