Stephen Prest continues his farming column with some reflections on the floods.
In spite of huge changes in the last few decades, farming remains central to our community here. If you farm near Slingsby and wish to share your experience, email us at [email protected]
Looking down on the Vale of Pickering from the Howardian Hills there is an awful lot of water lying around which is hardly surprising considering the huge amount of rainfall we have had. I am very grateful to Robert Wainwright for providing rainfall figures covering the last 19 years.
Our annual average rainfall over that period is 27.75inches. In 2015 we have had 29inches, not far above average, but 6inches of that fell in December! Houses in Fryton, The Lawns and Railway Street were flooded or damaged by flood water and we really feel for those affected. Two boys (including Alfie) were seen canoeing in the floods at the bottom of Railway Street which provided great amusement for local onlookers! Flooding damages our crops and can result in areas of crop dying off and having to be re-drilled in the spring as well as restricting root growth.
Wild duck and other waterfowl may enjoy all the water but swollen and muddy streams and rivers makes life difficult for many small animals and birds. On one of her early morning runs Kate saw a Kingfisher on the dyke alongside the old railway. I got some interesting pictures of a sparrow hawk eating a wood pigeon in our back garden recently, thankfully it doesn’t seem to have frightened off the small birds coming to our bird feeders.
On the farm we have been busy grading potatoes out of store, apparently people eat a lot of potato crisps at Christmas time. My neighbours The Cliffords are busy getting ready for lambing time which commences in early January. It involves a lot of hard work and long hours especially if it is cold and wet.
DON’T FORGET TO DO THE BIG GARDEN BIRDWATCH SATURDAY 30TH AND SUNDAY 31ST JANUARY.