An Old Fashioned White Easter

Just a few short years ago, many people had been complaining that we no longer get Winters like we used to here in Britain, and quite a few of them were putting that down to global warming, air pollution, mass urbanisation and all manner of different causes. Well, the last three Winters have proved something of a return to those “good old days”, what with the prolonged deep freeze of 2010 into 2011, the snow and month long deep freeze arriving in November that same year, and then there’s this season’s warmer, but longer Winter.

Old style Winter

This year is proving to be a long, slow, cold affair, and now the Spring blizzard has brought a surprise cold snap with it. Although still not as severe this year in terms of sub zero temperatures, it is having far reaching consequences on everyone’s fuel usage since it seems to have been cold for a longer period of time. In fact the first day of spring has been and gone relatively unnoticed in terms of temperature rise and sunny days, on the contrary, we have had the first Spring blizzard since I was a lad. This area of high pressure over Scandinavia is pulling in cold Arctic air is the cause apparently, meaning we’re all tending to spend more time indoors in front of the fire.

Unsurprisingly, the nations gas reserves are running low as a result, at around only 10% of our capacity, and the country is close to running out altogether barring the timely delivery of those shipments of liquefied natural gas from Qatar. At home, our own fuel reserves are also running low as it happens, in fact we have had to pick up a few more bags of smokeless fuel and I’ve even had to buy some sacks of fire wood from the farm shop. It’s not that we don’t have any wood at all, we just don’t have any chopped and dried, ready for use.

Shopping, not chopping

We still have several chunks of tree trunk awaiting the attention of my chainsaw and axe, but the weather has not really been fit for getting any more processed. I had already cut plenty, or so I thought, but of course because this Winter is running on for much longer than expected, all the prepared wood has been used up and so that’s why we’ve had to buy some extra just to put us on a bit longer, hopefully until this weather picks up a bit. Looks like a bigger wood store may be a project for coming months, ready for next year.

I suppose the lucky thing is that the smokeless fuel we bought was actually a little cheaper than our usual supplier, and at the farm where we got the wood, he had also some bags of furniture block offcuts. Kind of a blessing in disguise really, and it looks like the farm shop could have done with the additional trade. On our way back from the farm shop, we picked up a sack of potatoes from our man in Padiham too. Potatoes aren’t overly cheap this year though, due in no small part to the lousy weather all last year causing waterlogged fields, and crops to rot in the ground.

Nature cycles

Feeling for those farmers who have lambing on their farms this Easter, since not only are we seeing the arable and cereal crop harvests much reduced due to weather, lambing is already being affected by Schmallenberg, resulting in fewer live lambs being born. Now the fiercely cold weather for those newborn lambs that do make it to have to survive, and invariably some will not. Hopefully this cold spell might just kill off some of those disease carrying midges giving next years lambs a better chance. Nature usually provides a cure, one way or another.

The weather forecasts offer little comfort for those still without power, as there is still chance of more snow on the way mid week, and temperatures set to remain low until the far side of Easter. Trying to look on the bright side, I can remember snow at Easter in the seventies, that was then followed by some of the best Summer weather on record, either the same or following year. Fingers crossed that this piece of history may well repeat itself… meanwhile, stay safe and warm.

Summary: In like a lion, out like a lamb

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