Last month I predicted that by now I would have planted our spring beans, however, the stormy waters has so far not allowed that, although conditions are improving and I hope we can be doing something in the next couple of weeks.
Those who have read my column for some time will know I do mention the weather occasionally. Recently it has been making the national headlines. We had a few trees blow down, including one which blocked the road for a couple of hours before we cleared it up. However, this is nothing compared to what many around the country have suffered. Farmers on the Somerset Levels have suffered a second year of potentially livelihood ruining conditions.
I visited farmers on the Levels last year, remembering one farmer; an award winning, forward thinking person, with a fantastic business he has built up with his family and staff over the years. Most of his pasture was under water for 11½ months of the year. This nearly sent his business to the wall, but thanks to determination and a close relationship with his bank, they had worked out a way for him to pull through it. That was last year, but now I think of him as it has all happened again.
Somerset farmers know the levels flood; they have done since Roman times. Up until 1990, local rivers were dredged to manage the winter flooding. However with authorities like the Environment Agency now run by Westminster intelligentsia, priorities had changed and despite local knowledge and opposition, the powers from afar have not carried out this vital management in recent years, which has lead to the inevitable consequences in the last two years. Fortunately, with the political outfall, it looks like things may change from now on, as organisations will have to answer some big questions on the balance of priorities.
In the mean time, there has been a surge of support for the flooded farmers. Farmers around the country have organised much-needed food and bedding for stranded livestock, whilst the generosity of the wider British population has been overwhelming. In rural and urban areas alike, neighbours have been helping each other when homes have been deluged with flood waters. Often such devastating events bring out the best in people.