Tony’s been away flying whilst I’ve been coping with the wild, wild wind & the bitter, driving rain. It seems there’s no respite; if it’s not blowing a gale it’s pouring with rain – or both. It started (typically) on Friday 13th with the worst storms of the year so far. I huddled in bed with the cats for company, listening fearfully as the storm raged around the house; so it was with some trepidation that I peered out of the window in the leaden light of dawn. As soon as I could I checked around the farm as best I could; thankfully everything seemed pretty much intact.
Then I remembered that during the night there had been a power cut, which would have tripped the little fridge which contains our veterinary medicines. It was lucky I checked – because when I entered the Plant Room – hub of the Dairy Complex – I discovered to my horror that there was evidently a problem, water pouring in through the roof….splashing over plug sockets & onto the computer which is the ‘brain’ of our milking parlour.
I immediately inched the computer carefully as far away from the flood, as I could; & then deal with the next emergency – finding a way of blocking or catching the water. But how….? I had to think quickly (not my strong point!).
I urgently needed to cover the exposed electrical sockets & my first thought was the pile of Gortex jackets languishing in the garage – they keep out the worst weather imaginable. Whilst rummaging around for them (diplomatically ignoring the host of enormous, hairy spiders which appeared to be guarding them) I espied a redundant tumble drier hose: fat, flexible & lengthy – just the job. Marry that up with some strategically-woven & suitably bunting-coloured baler twine & I might – just might – be able to turn a drama into a mere crisis.
I clambered up into the roof space where amidst the gloom & the torrent of water I managed to make out an available beam from which to hang my ‘contraption’. At first it seemed to be working, the stream of water successfully directed down the tube & down into a bucket below….but no; not so good….the tube kept on drifting in the restless wind & the water, the water, kept on flowing….
More baler twine; more exertion.
And, yet; water, water, everywhere….
So: more exertion. And even more baler twine. And lots more hard, hard work. What with that, two spider-infested Gortex jackets & some judiciously-placed bubble wrap I just about managed to stem the flow & limit the damage. Soon the majority of the water was pouring down the makeshift pipe & into a big green bucket (rather than all over the desk, the floor, & my office swivel chair).
I breathed a sigh of relief – crisis averted. But then I noticed another problem…..it appeared that the majority of our half-mile long gravel driveway was now in the arrivals yard. Summoning the dog I anxiously trudged up the drive as he capered merrily in front of me, splashing along the twin streams that were once slightly-indented tyre tracks. Deep orange gouges scarred the once grey, smooth surface; the audible gurgle of water as it poured down the exposed jagged bedrock depressed me beyond belief. As the rain soaked my face & sent clammily cold rivulets seeping beneath my already sodden clothing, I gloomily realised that all hopes of ever getting to today’s ‘Sadwrn Siarad’ – Welsh Learners’ Day School – were dashed; I needed to tackle any blockages in the drains at the top of the drive.
Thankfully I was assisted by an ever-helpful neighbour; but it wasn’t so much any blockage but rather the sheer volume of water, which was causing the damage: the drains just couldn’t cope. What might have saved the day would have been properly-maintained drainage ditches (in fact, ANY drainage ditches) along the side of the road; unfortuntely however the Council clearly do not consider us to be a priority.
The runoff system into the field also needed rodding & – for the umpteenth time this year – clearing; although I found that in fact it wasn’t too bad; again, it was the sheer volume of water which was causing the backlog through the drain….& with the drain already full the excess water had simply found an easier route, overflowing straight down the drive.
The ultimate insult occurred whilst lifting off one of the covers, which had at some stage been damaged by a heavy vehicle. The twisted metal was extremely sharp & being wet, difficult to grasp; not only did I gouge a chunk out of my finger I also managed to slice it open as well, two very painful wounds. Fortunately they bled pretty heavily which at least cleared away most of the grit also embedded in the gash. So, not the best of days….
Since then the farm has alternately been battered by rain, or by wind, or by both; but at least whilst things are pretty miserable (especially when the North wind blows as to add insult to injury disgusting, choking oily fumes & smuts of wet soot come belching out of the Rayburn chimney & into the kitchen, eugh) we have got off fairly lightly, all things considered. Even so, on a trip to Haverfordwest to serve gelato at an event held (appropriately) by the Really Wild Farm Shop I was forced to turn back when I reached the road through the mountains owing to the appalling – & in truth, alarming – conditions. The clouds were down to ground level; it was blowing a ferocious gale & the rain was beating down so hard I could scarce see out of the car windscreen not to mention the water pouring off the fields was had turned the road surface into a rapid-running stream whilst the rivers en route were swelling with chocolate-coloured, foaming water at an alarming speed.
On the route home I paused to take some photos of the river which was magnificent in its turbulence over the falls; & was horrified to learn that where I’d parked to take my pictures the river abruptly burst its banks moments later… Ironically the conditions were so bad that it affected the camera & they did not come out.
Pity the poor people in Cumbria whose homes are flooded or wrecked by mudslides, & the family of that brave policeman who was swept off a bridge which collapsed….
…..but the forecasters warn us that it’s not over yet: next week, there is still more to come. I am not looking forward to the next chilling installment….