And the rain it rains every day

Yes, it’s still raining, every day, here in Ireland. I see from the news it’s raining every day in the UK too. I’ve seen some bad years for inclement weather over the years (quite a lot of years – it astounds me just how many) but nothing like this. Some people have blamed El Nino which is a regular occurrence, but much more pronounced over the past year. There are worrying signs of climate change as the Earth’s temperature continues to rise. And a good friend reported a comment by a local farmer in England. According to him, there were two full moons in July 2023. Whenever this happens it will rain for the next twelve months. Well, we are almost there now.

Apart from being really rather gloomy this has had quite an impact on everyday life in our little corner of Ireland. Our house is at the top of a hill but just below the brow. This is good as we have some shelter from the worst of the storm winds. Generally they come in from the south west, off the Atlantic and whistle down the road but go over the top of the house. It is not so good however when there is very heavy rain. The field out to the south drops down to our boundary and there can be a lot of run-off. This flows over our land and works its way into the Majestic.

When Donal cleared the land for the small orchard he made an earth barrier along the boundary and this has reduced the amount of water considerably. Thank you Donal! And thank you for the wonderful work you’ve done on what was overgrown wasteland. One good thing about the rain, especially as there are now some brighter spells, is that the trees are already growing. They all have leaves or buds and a couple have a dusting of blossom, despite the high winds. The newly sown grass has sprung up in the last week and the whole area is transformed. It makes us smile every time we look at it and neighbours walking or driving past have also commented favourably.

One of the best ways to help dry out waterlogged land is by tree planting. It’s rather long term but more of a permanent solution so we are already planning the next round for the wood. Just like the orchard, the new trees are already starting to grow and one of the flowering cherries has some sparse but lovely blossom. Next year we hope there will be a real show of colour to herald the coming of spring.

Much to our surprise, the road menders arrived a few weeks ago and did a very decent job of repairing the four major holes on the road. We can now actually drive along there without risking our tyres, though the downside is they dumped the damaged tarmac in the pond opposite and threw some over our side boundary. There has been a massive increase in road damage over the winter – the local paper led with the headline “Thousands of potholes on our roads”,and it’s not much of an exaggeration. Sometimes it’s like being in a particularly difficult video game, with one of us driving and the other acting as a spotter. A trip to the shops now sounds like, “Hole left…bad bit right…mind the middle…holes left, about four…” It makes journeys interesting if a bit tiring.

Not content with all the progress with the trees, we have a mini-mini digger coming next week. This is only one ton but is small enough to drive (very carefully) round the side to get at the patch next to the back wall. Some time ago we bought a polytunnel greenhouse and we hope to clear the brambles and bushes from this area, set it up and use some of the remaining blocks to build a raised bed just outside the door. We will probably be reliant on raised beds for a lot of plants as the ground is extremely stony. We were shocked when Donal, digging in the wood area, reported hitting rock just a spade depth down. In the end he used a digger, made deep, wide holes filled with earth and planted the trees that way.

The lack of any soil deeper than about eight inches would explain why so many young trees were dying when we arrived. Yes, there’s considerable ash die back but the poor things didn’t stand much of a chance with no space to put down roots. We puzzled over the size and depth of the rock, which comprises tightly packed stones of various sizes. Then we had a chat with a neighbour from just up the hill. She is also having problems finding anywhere to plant as the stones and rocks are only six inches below her soil line. Apparently a lot of this hill was used as a quarry a long time ago and much of this could be abandoned spoil. Well, we have wonderful soil in the top area as years of leaf mould, scrub die back and the fallen trees have rotted down to form rich, deep earth for planting.

The rain has played havoc with our wood store as the high winds brought the tarps down months ago and we have been trying to pull them over and weigh them down ever since. It’s not all bad however. Quite a lot of the wlogs have shed their bark which will make a wonderful mulch. Maybe in a few years we will have lovely rich soil in the wood too. We are hoping Bill, the excellent fence man, will come to repair it and construct a lean-to shelter ready for next winter, when once more, the rain will rain every day.

Thank you for reading. Here’s to a decent spring and – let us whisper it – even some summer this year.