By mid August the leaf litter in the woods was already deep – something we don’t usually encounter before October. This is not how things should be. Usually the turning of the season is nature's gradual preparation for winter, but this sudden change has been brought about by trees under stress.
Despite putting many water bowls around the farm for birds and wildlife we’ve seen a worrying number of dead birds over the summer – likely from dehydration. The hawthorn, rowan, elder and holly berries all ripened over a month ago - well before their usual time. The early harvest of nuts and berries will mean some small mammals won’t survive the winter too.
Some of the ponds around the farm are just fed via ‘run off’ from the hillside. As a consequence of zero rain for three months those ponds are now bone dry. We had to stop offering pond-dipping as an activity for our Kids Off Grid this summer because the best pond on the farm for that is no more than a puddle at the moment.
Of course, in the last week we’ve had torrential rain and that has had the effect of turning the grass green again at long last, but it’ll take a good long wet winter to restore the water level in the ponds.
All of this is a reminder that global heating is resulting in extreme weather ever more frequently, a very sobering thought.