Sunday, 19 May 2013

Stone the crows

The weather this long weekend is poor. In fact the national TV channel TF1 headlined it as 'Pentecôte pourrie' [a rotten Whitsun]. It is cold! The maximum temperature forecast for today is 11C and 14C tomorrow.

Those of us who blog about the Loire Valley/Touraine have gone on a lot about the poor weather. All across France it's been poor; featuring on the news, even headlining. May has been unseasonably chilly. So much so, that we have caved in and switched on the heating from time to time to avoid turning into icicles.

Flying high over a crop of newly sprouted maize
Add to the chill the very wet weather we had earlier in the year and it's been hard on the farmers. Many have had to write-off winter sown barley, wheat and rape seed crops and have ploughed them in, deciding to re-sow with spring planted maize or sunflowers. These crops have just gone in and the first tender leaves are showing.

We've even seen fields which have been partially ploughed up resulting in an odd patchwork effect of, for example: flowering colza [rape seed] and newly sprouting maize.
A well dressed scarecrow
Eric, the farmer who has the large field adjoining our northern boundary, has done just that. Swathes of the field have been left with the winter sown crop [we think it is barley] while other sections --closer to us-- have been ploughed up. Nothing is showing as yet, so we don't know if he has has sown these sections with something else.

All this spring planting has brought on a rash of scarecrow styles ranging from ragged old fertilizer bags stuck on a pole, to imitation crows or to well crafted traditional chaps complete with drawn-on faces. The "boom" of the bird-scarer one of our neighbouring farmers uses each year has also returned [we wrote about it here].
Leaning into the work: another field of new maize
We saw all different varieties of scarers on a recent foray up to the wine co-op at Francueil near Chenonceaux. We wanted to buy some rosé  for drinking on the terrace -- we remain optimists -- although one could argue we'd be better off with vin chaud right now!

23 comments:

Susan said...

It's really dreary, isn't it? I want to plant my veg seedlings out, but Edouard told me this morning not to bother, they will be too cold and just sulk.

Those black plastic flapping raptor scarecrows really work I notice. If you get adjoining fields, one with one of these and one without, the birds will be on the field without the scarecrow.

I wonder why they are called scarecrows? It's not the crows you have to worry about, it's the pigeons. The crows are the good guys, eating leather jackets and such like. They are not very interested in your corn unless there is nothing else.

Vera said...

Our farmers are 'business as usual' despite the weather. I have seeds planted out and they are starting to come up, and our potatoes are doing well, so I think we must be slightly warmer down here in SW France. It feels like it has been a long winter though!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Susan - Very! Not really in 'summer mode' at all! We've lacked the enthusiasm to do our window boxes and still need to pressure wash the terrace. When it has been good we've been dealing with the grass.

They came and did the verges on the lane Friday so the orchids that were there are no more. Suspect they would have been lizards as you suggested.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Vera - we seem to be getting the full brunt of the out of sorts jet stream here. It is warmer in London right now and listening to the cricket at Lords [17C] I feel positively hard done by!

Glad things are on schedule down your way :-)

Susan said...

Yesterday I noticed that LGP has mowed around a large Lizard Orchid on the side of the road just outside of town!

Tim said...

Wow! Susan, mowing around an orchid... that is new for here!!
I think we all need to gather around an "illegal" bonfire and roast some spuds!!

the fly in the web said...

It sounds truly miserable.
I was up before dawn to listen to what has proved to be the last day of the Test Match at Lords and thought to myself how much I appreciate being able to sit on the balcony in a light dressing gown as opposed to my kitchen in France in sixteen layers and a balaclava before the wood stove started to heat things up.

Jean said...

It makes you wonder why anyone would want to be a farmer, always fighting the weather.
Amazingly, we have had a lovely weekend here in Derbyshire. It reached 20*C this afternoon and we were able to get in the garden and plant up some flowers etc. it's not often that we have nicer weather than you.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Tim - sounds excellent :-)

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Fly - it is rather. All the trees are in full leaf, the flowers are doing their thing albeit slowly and the grass is going mad; yet we have the heating on to warm up a bit in the morning and evening!

As the lady at the wine co-op said: this is fine for November but not for May! [we quite a discussion about the weather!]

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Jean - right now the weather is so upside down that my sister in law in Edinburgh has warmer weather than we do!

ladybird said...

It's even colder 'up here'. On Saturday I caved in too, and switched on the central heating again, although I had promised myself not to do so. But even my the woolen blanket under which I seek refuge on a cold wintery night when watching TV, wasn't up to the task of keeping me warm. Hope things will look up soon ... Martine

Perpetua said...

You do seem to be getting the brunt of this upside-down weather. :-( I well remember farmers in the UK losing their winter-sown crops last year and not even being able to re-sow because of all the rain.

I hardly dare mention that in mid-Wales it was 18C in the shade when I came out of church at lunchtime yesterday. Mind you, the forecast is for chillier weather this week, but at least it will be dry.

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Autumn into winter in melbourne and it seems your sprint to summer is a mirror image here.
Hope you start drinking Rose in the sunny spring soon.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Martine - fingers crossed the weather will have righted itself by next week.

Niall & Antoinette said...

Perpetua - enjoy it while it lasts :-)

BTW 'our' hare is back [blogged about her last year about this time]. Niall saw her -she's very large- slowly hopping past the back door early this morning.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Leon & Sue - rest assured that as soon as the sun comes back out we'll be on the terrace glass in hand :-)

The Broad said...

It would seem that much of the Northern Hemisphere is in the same boat!

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Broad - and the moment it shows no signs of going away!

rusty duck said...

I have been outside today, but wrapped up in a thick winter fleece. It is quite odd, some summer flowers are brazening it out, and here am I looking like an eskimo.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Rusty duck - LOL! sadly we too are doing good impersonations of eskimos!

Craig said...

It is odd for it to be so wet and chilly in your area so late, isn't it? It's all over the place... we had 22C here on Monday and today it's to be 12C! But at least its dry and sunny. Here's to an improvement for you.

Niall & Antoinette said...

@Craig - still a chilly 12C today but at least we're getting some sun. Heard about the snow on your hills! Brrrr!