A rare morning of peace and quiet at the farm on the M62 as snow closes the roads

We woke to silence, not something that happens here very often.
The M62 is temporarily quiet in the snowThe M62 is temporarily quiet in the snow
The M62 is temporarily quiet in the snow

It was hard to gauge the time without the sound of traffic to tell us we needed to be up.

I lay for some time in the darkness, listening, but nothing broke the eerie quiet that surrounded the house. The windows were completely covered in snow, an icy chill filling the house.

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It’s rare the weather beats the motorway, the gritters and ploughs are usually on the ball, slowly making their way across the highest stretch of motorway in the country. On this occasion, the snow had defeated their best efforts.

The conditions plus a jack-knifed lorry blocking the carriageway had given us a peaceful morning. By lunchtime things were looking different. A solid wall of nose-to-tail wagons sat gridlocked, their drivers staring blankly ahead. Every now and then the snake of engines inched forward, mile after mile of it.

After feeding the cows, we headed out onto the hill to get more bales of hay to the sheep. Hardy, resilient and looking like a flock of abominable snow sheep, they ventured out from under the walls and peat hags to greet us. Woodlands, Gritstones, Herdwicks and Lonks, perfectly at home up on these wind-blown isolated moors and glad to see us!

As we rolled bales out and filled the ring feeders, I looked down the snow-covered hillsides to where the stretch of HGVs from Lancashire to Yorkshire sat.

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I could just make out the wording on the bodies of many of them. Same-day delivery slogans printed down their sides. Just remind me again, how are we, the farmers, destroying the environment?

Repeatedly we are lambasted for our alleged role in the destruction of our planet. Social media regularly hauls us over hot coals, many quick to jump on the bandwagon of the anti-farming brigade. A convenient scapegoat.

The first lockdown has provided us with the proof that we don’t all need to commute to work, the wheels of commerce can still be run by people working from home. Pollution levels dropped dramatically, our skies became clearer and we all for just a brief moment found that connection with nature again.

We seem to be overwhelmed with a generation of “I want it now” people who are more than happy to blame hill farmers like us for the ecological disaster we are now facing rather than admit their next-day delivery plastic gadget from China or their avocado salad might just be at the root of the problem.

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As we head back down to the house for lunch, which I might add has come from our local butcher two miles down the road, I wonder, not for the first time, how we can keep going in the face of such criticism and appalling hypocrisy.

A well-aimed, tightly rolled and icy cold snowball catches me square in the face. Shrieks of laughter from a rosy-cheeked son immediately lifts my frustration and despair. At least for the moment.