He’ll study the Met Office forecast on his phone, he’ll ask me to check mine to see if they’re comparable and then he’ll phone his uncle, who is as equally fixated on the weather.
Their conversations can last quite some time, involving great lengthy debates about which weather app or which TV station is most reliable. His next phone call is usually to Simon, an arable farmer who lives over on the east coast. An old college buddy and best man at our wedding, he too can chat for hours about the weather.
The Pennines, of course, have their own weather system, a unique micro climate that hill farmers are well acquainted with. I find the best way to determine the day’s weather is to just step out of the door.
It’s fairly predictable up here, you always need a coat, there’s little point in doing anything with your hair (not a huge problem for Paul!) as the wind never stops blowing and no matter how cold you may think it will be, you will always grossly misjudge the sheer volume of layers needed just to stay alive.
The weather is always the first point of discussion with Paul. In his broad Yorkshire accent he’ll tell me what sort of day it is. Most days up here are known as plain. “Its a plain sort of day,” he’ll announce as he strides across the yard.
Plain, as I’ve learnt covers a wide range of weather conditions from rain to fog to grey and overcast. It can be driving, horizontal sheets of rain but to Paul it’s just a plain day!
The recent Arctic blast, with bitingly cold air from the east is referred to as a lean or thin wind.
It’s the type of wind that strips any warmth from your body and makes you gasp as you step out from the warmth of your house. But to Paul, it’s just a thin wind requiring a big coat!
We managed to get our Farnley Tyas ewes scanned just before the snow arrived. It was a long, cold and muddy task. Following weeks of rain and fast-thawing snow, our handling pens quickly turned to a sticky quagmire, that threatened to pull your wellies from your feet if you stood too long.
Batch upon batch made their way up through the race to be scanned, marked and then taken to fresh ground. There was immense excitement as John-William’s ewes were marked with various coloured dots to show how many lambs they were carrying.
Shrieks of “quads, I’ve got quads” followed by “one, only one, is that all you’ve managed” could be heard by most of the village. The rest of our flock scanned well, but more importantly they all looked well.
On the whole, we had good results and judging by the number of triplets and quads due, we’re going to be pretty busy. Hopefully, we’ll manage to secure an extra pair of hands for lambing time. Although we’ve yet to find anyone brave or daft enough to give the motorway farm a go!