Hazel, willow, beef and storytelling from Bedfordshire

Wet and windy

Flooding in January 2011

Flooding in January 2011

We’ve had a spell of constant strong winds which have been hard work – tiring to be out in all day. Before that it rained enough to saturate the ground. The River Hitt came close to over flowing; it’s been higher, but not much. The lowest lying areas of our meadows were underwater for a day or two and they looked lovely. The willow pollards made the scene typical of lowland England.

I suspect the whole valley would have looked like this for most of every winter a couple of centuries ago, before the river was straightened and its bed dredged to the point where it is something like two metres below ground level. Flood prevention work that the Drainage Boards do is vital to keep neighbouring villages and fields above water, but I do sometimes wonder about the fantastic habitat that has disappeared along with the bed of the river. 

Occasional lapwing, snipe, kingfishers and similar birds visit, bird I imagine their numbers would have been greater in the past and they would have been joined by a host of other species. Otters are back in the catchment although as far as I’m aware, not in this stretch of river. They were here within living memory and it would be wonderful to have them back. I suspect there are too many people about on our bit of land for them to linger much.

The ground had dried out a great deal before it started raining again today. And we are looking forward to getting young stock out onto what little grass and other vegetation there is to be found – it’s then that Red Poll cattle should come into their own; making slow weight gains on the poorest of keep. We aren’t there yet though – perhaps in a fortnight.

After the rain  Jane’s mum wondered how deep the water was – I expect we’ll find her again soon!

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