Posted by: jkirkby8712 | December 8, 2010

Wednesday, 8th December 2010 – The weather is the news again!

It all seems quite ironical – a few months ago towards the end of last Summer, our farming communities were optimistic that the decade long drought, and very little rain that came with it over ten years or so,  would be reversed during 2011 and the drought broken.  Yet here we, at the beginning of December – and yes, over the past few months, the drought really has broken  –  but, grain growers across southeast Australia, as reported in today’s ‘Weekly Times’ are facing financial ruin from continuing heavy rain. It seems that already, crops in New South Wales and Queensland have already being decimated by the rain in those states, and now over the next few days, as heavy rains continue to fall, much of the Victorian grain crop is threatened.

I guess it’s not a new story – through history, and around the world – that farmers and their livelihoods will always be at the mercy of climate vagaries, be it drought, rain, frosts, floods, bushfires, and also currently, locusts!!  It was noted yesterday that if the rain forecast for that day, and today occurred,  grain farmers face disaster.  Well, certainly, the rain has come as expected, particularly today, and apart from the farming communities, the threat of major floods to many regional towns and communities, and parts of Melbourne is being given serious attention tonight, as rivers and streams, which in many cases were basically dry twelve twelve months ago, are now close to breaking their banks and inundating low lying land in nearby areas. In fact there are many areas of New South Wales [NSW] and Victoria facing flooding, a follow up from the rains and floods that took place back in September.  The problem with talking about disaster relief yet, is considered a bit early because of the varied nature of the rain –  with rain and hail dumped on some farming areas in massive quantities, others remain basically untouched. Hail can be a particular problem, with some farmers  having crops destroyed, eg, one area in southern NSW saw where  ‘Two hailstorms shredded barley crops, shattered canola, stripped lupin pods and flattened heavy wheat crops’ [Weekly Times, p. 5, 8/12/2010]. Fruit and vegetable growers are similarly being affected, with the unseasonably  wet Spring and early Summer taken a toll on crops like cherries, stone fruits, strawberries, wine & table grapes, etc. No doubt, this will flow on to higher costs to buy those kind of foods in the near future, although the stone fruits seem to be perpetually highly priced, almost to the luxury standard!

Oddly enough, even here at home, I was out briefly tonight, building a bit of a rough levy and drain around the rear of the house – those areas I haven’t cleared of weeds yet!!  –  not that there was any danger here, but I noticed quite a build up of water during one heavy downpour earlier this evening around the back of the house, so decided to try and give it an ‘escape’ route. Reminded me of my first year or two in Sunbury in the middles 1980s, during another wet period there for a while. Our home was one of the first in a particular area of the Goonawarra Estate, and still had a large area of vacant land behind us, which tended to slope partially downhill towards our back fence. During times of particularly heavy rainfall, the water would flow down from this vacant land, through our back fence, and straight through the property, and out into the street at the front. If it was particularly heavy,  the water had difficulty getting beyond much of our backyard, and would soon be lapping at the doorsteps. I recall three or four occasions, been outside at night with the big gumboots on, digging a series of drains [in places where I didn’t want drains] in order to divert and force the water away from the house. At the time, I think I was more worried about the ‘scars’ I was creating in the rear part of our property than the actual water itself!! I think I still have some photos somewhere of those occasions. These days, I don’t think that same degree of problem occurs because all of the area at the rear of the property has now been developed with roads and houses etc, and any water flow from that area is better controlled now. And of course the land around the house is much more developed itself these days.

Of course thinking about the weather here, and much has been written about the cold spell over in parts of Europe and Great Britain and present. Reports from over there have indicated record early widespread snowfalls in more than 17 years. I really couldn’t imagine living over there in England in those conditions –  in extreme weather which has apparently covered  Scotland and North East England in snow, and closed schools, and not surprisingly, created mayhem on the roads. I’m happy to read about it – would certainly not want to be a driver in that kind of environment! Some of the Fscebook comments from friends and relatives over there, are almost too bizarre to believe, as I commented, it’s like describing to an Australian in this relatively warm climate, conditions of another world!
Such comments as   “Is snowed in at work and cant get home!”  and   “We have just come back over as we went to see if the Indian was open..it isnt..neither is the chippy..and the Byre beyond our budget. The canteen are giving staff free food up to value of £3.50 so me and Eileen each got a chicken burger and…(tharr be more) chips..with ketchup and vinegar !! Even had enough for bottle of Irn Bru. Brian, the traffic apparantly round the town centre area is grid locked. I wouldnt wish you to come out in it. Eileen and I have “borrowed ” blankets and pillows from the Ward as there are no beds left for us !! We also have wine, lol !! “  and later “Eileen and I listening to the radio. We have 7 pillows between us and 2 blankets…and 5 chairs so sure we can make a bed somehow !! Also got a bottle of wine each from Alberto and thats on standby..could easily chill it by hanging it oot the window !! Pamela, hope they get home safely but its taking 2 hours to get from Hairmyres to EK town centre and thats about 2 miles…the gritters are stuck in the gridlocks. Hairmyres is on “major alert” status.  Or  “There is a HUGE jam around the M74 area and M8 due to 2 jackknived lorries. There is traffic jamming back on M8 in the motorway just outside Glasgow. Its madness. Roads in East Kilbride are not moving at all so we wouldnt even be able to make an attempt at getting cars out until after 8pm. and heard on Radio Clyde that STrathaven is hell !”  So there you go, things could be worse here!!  [incidentally, those comments made by a ‘distant cousin’ whom I met recently through my current family history research].
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