Weather-wise, I can never again say that April is one of the best months to come here. Other Aprils have been, but 2012's has not.
It has rained, I think, every day. Sometimes very hard, sometimes quite gently, occasionally what they call "mizzle" in Cumbria - a cross between mist and drizzle. We've seen the sun only occasionally and briefly - just enough to be reminded of the warmth to come - and temperatures have seldom touched the high teens. With almost constantly cloudy skies it's all been a bit English, to be honest - a huge contrast to last year's mid 20s to mid 30s and blistering sunshine.
On the plus side, our water butts are in great shape, the ground is saturated and with the addition of mulch will need very little watering for a while, the hay will be awesome this year and the woods are a startlingly bright green. Our wild flowers arrived on time, and Early Purples and Burnt orchids litter the meadow. The birds have also returned, and Golden Orioles have been exotically touting for their mates outside our yurts for a couple of weeks.
Although all of these things are exciting and wonderful, perhaps the hay is most reassuring. This time last year I was looking at the sky and wondering if it was ever going to rain. It didn't, and the hay was terrible. People were getting half their normal yield and this precious food was scarce from October. Trucks were bringing in hay from all over Europe which, from a sustainability point of view, was insanity.
When you have a big animal, like Pepito, you become painfully aware of how much everything depends on the rain. It's a simple equation: No rain = No big animals. To give you a clearer idea, he eats one small bale of hay every day for about six months, with some rolled oats and re-hydrated beet for good measure. I don't know anything about cows, but they probably consume even more. Two or more years in a row like that and these animals would no longer populate the landscape in such numbers.
Which is why, even after a month of rain, I'm a happy bunny. I just wish I had one pair of boots without holes in them.