AS I write, clouds the colour of slate are racing across the sky bringing the rain smallholders have dreamed of for weeks. It will take prolonged drenchings, though, to go even half way to mitigating the damage done to the agricultural and horticultural sectors and people’s livelihoods by this summer’s heatwave, something we touch on in our newly enlarged News section (page 5).
Many smallholders who do not have the luxury of mains water and who have found their usually gushing private pipes dwindling to a trickle or a drip (read Joyce Brocklebank’s wry account on page 19) have been enduring daily struggles with bowsers. Plenty have also been forced to make emergency calls to borehole drilling contractors.
I have it on good authority from a neighbour that these contractors ran out of parts, such was the demand in July and August. This is the same waterless neighbour who filled his bowser daily from our mains supply until his own new borehole was in ‘full production’ in exchange for a bale of hay, some fragrant home-grown flowers and delicious salads, a type of trade that has been going on in rural areas since time immemorial and which is part of what makes country living so special (see page 24).
Water was my late, much lamented father’s nemesis. As a farmer, extracting his cheque book from the drawer to pay the local water company a huge sum, not only for water consumed but also water lost as it leached out of an aged halfmile private pipe (carrying mains supply) came particularly hard. I can still recall him, head bent towards the kitchen table, neon strip light overhead casting an intense yellow glow, slowly composing letters in his exquisitely neat hand, politely requesting a refund for the water lost. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Looking back I can see the funny side of trying to wash dishes in 4in of water, having to negotiate for the luxury of having a bath and diving across the room to turn off a tap left running by a clueless visitor, a sport also practised by Joyce Brocklebank.
I am pleased to report that said leaky pipe was replaced long ago, but I am still frugal with water and it has been an essential trait recently and could well be going far into the future.