Winter floods are now an annual challenge for farmers. Animals can suffer appallingly in the wet, especially those that might have lost hardiness through selective breeding. Getting food to stock is tough, especially if your own barns are under water. Most ewes will be in lamb, and some in lowland areas have already given birth.
The suffering of Cumbrian livestock in the snows of 2013 encouraged Lincolnshire farmer Andrew Ward to start Forage Aid, which sends hay, straw, haylage and silage to farmers in need. Farmers donate supplies, which are taken by haulage companies, for free, to where they are needed. More help was needed during the Somerset Levels floods of 2014, and over this Christmas and New Year lorries have headed from eastern counties to Lancashire, Cumbria and West Yorkshire. Look at the Twitter account @forageaid to see the daily conversations between farmers down to their last bales in the north west and those delivering from eastern counties.
Forage Aid is supported by the CF Fertilisers firm, which is good news because nitrogen run-off must be a real worry in wet areas. It is heartening that agricultural machinery manufacturer JCB and the supermarket Tesco are listed as corporate partners on the Forage Aid website. I hope other supermarkets and the big dairies offer their support. It is a salutary thought that a fall in UK milk production due to reduced nutrition resulting from floods is easily made up by buying cheap milk abroad. Poor old cows.
Charles Kenyon lives near Market Rasen, email@example.com