All the warmth of May has totally vanished. When I was getting my broodies out this morning for their daily wander across the garden, I was struggling to keep my hat on as the wind rushed up the valley and drove rain down the back of my neck. I stood for a while with a cup of coffee beneath the dripping leaves of a sycamore tree as I waited for them to emerge, but they clearly had more sense than to leave the comfort of their coops.
The burns around the house have risen in height by more than three feet over last night, and I’m worried that one of my lowest rail traps up on the hill might have been washed away. I’ll go round them this afternoon and check, but my main concern is what effect this rain might be having on any game bird chicks. Despite what the Shooting Times said in last week’s edition, red grouse certainly don’t hatch out in the middle of June, and any chicks hatching now will certainly not be ready for the 12th. Having seen a red grouse chick which could already fly (to some extent) on Thursday, I know that red grouse are probably through the worst of their vulnerable period by now, but black grouse will still be very weak and downy if last year’s hatch dates are anything to go by.
I suppose all this rain is good for the game crop, which has dramatically sprung into life over the past few days. The field now has an encouraging sheen of green when you look at it from certain angles, and although most of that is grass coming up from seed, there’s no way that those little needles of grass will ever smother the rapidly expanding kale, turnip and radish plants.
There’s nothing else for me to do but make sure the partridge chicks are alright, then go to the second hand book shop in Carlisle and see if there’s anything interesting lurking around.