After the worst winter I can recall, spring finally seems to be here.
The sun's shining, and it feels warm outside. Now we just need the grass to grow!
The winter of 2012-13 hasn't been particularly cold, although the relentless easterly winds have brought unseasonably cold weather at the very time we were expecting spring, but it's been by far the wettest few months I've experienced.
Every autumn, we decide how many sheep we are going to keep through the winter on our two hectare (five acre) field. The Welsh mules are very hardy, and normally manage very well on the meagre grass that the field provides, but if it snows, we help them out with bought-in food. I decided that fifteen would be a good number. That would give plenty of sheep to train dogs with, and (I thought) unless the winter was particularly harsh, wouldn't cost us much in feed. How wrong I was!
In reality, the ground was so wet, and the grass so short, that even the lightest use converted it into a mud bath quite early in the season. We normally run sheepdog training courses throughout the winter, but this year, we didn't run a single course from November until March.
At one stage, the field was so wet that even allowing the dogs to run on it was out of the question. We resorted to taking them into a private wood adjoining our field.
Now though, I really feel the air is warmer, and the sunshine stronger, so the grass should grow quickly, and hopefully, all will be back to normal very soon.
What with the cost of sheep feed, and the loss of revenue from sheepdog training courses and sheepdogs (the training area was so wet, we couldn't even train our own dogs) this winter has been something of a disaster for us, but at least we now have quite a few dogs that are ready to train - all I need is the time!