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How to spend Christmas Eve...?

I don't know what I had planned to do today.

It sure as hell wasn't what I ended up doing.


Mom woke me up saying that it is raining ridiculously heavily. By the time I was up, it had eased off, but we later found out that an unofficial estimate suggests we had about 100mm (3.93in) of rain, most of which fell in a half-hour period around 10am. This, I might point out, following a near hurricane (actually, it was, I just don't think it hit us as hard as some places, gusting was measured in the area as 97km/h (60mph).
This is, I should say, a far cry from some poor part of Wales that not only experienced the lowest LOW ever recorded, at 930mb, but also apparently the strongest wind ever recorded on the mainland. Given it was gusting 147km/h (91mph) around Brest, I don't think I want to know what the actual measurement was. Recall the Beaufort Scale pegs Hurricane 12 as 118km/h (74mph). While the Beaufort scale runs from zero (calm) to 12 (hurricane), there are actually scales of 13 to 17 which were added in 1946. To date, only China uses them (for tropical cyclones), however given the way the weather patterns seem to be developing, and that there is currently no way using the traditional scale to report wind speeds over 118km/h, maybe we should dust off the extra numbers on the scale?
For what it is worth, the winds recorded in Brest were a hiccup shy of 14 on the extended Beaufort Scale.

So I look to see if there are any trees down (no) and I note that we have both power and internet; when I see water pouring over the driveway.
I mean that literally.

I get a shovel and scrape a few gouges into the sides of the road so the water can better drain. I tell Mom to phone the neighbouring farmer to ask if he has any bright ideas. She phones and says "Get your sorry ass over here before I beat you to death with a shovel" (hint: don't get Mom angry), then comes out to help with digging while I occupy myself scooping water out of the old boiler room with a dustpan (well, it was the first thing that looked useful). If it gets beyond there, it risks going into the "cave" (sort of like a ground-level cellar) and possibly through into the kitchen. You get the idea.
And so it goes for an hour or so until Mom's work sees the level of the water begin to lower. There is a concrete sill, so happy that it wouldn't overflow, I went out to help dig more drainage channels and such into the banks and verges. Slowly, ever so slowly, the work started to take effect.

The farmer did eventually turn up, and said it was an exceptional event, blah blah. Yeah. We noticed. But what angered me is when he said that having our part of the stream cleared out would make no difference.

Allow me to explain. There is a small drainage stream that runs maybe a kilometre across fields. It is the runoff from a pond that appears to have a natural source nearby. Typically, water in the stream is about four to six inches, although that varies greatly depending on weather and season. There can be a foot of water in winter when it is raining, and nothing at all in summer.
This part of the stream in managed by the farmer. In recent years he has put in a lot of land drains. Once or twice a year, the ditch is dug out and cleaned to within an inch of its life.
This drains into our pond. Well, it was a pond - with fish and all - until Dickhead Farmer cleaned the ditch upstream when water was flowing. Gee, now where do you think all the mud ended up? I'll tell you where, our NOT pond. Oh, yes, it is great for the wildlife - the muskrats love it, but in terms of ecology, total and utter FAIL.
From the pond, the stream carries on going. Our part is a mass of brambles and such. Well, I say "our part" as it is on the boundary of our land. Split down the middle, it is half our responsibility and half his. We had it all dug out in 2002, at a cost of over €200 which was part of a favour. I say this to illustrate how a farmer with diggers and stuff is a lot more capable to do the work than somebody who would have to pay over a third of their monthly salary - yes, I estimate €350 for starters. Since he clears nearly a kilometre of drain, would it hurt to do a hundred metres extra? Apparently it would, for it has never otherwise been cleared or maintained. In fact, farmer comes up with an elaborate excuse to demonstrate how clearing out the ditches on our side would make no difference whatsoever. All, I should point out, complete and utter bollocks. Why? Simple. The ditch does not empty into our kitchen. It goes somewhere. Somewhere else. Somewhere downstream.
The truth would appear to be that in his head he is likely thinking about how much it would cost him to have that extra part of the ditch cleaned up (given the guy with the equipment comes as far as the pond) plus not really wanting "our" stream to flood into "his" field; with a blinding lack of insight as to why all this water is here anyway.
It is at this point I point out that all the water is going to come pouring down his side of the stream, all tidy and open, and crash into the rather large impediment that is our part of the story. As he is denying such a thing is possible, I ask him to his face if he failed Physics at school.
Here - see for yourself.

Furthermore he goes on to explain that we live in a dip (partly true) and how water collects here naturally. It seems to me that he has just destroyed his own argument here - because if this is true, what sort of irresponsible prick installs a dozen land drains over a vast area of dump into a house where water collects? As it happens, I believe two things:

  1. There is nothing that can be done about the impediment that is our driveway. It is the first time I have seen water pouring over the driveway; this was a freak storm and large scale land drainage following extremely heavy rain on horribly mismanaged fields are a combination from hell. In this situation, the word I am looking for is "inevitable".
  2. The field to the west and north/west is lower than our pond. This we aptly demonstrated by helping the pond drain by hacking a hole into the bank so it could drain on to his field (oh diddums, it's just a cover crop you dips**t). Therefore, while our pond would need a lot of expensive work to restore it to being a pond, if the drain-way out of the pond was clear, the water would come in and go out. Kind of like how anybody with a modicum of intelligence might imagine. So I believe that if the ditches were dug downstream of the pond, the water would flow across the driveway (as said above) but he house would not be in danger of flooding because the water level would not get that high.
Let's just say, we all should be glad I don't know how to say "irresponsible prick" in French.


As you can imagine, I am none too happy with said farmer right now. But it goes far far beyond this to an endemic situation of mistreated land and policies devised by utter morons. The land around here is hard-panned. It is rarely ploughed properly, it is usually ploughed fairly shallow which means that what is below is being compacted and never gets broken up. So when you get 100mm of rain fall, the ground absorbs little, most just bounces off. I would not be surprised if it was barely damper than normal at the depth of a metre.

The farmers these days take this to a new state of sickness when the field is shallow-ploughed by one tractor. Another tractor follows with a disc harrow to smash up the clods and make it fairly flat. A third tractor follows with a thing that sounds like a giant vacuum cleaner. This makes furrows, lays out the seeds, covers them, pats them down, and rolls the ground flat afterwards. The entire plough-and-seed cycle can be done in a matter of hours. Tell me this is good land management.

It gets worse. There is a problem with nitrates in the soil which might "coincidentally" (note the scare quotes) be related to the amount of slurry being thrown around with wild abandon. As a result of this, the current idea is to leave a cover crop on the fields in the winter. Not only is it really bizarre seeing green fields in winter time, but obviously the pencil pushing jerk that came up with this idea failed to understand that leaving the earth turned in the cold months actually had a specific reason. Perhaps the problem is endemic to us all? We do not need to eat so much meat as we do now, which in turn would mean the farmers don't have to get rid of millions of gallons of waste products, which means our water won't be polluted, and the land can be managed responsibly. One of the parts of the cycle needs to be broken, but which?


Oh yes...




Merry Bloody Christmas.


[I'll probably feel better tomorrow once I've dried off]


By the way: Google Translate suggests "Vous piqûre irresponsable!" which is commically wrong ("piqûre" is a prick as in an injection), and switching for a non-slangy version results in "Vous pénis irresponsables!" which completely fails to capture the essence of what is being said.
Perhaps: Connerie de putain de bordel de saloperie de merde de la putride chair en décomposition du cadavre de ta mère!
Now that expresses the sentiment perfectly. [gee, I feel better already ☺]


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joe, 28th December 2013, 23:44
It looks more, like 1000 millimeters of rain. 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2014
Jess, 29th December 2013, 14:03
"Connerie de putain de bordel de saloperie de merde de la putride chair en décomposition du cadavre de ta mère!" 
Have you read what Google translates that to be?
joe, 30th December 2013, 23:03
Rick, 31st December 2013, 01:07
Yup, I think the Google translation captures the essence of what I wanted to say. :-)

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