Spring Has Sprung
There were more than a few townspeople among the guests at Hartford House this weekend, who lamented the rain which forced a reappraisal of their outdoor plans, and again this morning, there was a rush among the guests for "Summerhill" apparel, particularly fleeces and weather-beaters, when a snow-bedecked Drakensberg emerged from the clouds at 6:30 am. For us though, the farming types, it was manna from heaven. In our 35 years at Summerhill, we've never known quite as mild a winter, and while the spring has been predictably unpredictable, the bit of rain we've had might otherwise have sufficed where it not for the soaring "summer" temperatures and cork-dry berg winds September and the early part of October brought with them. Uncharacteristic weather plays havoc with breeding plans and the foaling process, where creatures of habit generally follow the dictates of habit, no matter our human interventions. Places like the Karoo, the Western Cape and sometimes the Eastern Cape can justifiably use the term "drought", but it's hardly a term us Natalians can claim to belong to us. The last time we could genuinely complain that things were dry, was 1992, when irrigation dams dropped to a third of their capacity, but we all coped. While outsiders may have noticed that the terrain was different, they would hardly have said we were in trouble, beyond the obvious drop in our dam levels.
Snow on the mountains in late October you might say is unseasonal, and you're right, but it's not unprecedented, and while it may send a few shivers down the spine, the largesse this morning includes the free-flow of our rivers and an immeasurable supply of free nitrogen for the environment. Not that its deterred our visitors: an American banking group, charmed by the contrast between a beautiful spring garden and the chills of a glistening Giant's Castle, promptly booked their return visit to Hartford next year on check-out this morning.
For all the trials and the tribulations that accompany the foaling season, it's been pretty much free-wheel in 2013, and while that says something for the husbandry skills of a team that ranks with the best anywhere, it always helps to remember that whatever you do, Mother Nature is still in charge.