Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Counting the cost of the storms


The hail killed almost a thousand free range hens near us. Why didn't they go inside? Even killed a donkey. Old Guy says he's never known a storm as big as last Friday's. Freakish. The damage is colossal. Fruit trees, maize, sunflowers as well as vines.

What makes it more infuriating is that apparently it could have been avoided. Or at least mitigated. 
Seems I was wrong about the rockets. They've been made effective. These days they don't just go bang, they scatter that silver iodide that gets the water to precipitate as rain before it builds up into big hailstones.

There was a well organised system; a series of lines of 'cannon' across the path of storms which tend to form over the big sea lagoon of Arcachon and head up the valleys of the Dordogne and Garonne. 
But … (big, rather crucial 'But …') they were manned by the Gendarmes. But no longer because of the cutbacks. Now they are manned by volunteers. Fine. Except of course, this being France in August, they're all on holiday! It is just August when the storms happen. Somebody didn't think it through, did they? Millions of pounds damage … many millions.

Barring further storms we at Château La Clarière and Château Verniotte will probably still make a perfectly reasonable wine. We always seem able to, no matter what. It’s just that there won't be a lot.

But could be worse. I can't imagine what it’s like for the man who lost 400 hectares of vines!

Yesterday went to see a new golf course nearing completion. It’s just up the road in the next valley where the vines end and the forests of Périgord begin. I always loved that valley. Was taught to hunt cêpes there. There are truffles, too. Bit worried about my mushroom valley, I was. But they've done a lovely job. The trees look even more beautiful now.

It opens next year. I'm hoping to get a deal so my visiting customers can play as guests. Châteaux, vineyards, our restaurant at St. Genes ... and golf.  I have a few old mates would think life couldn't really get better than that.

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