Storm Arwen: Farmers battle to protect their livestock as thousands remain without power
2nd December 2021
With winds up to 100mph and several feet of snowfall, the storm is one of the worst for several years. Nearly a week after the storm hit many are still repairing damage, and in some areas living without electrical power.
Whilst farmers had been warned to prepare for the storm, the stark difference in weather from the sunny conditions on Friday 26th, to the deep snow over the weekend came as a shock to many and caused extensive damage.
The most severely affected areas were the Wear valley, surrounding Eastgate and north Northumberland, the north Peak District, the south Lakes in northern England, and Scotland.
Scottish energy provider SSEN said that as of Tuesday evening (30th November), power had returned to more than 118,000 homes and businesses, but 9,500 remained without electricity. Chris Burchell, the managing director of SSEN said the impact of the storm had caused “catastrophic damage to the electricity network across the north-east of Scotland and is the most significant event we have ever had to deal with in the area in a generation”.
Ahead of the storm hitting, the Met Office was primarily warning of dangerous winds, but it has been the sudden volume of snow that has had the most dramatic affect on businesses and farmers.
Across Scotland and the upper half of England, farmers will have awoken at the weekend to find themselves either snowed in or facing damage from high winds, and there is currently no way of knowing just how much damage has been caused to farmland. The storm has already taken three lives, with more bad weather on the way, and will have likely claimed livestock as well.
Pictures and footage captured by Herdwicks of Highfields Farm in Onecote, Staffordshire has come to symbolise the plight of farmers working to keep their livestock safe. Having awoken to find nearly their entire flock missing, farmers Kate and Nev shared their efforts to find and retrieve their ewes from deep drifts with their Twitter followers – and the images quickly captured attention.
In footage, now viewed over a quarter of a million times, they can been seen crawling into a deep snowdrift and trying to encourage one of their Herdwicks out, before having to pull the ewe free. The drifts at their farm reached up to 10ft in some places, entirely encasing the sheep.
— Herdwicks of Highfields Farm (@highfieldsherdy) November 29, 2021
Kate and Nev spent hours delicately poking the drifts with their crooks in areas around pens and barns where they thought sheep may have hunkered down.
Fortunately the whole flock was eventually accounted for, and brought to safety uninjured. The footage has now been viewed thousands of times online, highlighting the efforts that farmers put into the welfare of their animals.
Whilst the storm has mostly abated, freezing weather remains with the potential for further snowfall. Many rural families are still without heating, and the continued power outages have raised renewed concerns regarding a rural divide in the UK.
Many rural and farming charities have stepped in to help families and businesses with both emotional and practical support. The Farming Community Network is encouraging farmers impacted to get in touch on 03000 111 999 or email email@example.com.
Have you been affected by the storm? Or any other farming issue? Tell us your experiance by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org