Posted by: puebloman | June 18, 2013

Hill farming in Southern Spain: climate change

Our Iberian water tortoise in bright sun, enjoying the June river water, piped into our water tank

Our Iberian water tortoise in bright sun, enjoying the June river water, piped into our water tank

I farm a little piece of land near the tiny village of Cutar, just north west of the town of Velez Malaga. Velez is the old military garrison north east of Malaga city where the Moorish army was stationed before the Christian reconquest.

We have properties to let in Cutar and in the bigger village of Almachar, a few kilometres down the road. We ran this little letting business with great success for seven of the ten years we have lived here, and less successfully for the last three years – the years of the “crisis”.

During the seven “fat” years, customers from the UK and Netherlands  were regularly telling me  that my beautiful bit of eastern Andalucía – the Axarquia, would be like the Sahara desert in twenty years. That was ten years ago, yet just as these amateur statisticians and curators of arboritoria were rationalising us out of their holidaymaking plans in the white heat of the banking crash, down came the rain. In 2010 it rained from December right through until May, filling up Lake Vinuela that previously had been only 20% full. This year the streams that feed my lower water deposit were fattened up by the winter downpour and are still running.

So no Sahara yet, oh professional and educated amateur weather forecasters. The goats  that are controversially herded down the road from every little village, continue to mangle the herbage and the herbage continues to sprout through. This June is as green as grass, much greener that when we arrived here ten years ago.

God forbid that I should appear to be a “climate change denyer”, those heretics of science –  the new religion –  whose high priests are always right until they’re wrong.

Of course, come August, the hills will be scorched and russet brown in the airless heat of the hot winter we get her every year as sure as the UK gets ice.

It was Mark Twain, my favourite weather forecaster of all time, who said “Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get”.

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