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We’re drying up here!

August 2, 2006
The weather is always a topic of conversation here in Finland. Even when the weather is good; it’s not good enough for most Finns, who often find some fault with the weather.
Finland is in the throws of the driest summer in almost 50 years. While parts of Europe and places in Canada and the U.S. have been sweltering (and experiencing severe storms) – we’re basically just drying up here. The weather in Finland is actually pretty boring (except for those monster storms we had last August).
In any case the dry weather is of course affecting water levels, forests and the environment in general. But it is starting to trickle down to the point where it is starting to affect people all over Finland. Grain  yields may be up to one-quarter lower than last year; this in turn means that farmers don’t have enough feed for their cattle. YLE News reported that Finnish farmers are culling some of their animals because they cannot feed them all. The hay harvest was poor to begin with and the second harvest failed miserably. Some farmers are feeding their cattle this winter’s feed already.
Lake levels are between 20-50 cm lower than normal for this time of year. This makes it difficult for inland transport, i.e. barges to navigate the lakes because they have less leeway to deal with. This is not the first time inland shipping has had this problem; 2004 was also a dry summer in Finland. Lower water levels have also meant decreased fish catches and possible hikes in electricity in the near future because hydroelectric stations are having to resort to coal to meet demand.
The vegetable and berry harvests have also been poor in Finland this summer. While the strawberries were rather good, the cloudberry crop was smaller than last year; blueberries: What blueberries? The blueberry bushes in our backyard yielded nothing this year! Conditions in the bush are much the same. Consumers have been warned that they will pay higher prices for vegetables in the coming months because the conditions have been poor all over Europe.
The Mr. and I have been a bit lazy in taking care of our garden at home and the dry weather has really taken its toll (being on holidays for a week and half didn’t help!). We plan to tackle it tonight to give it the TLC it deserves. The only things that seem to be thriving are our grapevine, the rose bushes and the sunflowers.
All in all we could really use the rain. I’m getting a little worried!
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