For Farmers Weekly June 2014
There is a school of thought that claims that Saturday 21st June was the longest day of the year in 2014. These number crunchers believe that the summer solstice always occurs in the northern hemisphere sometime between June 20 and June 22. Their claims are based loosely around the shift of the Gregorian calendar and the tilt of the earth’s axis. They use very complex equations and claim that they can predict the longest day of the year, every year, extending far into the future. For example, the next time they claim the longest day will occur on the 22nd June will be 2203.
That’s all very well if you have Druid tendencies and you believe in that kind of Mumbo-Jumbo but a few of us in the livestock business can be a bit more precise than that. Anyone who shows livestock at the Royal Highland Show will be able to confirm that the Sunday of the Royal Highland Show is always the longest day of the year no matter what the date is!
At the end of a very arduous week, both physically and mentally, the ‘Long Sunday’ is a real test of your resolve to return the following year.
We use extremely sensitive instruments like the souls of our feet and precise indicators such as the colour of our urine to confirm the longest day every year. Really sore feet and excruciating pain in the legs and lower back is the first sign that it’s Sunday at the Highland. Four days standing on concrete and tarmac wearing inappropriate footwear has this effect on people who use a Honda far more than their legs.
A quick glance down when you visit the loo on the Sunday morning and the careful use of a Dulux colour chart will also confirm that Long Sunday has begun.
When the shade of your output has changed from the light and golden shade of ‘Desert Sunrise’ from the classic range and now resembles the much darker ’Autumn Gold’, from the industrial collection, then the longest day of the year has definitely started.
In amongst all this merriment and mayhem there is at least some serious fact finding research going on. While chatting with old friend over a cheeky wee Irn-Bru on the Sunday morning she could tell me, quite categorically, that claims made by cattle men that they are always up and about every morning by 5am were quite untrue.
She had went deep under cover on the Saturday night and had infiltrated a kist party that was going on down in the cattle lines. Later on, unnoticed by anyone, she had hidden away in the ladies and waited out the long night before emerging at 5 am. She discovered that, apart from a man whistling, Dąbrowski’s Mazurka, with a litter picker in one hand and a bin bag in the other, there was no other sign of human life in the main cattle hall.
Next year the number crunchers may have got it right. They claim the longest day in 2015 is going to be June 21st and it is a Sunday. I haven’t had it confirmed but I think it’s more than likely to be the week of the Highland Show.
With the tilt of the earth, the day of the week and the Royal Highland Show all aligned, 2015 should be a great year for Long Sunday. I’m looking forward to being in Ingliston on that day. However, if the price of beef keeps falling the way it is at the moment, I may well be forced to lay down my colour chart and take up a litter picker and a bin bag instead!