Newborn lambs were freezing and parts of the countryside were on fire as spring arrived in a weird way this week.
An electric fence started a roadside fire at Wakanui early Monday morning, a sign of how dry the ground is after a couple of dry months. The district woke on Tuesday morning to snow.
Mid Canterbury firefighters were also among those called to help deal to a massive vegetation fire at Pukaki and the last of the crews coming home found themselves detouring to Ashburton via Kurow because of the spring snowfall.
Ashburton fire chief Alan Burgess said people needed to be mindful of the weird conditions and act with care. While snow this week was welcome moisture, the ground was still dry and spring and summer were on the way.
Valetta farmer David Clark said the snow was a useful water source and had melted almost as quickly as it fell.
Newborn lambs would have felt the cold.
“We’ve had a really dry winter so all moisture recharge is useful and a good dumping of snow in the backcountry will stand us in good steed going forward into the spring as well,” Clark said.
There were few negatives to the spring snowfall, except to farmers who were lambing.
“It’s not a big event, but we expect snow, it’s Canterbury and we haven’t had one this winter. Generally people have got really good feed reserves. It wasn’t deep, and not particulary cold.”
“In the mid-plains those lambing at the moment will be impacted and the high country will be getting a decent wallop of snow but those guys are well, well-practised in dealing with snow much bigger than this.”
Some schools were closed as teachers and students struggled to make their way to class. Ashburton College continued its school exams and reminded students they were especially important if they were unable to sit the NCEA exams later in the year because of a return to covid restrictions.