This morning we awoke to another six inches of snow and now, three hours later, it is still snowing. The good news is that the temperature is just about on freezing, so it is not quite so cold, although it feels worse with quite a brisk North wind.
Tess was keen to explore it, so I let her out at 8 o'clock (just the time that the sun rises!) - you will see her in the photograph standing in the snowy dark.
The cattle are snug and warm in their loose housing. The side is open to the elements but it is the South side and there is a roof, so they can see the bad weather without experiencing it. They have a plentiful supply of silage and seem quite happy to sit in the deep straw chewing the cud all day. The sheep - pedigree Swaledales, bred for such conditions - seem quite impervious to the bad weather; some of them have a few inches of snow on their backs but they wander about quite happily. It made me think of how these days one can judge whether a house is fully insulated or not by whether there is still snow on the roof! Of course, typically, they choose to be in the field farthest from the farm, on the top of the hill, open to the elements and will little shelter. The farmer goes up there on the tractor every morning with four bales of hay, 2 bales of sheep nuts and the dog. (Tess would love to go but is barred - this is serious work stuff for border collies only). They all come to eat the hay but only about half of them are interested in the sheep nuts. They would rather paw and scrape at the snow until they find a blade of grass to eat.
Our lane is pretty impassable this morning. The wind blows the powdery snow through the gates and across the lane so that any clearing away of snow is quickly filled up again. But we don't need to get out, apart from collecting our newspapers. If we have to be without them all day I shall suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms, but the farmer can always go on the tractor if all else fails.
He listened to the weather forecast yesterday and as a result we went down to the Feed Merchant and stocked up on feed for the birds, the hens, the farm cats and the dogs, so we should all survive happily. He has just put out a dish of oats, a dish of currants, a dish of chopped suet plus various bits and pieces (garlic bread for one - wonder whether it gives the birds garlicky breath?) and he has filled all the feeders with peanuts, sunflower hearts, mixed seed and fat balls - so hopefully the birds will also survive. I have just watched two cock pheasants in their full winter plumage, stroll through the farm gate and down the drive to the feeders looking for all the world like a couple of smartly dressed young men strolling down the road to their favourite restaurant. Picking their way carefully through the deep snow, they appeared to be chatting casually to one another.
Meanwhile, on the sitting room window sill Spring flowers - azalea, hyacinths and Christmas cactus- bloom, carefully shielded from the weather by double glazing. Have a nice, warm day
##photos. The road to the Feed merchant yesterday - the road is clear but the woodland is still snowy. Tess in the snow at dawn this morning. This morning's view from our front door.