The snow lies a foot deep on the ground here. At last the snow plough has cleared the lane and the farmer has cleared the yard. When the feed merchant came with sheep food on Monday he got as far as the farm gate but couldn't get into the yard, so drastic measures were called for. Now we have a mountain of very dirty-looking snow on the side, but a very clear yard and drive.
The birds are coming to the bird table in droves. At one time this morning we had fourteen blackbirds and eight long-tailed tits. It is on days like this that I wish I had a more sophisticated digital camera!
Amongst the huge selection of birds at the table is the resident jackdaw; he appears to have a damaged wing and for several weeks he couldn't fly at all. Now, in an emergency - like the sudden appearance of farm cats - he can fly up into the lower branches of a Scots pine. So he is improving. I am hoping he will soon be able to soar skywards. He waddles in and eats his breakfast and then comes again mid-afternoon for his tea.
The sheep are a hardy breed and used to roughing it. They scrape with their front feet in the snow to try and get and the green stuff but with twelve inches of snow this is almost impossible. Then they rear up on their hind legs and nibble at the prickly holly leaves. They eat the hay begrudgingly and look with suspicion at the "sheep nuts" which seem to be slightly different from the last lot. They eat them eventually and any they leave is eaten just before dark as the rooks make their way home to Forty Acre wood. Suddenly the field is black with rooks and when they lift off all the surplus nuts have gone.
The farm cats don't venture far in this weather. But they are restless because the snow has forced a pretty long haired grey feral tom cat to come into their hay loft. He is a big lad and our two neutered toms are a bit scared of him. They have abandoned the loft and have taken up residence in two straw lined boxes in the feed hut - nothing like as warm and cosy but safer. They would be welcome in the farm kitchen but will only venture in if I leave the door open as an escape route. Not in this weather.
The cows and heifers sit and chew the cud, their warm breath steaming in the frosty air. Silage to eat whenever they want, warm water to drink, deep straw to lay in - this weather affects them not at all.
And the farmer? Well wrapped up in many layers against the cold he seems unperturbed by the awfulness of these bitter grey days. His fingers and heels have developed frost cracks but even these he accepts as an occupational hazard. When he comes in in the evening to a big log fire he finds it hard to keep awake, so we have got out the jig saw puzzles. Sleeping from 10pm to 6am is better than dropping off at 7pm and then being awake half the night.