Icy! So – busy.
What a bizarre day! It started ordinarily enough: darkness; a slice of toast smeared with a goodly coating of Marmite, munched thoughtfully whilst washed down with a mug of steaming tea & faced with the usual pile of paperwork; & then with the first soft rays of dawn’s early light, time to fling open the front door & face the world (aka a herd of hungry goats).
But something was clearly wrong.
Our cosy little farmhouse faces a wooded valley to the North, & is nestled about three quarters of the way down the valley slope before the ground plunges abruptly to the meandering river below. As a result the Arrivals Yard in front of the farmhouse, is pretty steep; & there is a narrow set of tiered steps to access the front door which runs the length of the front of the cottage.
But that was as far as I got…..
On opening the cottage door our eternally ebullient Border Collie pup Brynn shot past me & whizzed outside – & then in true cartoon fashion, immediately applied his brakes – which promptly failed: with the poor pup flying straight off the front step & landing smackety-bang-slap against the car door after which promptly sliding down (pawmarks & all) & then slithering beneath the vehicle….& to my increasing alarm, onwardds down the steep & rough-hewn slope of the Arrivals Yard.
I instinctively rushed to his aid – only to find my own legs literally whipped from under me owing to a thin but rock-solid & treacherous carpet of the slipperiest ice I think I’ve ever had the misfortune to step upon. Thus literally floored, I crawled back on all fours – by which time Brynn had regained his footing & using his claws as crampons & seemingly unperturbed by the ice, came romping after me & proceeded to jump all over me whilst I made an undignified exit from the yard.
Clasping at the nearby garden gate pillar to pull myself upright I was horrified to discover that it too, was completely covered in ice & offered no purchase whatsoever for my frantically scrabbling fingers. I managed to access a frost-flecked patch of grass & made my way around the back of the cottage & up through the wintry orchard, clambering back down a gap on the bank above the driveway & across to the east side of the farmyard. But here too, the road was literally a river of ice: that rare phenomenon of freezing rain had evidently swept from the skies & sent a brief tidal wave down the hill before that too, set solid. And as the river ran down the hill & I needed to cross it directly, the situation was all the more complicated & dangerous….
After about half an hour I managed to shuffle across; but it was clear I would not be able to easily access the haybarn to collect fodder for the goats – & it would be completely impossible to get back up the slope with a fully-laden wheelbarrow of bales of hay. I managed to get inside the Dairy Complex & from there at least give the adult goats their hard feed; then I slid (rather too quickly for my liking) down the hill to the barn on my backside whilst balancing a bucket of feed between my knees. Once in shelter I was able to safely walk through the dry haybarn & down into the rear doorway to the Long Barn – thank goodness I could. From there I was able to get onto the less steep & partially grassed Middle Yard, & just about managed to make it across to the Kidding Shed & poultry barn.
The little goatlings were grateful for their (by now) elevenses; as were the hungry hens who had evidently by that point been wondering where on earth their breakfast service had got to. With careful planning I managed to get hay to the goatlings & sheep before picking my way back up the slope from the haybarn with just a couple of wedges of hay at a time as it was still impossible to get a barrow anywhere near the slippery slope.
Our big grey Maine Coon cat, Moriarty, demonstrated his consummate skill in humiating me in the face of the inclement weather by casually strolling alongside me throughout, his massive snowshoe paws easily coping with the icy conditions. A wintry, watery sun shone palely throughout, eventually providing just enough radiation to crack the surface of the ice in enough places to make it safer to walk upon, albeit with extreme care.
I managed to ease the car cautiously up the drive & visited friends Keith & Michaela at Flyon Equestrian with a cry for help; & they kindly agreed to help me return our errant equines back to their field tomorrow (which will prove another adventure methinks….!).
A quick drive over to Ffosaron to bid good evening to the ponies & to explain to the guys that I’d at last be returning the ponies back to their own field, & I hastened back to the farm & hurried through the chores, positioning extra hay & feed at strategic points in case tomorrow brings similar challenges. All in all though, the morning chores took me almost all day to complete; thank goodness one the night froze over again the conditions were not nearly so bad.
Does this artic blast bode tidings of cold weather for the rest of December, I wonder? Whilst we really could do with a good cold spell to kill off some of the bugs which have been breeding over the last couple of mild, damp winters, life here can certainly be hard when having to cope alone – not to mention the responsibility of having to keep myself relatively injury-free in order to effectively manage the farm when snowed or iced in; & with Tony having another spell in the Airbus simulator trip over the past few days, with all the excitement it’s already proved an unexpected challenge…..
….roll on, Summer.