It was the unearthly halflight which caused me to stir from an uneasy slumber.
Anxious after my restless night, I was exhausted through lack of sleep, coupled with the concern that coping alone with these inclement conditions might prove a challenge too far, even for my bravest attempts. Tony was absent on some intensive simulator flying training; but now he was decidedly away from the ffarm, if the weather took a turn for the worse he would not be able to come home, anyway….& I would simply have to manage – no matter what.
Curling my freezing hands around a comforting mug of Earl Grey tea, I revived the fire in the parlour’s capacious woodburner & waited stoically for the freezing dawn.
My worst fears were realised. A thick blanket of snow – several inches deeper than that which had fallen, late yesterday evening – carpeted our little world with an eery, mufflingly ominous pearlescence. And snow was still falling: small, hard, determined grains, relentlessly dropping from the pitiless slate-grey sky.
Awkwardly pulling a warm jacket over my thick, stubby sweater I donned scarf, hat, gloves & wellies; whistled to the dog & armed myself with the spade I’d set next to the cottage door.
After clearing the steps of seveeral inches of snow I made my way out onto the silent, slippery Arrivals Yard. I gasped at the raw cut of the wind; it was bitterly cold & I wasn’t surprised to find that every pipe in the Dairy Complex, was frozen solid. Thankfully we have a massive hot water tank in the milking parlour, so I was able to run sufficient water to fill plenty of buckets so that the animals wouldn’t be short of something good to drink.
I then had to dig pathways across the farmyards so that I could trundle barrowloads of hay, hard feed & drinking water to all of my charges which took some considerable time & was a depressing activity too; as no sooner were the paths dug & the animals fed, than yet another heavy fall of snow would undo all of my well-intentioned hard work.
The sheep were indignant at being kept indoors; however not knowing just how bad the weather might become & realising that to let them out would make the task of feeding them even more arduous, I decided to politely but firmly ignore their indignant, insistent bleating & leave them tucked up in their snug shed with a rackful of the softest hay I could muster in recompense.
Being hardy native-breed equines, the ponies & horses had no choice but to ‘rough it’, outside. I stumbled up the hill & spread piles of hay from the tarpaulin-covered bales I’d pre-positioned, in anticipation of the approaching snowstorm; but by this time the otherwise steady snow had turned into a raging blizzard, the northerly wind whipping stinging clouds of sharp ice into my face so that I could scarce see a thing.
This proved too much for the ponies; & unlike me they sensibly tucked themselves underneath the thick, high hedge at the top of the field which at least afforded them some reasonable shelter. But I knew they must be hungry.
Gritting my teeth I gathered up heavy armfuls of hay, & slipped & struggled my way up the field to feed them. They were clearly grateful & immediately fell upon the first pile; so I repeated the journey a further five times until they had more than enough fodder to keep them going.
By now I was decidedly warm with exertion; but with extremities freezing & my clothes & hair creaking & stiff with ice it was time to head back to the cottage for some much-needed hot, soupy sustenance. However, not before I’d rechecked all my other charges; & topped up the bird feeders with plenty of fat-laden winter treats.
The whole cycle was repeated again, after lunch; & yet again, in the evening – thankfully by which time the snow had stopped falling & a slight thaw had even set in.
Brynn eventually felt brave enough to venture outside properly (the cats were far more sensible & remained indoors, even the indomitable Moriarty) – but Brynn loved it, regardless.
Mind you, whereas Julie Andrews might have waxed lyrical that “snowflakes that fall on my nose & eyelashes” rated amongst her Favourite Things, after this morning’s blizzard I can safely saythat I can do without them, for quite a while now…..
But with the weather forecast not set to improve I’m not relishing a repeat performance, tomorrow.
Concrete (or at least die-cast) evidence that goats do not like the snow!!
But Brynn’s novel experience evidently does…..
…..as it means one thing: PLAYTIME!!
And a simply stunning picture of our ancient Long Barn, dusted with suitably seasonable, wintry greetings. It’s magic moments like this that make the toil & trouble melt away like snow…..