Difficult Day: A Study in (mostly) Black & White


Dawn breaks over a chilly Parc Gwair

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.

The Ffarm before the Storm....

The Ffarm before the Storm....& yes, that is a 4x4 in the foreground - not that it's going anywhere, any time soon!

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.

Let the blizzard commence....

Let the blizzard commence....

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.

....& by mid-afternoon there's no sign of it relenting: now I really AM worried.  And where are those paths I so painstakingly dug...?!

....& by mid-afternoon there's no sign of it relenting: now I really AM worried. And where are those paths I so painstakingly dug...?!

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!!

A chilly mascot guards the Milking Parlour vacuum pump

A chilly mascot guards the Milking Parlour vacuum pump

 But Brynn’s novel experience evidently does…..

En Guard.......

En Guard.......

…..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…..


"There's goats in that-thar barn...."

About LittleFfarm Dairy

The LittleFfarm Dairy Team: Jo - Goat farmer & Gelatiere Artigianale, plus General Dogsbody; Tony - Airline Pilot & part-time Herd Manager, Product Taster, Accounts Secretary, Handyman etc!
This entry was posted in Animals, Anything Goes, Aviation, Dairy, Diary, Drama, Environment, Equine, Family, Farming, February 2009, Food, Goats, Life, Livestock, Local Area, Locality, Media Archive, MindBodySpirit, Nature, News, Sheep, Smallholding, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Difficult Day: A Study in (mostly) Black & White

  1. Jo says:

    Blimey, well done on coming through it unscathed!

    You should print off a copy of the Long Barn photo and put a caption on it – “I survived the 2009 Storm”

    Brynn’s looking wonderful, he’s trebled in size since the last photos you posted! He’s gonna be a handsome dog when the growing’s finished!

  2. I’m with you with the Julie Andrews sentiments! We just got hit a-gain with snow! This, after a week of lovely sun that got me worrying I was running behind in the garden planning stage…all is not lost now though I’m sick to death of my water bucket ice sculptures!

    Bring on Spring, HDR

  3. paula says:

    I’d quite overlooked this post Jo…and all I can say is wow, however did you cope?
    It’s tiring enough carrying back and forth to barns in normal bad weather, but in feet of snow, and a full on blizzard, it’s neigh on impossible – exhaustion? Well that’s just a mini word for how one feels.
    Well done you for getting through it – of course we are now as mild as mild can be! But not for long I hear…

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