The joys of country living

I awoke on Monday morning with a sinking feeling in my stomach. Looking out of the window I realised why. A blanket of snow covered the garden, shrubs trees, fences as far as the eye could see. It was 6.10 am and I had to be at work by 9 am.

I groaned as I pulled on my three layers of stable clothing. Brrrr I thought, as the central heating hadn’t yet kicked in. Managing to get downstairs without being tripped up by  Minnie or Maisie who chased down with me, hopeful for a handful of biscuits for breakfast, I filled the hens’ saucepan with water.

After yet two more layers of clothing, a silly-looking wool hat with ear flaps and thick gloves, I ventured out of the back door. Brrrr, I said out aloud.  Brrrrr, I said again, as I looked at the  thermometer.  -12 degrees it said. Brrrr flippin’ brrrr, I said again.

The catch on the gate into the field was frozen, as was the bolt on the stable door and the clip on the gate into the hen’s run. Unable to touch metal anywhere with my bare hands, as they stuck to it, I kept my gloves on.

After giving Max his breakfast I mucked him out. His droppings (poo to you) and the water in his bucket were frozen solid, as was the outside tap.

I groaned, (again) when I saw the accumulation of snow on the netting above the chicken run.

Snow on chicken run netting

Snow on chicken run netting

Instead of 5′ high, the weight of the snow had reduced the height of the netting to more like 3′. Before I could open up the hens’ pop hole, I would have to remove the snow weighing down the netting. This I did with a broom, from underneath. Thank god for my hat, I thought, as the snow showered down around me.

I found some parcel tags (which were, surprisingly, where they were supposed to be) to anchor the netting that I’d pulled tight down the sides of the run. This done, I could open the pop hole.

Don't want to come out, thanks very much

Don’t want to come out, thanks very much

Oh well, stay in there I said, and they did – all day. Don’t blame them, at -12 degrees I didn’t want to stay outside either.

Next job? Breaking the ice on the trough with a lump hammer and scooping it out with a sieve so it didn’t knit together. It was over an inch thick. Brrr, I thought.

Had to fill Max’s water buckets in the bathroom and every time I went into the house my glasses steamed up. What a struggle, I thought as I trudged down the drive to open the gate. All of this before I try to get to work to start my day job!

Finally, all the outside jobs done, I could go in to shower, breakfast, get dressed and off…. Oh, better get the snow off the car and turn on the ignition to warm it up, I thought.  Easy peasey, right?  But no, I couldn’t open the driver’s door! No matter how I tugged, it wouldn’t budge! So back into the house for some warm water and a sponge and yet again not being able to see because of my glasses steaming up. Blow this for a game of soldiers, I thought, as again I left the house with a another bucket of warm water. After a few minutes, I managed to thaw out the ice around the door and it opened. Allellujah, I said as I started the car. Crikey, it started first time!

As I drove down the drive, a mere 40 minutes late for work, I looked in the mirror to see Max standing by the gate, looking at me ….

Can I come in now please, mum?

Can I come in now please, mum?







8 thoughts on “The joys of country living

  1. Loved your piece on the Joys of Country Living, especially the photo of the chicken keeping warm inside while you struggle to the office and of Max wanting to be in the warm.

    • Thanks Val for your kind words re my last post. The previous post, Two Little Miracles, was such a special story to me, I felt that anything that followed it would seem very mundane. But life is like that I suppose, we can’t have exciting things happen to us every day. Life is mostly made up with the mundane. But maybe that’s just as well, because it really makes us appreciate the special things when they come along!

  2. My Sister keeps Chickens and Rabbits and my Dad is a Bee Keeper (hence HonieB).
    We used to have loads of animals in our old family home on the edge of the valley but it’s more modern living on the edge of the village by the fields now. Still very windy with all the joys of the severity of what the wind brings in (flying wheelie bins as well as deeper snow), but 2 cats (as unique as they are) are not quite the same as the equilalent of a ‘small farm’.
    I thought it was funny when Tilly Tiger Socks and Nochi Blue Boy stood at the front door last week to ‘view’ the snow (reluctantly), but a short time later, they discovered how much fun it was: digging it up; throwing it up and catching it; running and sliding in it and their favourite game – tumbling with each other and skipping (very high) over each other’s backs in the garden.
    They now cry to go out when it snows! I don’t have catflaps, as there are a lot of cats nearby and I don’t fancy holding the local Cat Club. Also because of their breeds, they were initially house cats and I’ve given in to letting them out a few hours in the morning and later in the day (they have a routine, which they ‘mostly’ stick to).

    I loved reading your post and your ‘as it happened’ account of your morning. I could imagine you cursing and huffing as you ploughed on with your morning tasks. I shall never complain about getting the kids ready in the warm again lol. It was your picture of the hens that reminded me of my cats at the door, reluctantly looking out at the snow (pic on Facebook).

    We had a break from the snow up here in the shelter of the Pennines, but here it comes again, Amber warning cries out – get ready for the chaos!

    • How interesting that you come from a small farm background – You will understand the hardships involved in having animals in the winter. It really is (s)no(w) joke! I have never known it so cold, when padlocks, car doors, stable buckets, everything frozen solid. That particular night it was -14 degrees, which my outside thermometer has never registered before.
      It must be lovely to watch your cats frolicking in the snow. Minnie and Maisie, despite being sisters, are no longer close. The same thing happened as my two previous cats, brothers, once they grew up. One of them is always jealous of the other because they get on my lap first, or their sixth sense tells them that their brother/sister is my favourite. I hate the idea of having favourites, but one always seems to be more affectionate, or needs to be close to me more than the other.
      Last year I installed a brilliant catflap that only lets my cats in. Both cats are microchipped and all you have to do is input their microchip number into the catflap, and it will only let them in. We had the neighbourhood tom coming in, and traumatising them and eating their food. Now it is cat heaven with no intruders! Certainly worth the £65 or so it cost me.
      Thanks so much for your visit, tis much appreciated!

  3. Just discovered your blog, what a great read!

    We too struggled last week with the very low temperatures and snowfall – made the tasks of caring for my two dogs, and especially our 6 sheep and 2 ducks (one of them very elderly) even more time consuming.

    Thankfully the thaw has helped reinstate our daily routine – yet our stream is very high now and of course the high water levels are bringing with them a whole host of other problems!

    • Hello Chloe, how lovely that you have visited my blog. Your comment is much appreciated as somebody who understands what it is like coping with animals outside when the weather is so cold. It is a constant struggle, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The animals bring so much pleasure, it’s the least I can do to look after there every need!
      Do hope that your stream doesn’t flood your land. Am lucky, in a way, as I have no running water near my immediate land. My meadow is surrounded by ditches that were running quite high this morning, but no fear of flooding thank goodness.

    • He’s my loveliboi, such a sweetie, though he can be naughty sometimes. So sensitive, a real people horse i.e. really locks onto humans. Doesn’t seem at all troubled that he doesn’t have equine company. Why should he, he has me! Often laugh at him… think he’d come and sit in front of the wood burner with me if he could.

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