Monday 21 January 2013

Snow Cat in Preseli Mountains,Pembrokeshire

Yesterday the Farmer & I found this beautiful Snow Cat sitting on the slopes of Carn Ingli overlooking the snowlessness of Newport in Pembrokeshire. We had gone for a day out to walk along the vast & empty shore and while the coastal strip was clear of snow the Preseli Hills were spectacularly beautiful with a heavy covering just couple of miles inland from the beach. The main roads were all clear and our run down was fine but our attempt to head back north through the Gwaun Valley was thwarted by very heavy snow  which had been packed hard and then had a skim of ice on top on the roads & with drifts up the top of the fence posts. Even with our 4x4 it would have been foolish to try and make our way on these roads that we know very well and have steep hills and very tight bends. We turned back and made our way to the main coast road which was boringly snow free and drove through green countryside that had not seen any snow at all. But the Cat was wonderful!
In the last post I reported that the Farmer had gone out to deliver wood to a neighbour driving one of our biggest tractors. Well that expedition turned into an adventure...having gone up clear snow free roads when he reached the neighbours drive which is very long he became horribly stuck! Even with the horse-power of  a large tractor he could not get through the drifts and had to phone home for Elder Son to go with another big tractor to rescue him! It seems that the falls of heavy drifting snow are very localised, within just a couple of miles neighbours are having real problems. We had a lot of snow but it did not blow into huge impassable drifts. Needless to say the neighbour did not get his delivery of wood.

Friday 18 January 2013

Snow, Snow, Snow

For some very boring technical reason that I cannot fathom out I am unable to download any pictures onto the blog so I will just have to rely on words to convey how lovely it is have snow and also how difficult it makes life for us farmers.

As I write it is still snowing albeit very gently and I am looking out onto a hedgerow that has every branch & twig highlighted in purest white, broken only by the rich evergreen gleam of ivy entwining itself through the hedge. The hedge is silhouetted against a background of chill grey skies and and the only movement is that of the steadily falling snowflakes. All the little hedgerow birds are hiding away though the occasional corvid dashes blackly across the sky on some mysterious wintery mission.

For the Farmer & Elder Son the daily routine of feeding & bedding down all the cattle that are in sheds is made difficult by the snow, not only because it is very cold to be out  for any length of time but also the snow churned up into mud becomes a disgusting slurry of brown slush that is very slippery and deeply unpleasant to walk & drive through. The cold is somehow intensified by the messiness and  both the Farmer & Elder Son rejoice in their enormous thermal wellies which are essential if one is out on the farm for any length of time. Cold feet have always been one of the banes of country life but are now a thing of the past thanks to these wonderful very deeply soled and well designed boot which are made using thermal insulating modern materials.

We still have some cattle who are out wintered. These are our rare breed Traditional Herefords and they are not in the slightest way inconvenienced by the harsh weather with their thick coats and ability to forage for grass through the snow. If the weather should get any worse or continue for any length of time then we shall take some silage out to field for them as a supplement. The same applies to the sheep.

Here on the farm when we have weather like this it feels as though we are very cut off from the world as looking acrosss the valley we just see a beautiful monochrome landscape where nothing moves but we have only to go to end of our track and the world is carrying on as usual. The main road is clear of snow and traffic is moving along  freely. The Farmer has gone out on a tractor to deliver some wood to neighbours but the postman did not come this morning and we will have no callers today I'm quite sure. The steeper part of the track is very slippery in snow and we shall have to grit it for the milk tanker tomorrow.

Despite the extra work involved I do love it when it snows, the views are spectacular and as I always have a good well-stocked store-cupboard so we just settle ourselves down and get on with things...and it may only last a couple of days anyway, so we must make the most of it!

Sunday 6 January 2013

January Lambs & Daffodils

Twelfth Night & the Christmas tree has been taken down, the decorations carefully packed away for another year and the pine-needles have been swept up though I will no doubt as usual, be finding them in odd corners for months to come!

The Farmer came in this morning with the surprising news of a our first lamb appearing. Its mum, clearly a precocious young thing of loose morals, had produced a fine healthy lamb fathered way ahead of the rest of the flock. Still, a lovely cheerful sight on a grey damp January morning.

Another bright sight was that of a single daffodil in flower standing in solitary splendour at the side of the road near the farm today.

Dotty the terrier puppy is thriving and proving to be a great entertainment to all comers until the needle-teeth attack fingers & toes then her charms are less endearing but nontheless her winning ways soon permit her liberties again.

The Farmer & I have been enduring stinking head colds for the past week but they are on the retreat now thank goodness & we are beginning to feel we can venture out to be sociable once more.

I have had the first guests for 2013 in the cottage over the weekend, a very last minute booking but a good start to the year. With few weeks without guests I will getting on with the necessary running repairs to the paintwork in the cottage and maybe making new curtains & cushion covers if I can find some suitable fabrics, just to freshen the place up a bit.

Younger Son went back up to the north of Scotland today for the next stint on the big forestry job he's involved with after a couple of days of good shooting here and in England. His poor old dog is now recovering. At 10 years old she still works hard & well on the shoots but needs several days to get over her enthusiasm.

Tuesday 1 January 2013

Sun shines for 2013, Happy New Year!

Blwyddyn Newydd Hapus! Happy New Year!

This dear little creature is the latest addition to our collection of canine companions. She is a seven week old Jack Russell terrier and as you can see is very tiny!  For all her diminutive size she is a feisty little character and has shown no fear of the labradors or anyone else for that matter. She is called Dotty for as someone said she is such a little dot of a dog! We got her from a farm about 10 miles away where she was reared in a family with her two siblings & had a lot of play and attention and so is very well socialised and has, of course over Christmas had a great deal of handling with the constant stream of family and visitors. She is of proper farm terrier stock and the hope is that she will be as good a ratter as her mother.

Christmas has been and gone and good fun it was too, if exhausting. Lots of people, lots of food, lots of conversation and lovely books...what more could one want?

One of the most charming sights over the past week has been that of the Farmer teaching the finer points of sheep-dog trialing to his small grand-daughter aged not quite 2, with her collection of toy sheep and lambs and the toy sheepdog on the dining-room table. He was moving the dog around the cluster of sheep while using all the correct whistles and corralled them into a pen of small plastic straw-bales. Small grand-daughter was was I.

A good start to the New Year in that it is not raining!!!! Having had what has seemed like constant rain for weeks it is marvellous to look out and see blue skies and glimmering pale sunshine brightening up the soggy countryside.