After weeks of moaning about the incessant rain, this week brought something new for us all to grumble about.
In the space of just a couple of days, the temperature dropped, the heavens opened and we must have had, ooh, about two inches of the white stuff. Us Brits LOVE the drama of a good weather story, so instantly TV presenters were gushing on about ‘The Beast from the East’ and spreading doom and gloom about the impending cold snap. Facebook suddenly turned into a weather channel, with all and sundry posting snowy scenes, just for the benefit of those of us who may not have windows of our own. We had a running update on how skiddy the paths were and success stories of people braving the school run… and getting back alive.
Others were sagely advising us to take care and not to go out unless it was completely necessary: “It’s like an ICE RINK out there!” For goodness’ sake, Twitter even developed a hashtag-snow!
Even the chickens weren’t that keen on the stuff – and they’re supposed to be hardy farm animals. I love to see the girls free ranging in the garden, but can’t let them out during the summer, because basically they’d poo everywhere and either dig up or eat all my meagre attempts at self-sufficiency. So in the winter months I like to let them out to have a grub around; with any luck they’ll sniff out and eat any slug or snail eggs in the process.
Yesterday, I popped off down the garden and opened the coop door with a flourish. Taking a tentative look outside, they didn’t know what to make of the snow. Eventually they ventured out, and cautiously came out onto the lawn. A little later in the afternoon, I glanced out of the window and they were nowhere to be seen. All three of the girls had disappeared into thin air. Donning my wellies, I trudged off down the path to make sure they were all OK, and found them looking decidedly miserable, perching in the coop. At three in the afternoon, they’d had enough of the weather, and had taken themselves off to bed for an early night.
The first job of this morning was to make sure they had access to water and not ice, so I whizzed down with a clean, full water container. At the sight of me, Winnie, Maud and Mildred got slightly excited at the prospect of a fresh drink and freedom. Sliding back the bolt, I tugged on the handle of the coop door. Slight problem afoot – the door was frozen shut. Luckily the little door to the nest boxes wasn’t, so I left this open for them to hop out, and left the water container just outside.
Sure enough, half an hour passed and they had figured out their alternative exit, and all three of them came trotting up the garden, noticeably happier than yesterday. It wasn’t quite ‘Dancing on Ice’ but they certainly weren’t eyeing it with the suspicion of yesterday. They made a beeline for a sunny spot on the patio, and there they have been ever since, basking and preening. When it starts to get dark I’ll pop down to the coop to make sure they all made it back safely.
After all, the paths are treacherously slippery at this time of year…