On Wednesday afternoon we were hit with the Met Office red alert and it didn’t disappoint – after white-out conditions all afternoon we were soon cut off and officially snowed in. We’re used to getting plenty of the white stuff being at about 1000ft but this is the worst it’s been since moving here almost 5 years ago.
Whilst it’s knee-deep in the garden, the drifts are shoulder high in places and the wind has sculpted the most beautiful waves – it’s a completely different landscape. Sandy had to dig out the back garden so that the dogs could get out and we could get down to the hens – they’re still refusing to come out of their coop so we’re having to keep refreshing their frozen water and feed. The birds have been flocking to the garden for seed and fat balls to help sustain them during this bitterly cold period.
Today is Saturday, and after three days snowed in we’re starting to get cabin fever – thankfully a neighbour threw a little gathering last night which helped. Another neighbour has been kindly running up and down our road with his manitou clearing the worst of the snow but most of us are still unable to get out without some further digging – some will need a lot more than that however! Thank goodness we had a gas delivery at the start of the week and are always well stocked up, my only concern was losing power, like we used to regularly up until very recently when they did dome work on our system – that wouldn’t have been much fun!
Looking at social media and the news it’s been fascinating watching how volatile our food system is with city centre stores running out of milk and bread and panic buying across the whole country. We don’t have our own cow but our local milkman, although unable to reach us, was still able to deliver along the A702, another neighbour went down to collect it and distribute it around the village. We can make our own bread, and our freezer and cupboards are well stocked with produce from the garden, local farms and other suppliers as well of course from other sources like supermarkets. It makes me even more convinced that shorter supply chains and producing and preserving as much food as possible, as well as being a thoroughly enjoyable pastime, is also the way forward for us.
The snow and Siberian weather is forecast to continue for some time yet and it’s going to take a while to get back to normal but we don’t mind sitting tight and enjoying what nature is throwing at us and the incredible community spirit that these situations always brings out.
With the constant snow on the ground and freezing temperatures we’ve been well behind this year in terms of our garden planning. I’ve been out for a wander around a few times seeking inspiration but with everything frozen I’ve just not been finding it – most unusual.
Thankfully this all changed yesterday when we had to take a trip to Dobbies to purchase a bird table, an 80th birthday present for Sandy’s father. We were soon happily browsing the seed potatoes and the bulbs section and I started to get that familiar buzz of excitement that usually comes when we’re planning what we’re going to do in the coming year – phew!
It’s still too early for us to make purchases – we learned that last year and instead of ending up with a conservatory full of seedlings getting scorched we’ll be investing in some temporary greenhouses that can be opened up to the elements on good days but protected through the nights – we can still get frosts until May so need to learn to hold our horses a little. Maybe this year, we’ll actually get it right!
There was also a stunning cactus (Euphorbia Marmorata), part of an amazing display there but at £90 I resisted (for now), although I do think it would make a great addition to the other cacti and succulents we already have in the conservatory…
The garden seems to have been under snow for most of the past few weeks and Spring still feels a long way away. With more of the white stuff due over the coming days and itchy fingers I decided to do something more constructive and start keeping a note of some of the feathered visitors we have to the garden and I’ve created a new gallery page to log them.
As well as the more common garden birds like sparrows and robins we also see more interesting species like woodpeckers, bullfinches and swallows. The migrating geese fly overhead in huge skeins each year and we often get pheasants and partridges hiding away from the nearby shoot. We have nesting starlings in the corner of the roof each year and occasionally get coal tits nesting in the bird box – one year we were lucky enough to see the baby fledging, which was a real joy as it bumbled it’s way around the garden as mum and dad chattered around it. We regularly hear owls but of course rarely see them, unless on a well moonlit dog walk. One time Sandy saw a sparrow hawk shoot down to the bird table and take out it’s prey – a bit of a surprise, and not something either of us has seen since.
They’re always a joy to see and hear and I’m hoping to learn more about the birds that visit our garden by keeping this log. I’ve got an identification book by the back door to help me with this endeavour as I’m sure there must be plenty that I don’t know just now.
Introducing Blue, our new cocker spaniel puppy and nephew to Cosmo.
He’s a wee adventurous soul who loves nothing better than scampering around in the garden, which he is currently accessing through the cat flap.
Cosmo and Blue have become the best of friends and the cats don’t even seem to mind him noising them up. It’s just the hens that are really keeping him in his place with the odd peck when he gets too close.
They’re all especially enjoying the snow!
It’s been a busy start to the year but the seed catalogues have all arrived so will no doubt be settling myself down to start my 2018 garden planning soon.