Sunday, 28 November 2010

Let it snow

I have had many occasions to smile at R's bulk-buying habits over the past couple of years, and not a few moments spent shaking my head in exasperation. Every once in a while, though, I have good reason to be thankful and feel that he is still looking after me.

This early spell of snow took me quite by surprise.
The weather forecast seemed to suggest that we were only due a light sprinkling. Well that may have been true down in the valley, but up here on my hilltop we had a proper snowfall and I really wasn't prepared for it. So my first job this morning was to rediscover the path from the house.

Fortunately R had been prepared, and I was pleased to unearth a bag of salt that he had stashed away for a moment such as this. (Buying salt had been on my "must get round to it soon" list, but I didn't expect to need it quite yet). I also found a couple of cans of windscreen deicer on a shelf which I suspect will be very useful tomorrow.

The snowfall is beautiful, but this is always a difficult time for farmers.
When the fields are white, most of the traffic on the road seems to be related to ferrying food around for sheep and cattle in one form or another.
This year was a bad one for hay and silage. It was so dry in late Spring and early Summer that the grass seemed to stop growing in the peak haying period. As a result, many farmers were only able to take a single crop from their fields, or at best a fairly meagre second crop later in the season. The price of hay seems to be nearly a third higher than it was this time last year.

For me, with my micro-flock of just 7 sheep, this isn't the end of the world. I can take the financial hit. The lamb in my freezer probably won't be cost-effective this year but I can cope with that - and it will still taste wonderful. For my friends who farm for real, having to buy in hay or silage can mean the difference between making a profit and making a loss.

My little Hebridean sheep are hardy souls. When the weather is bad they aren't too fussy about what they eat, unlike some of their more highly-bred cousins. But they do appear to have an aversion to eating food that is damp, whether that be hay or the concentrates that they also need when there is no grass. This means that I find myself taking food out to them three or four times a day in bad weather as they will simply ignore their pellets once they get wet and go soggy - even though they were tucking into them happily a couple of hours previously. Damp food means both hungry sheep and a waste of money.

As I said, this early snowfall took me by surprise, and I was down to my last bale of hay this morning. No problem, I thought. I'll take the Land Rover down to the feed store and pack it with enough hay to see me through this cold snap.

It was a great plan.
Unfortunately the Landy wouldn't start. It was turning over, but there wasn't enough charge - or it was too cold - to start.
I can just picture R, standing there with an exasperated grin on his face, wondering why on earth I didn't make sure the battery was fully charged when I learned that snow was coming.

Well I just didn't.
So it messed up my entire morning waiting for the battery to charge. At least I got my ironing done while I was waiting.


  1. ..aren't too fussy about what they eat, unlike some of their more highly-bred cousins....


  2. J - I think that a look of pride would also have crossed R's face <3

  3. OH J, to these innocent inexperienced eyes that snow looks like storybook-land! I know people was salt when it snows but what for?

    You wouldn't read about it -- I have just been pushing Tony's car because the battery is flat!

  4. From Canada here where we too have been experiencing snow but that is norm this time of year. Love the look of the sheep. Ours give the same sort of look. bewildered!

  5. @Boo: No, I'm pretty sure he would be laughing!!!

    @Rose: The salt lowers the freezing temperature of water, and so effectively melts the snow and prevents ice forming on the path.
    And I'm not laughing at your flat battery, honest (not much!)

    @Marlyn: I imagine you Canadians smiling at us getting into such a flap when a bit of snow falls. We just haven't had much practice at it over recent years. And LOL about the sheep. What sort do you have?