Something resembling a Creuse hiver has settled over us and we’re in full winter mode. We’re living in the aptly named living room, the one room we keep warm all day. We make quick dashes to the cold kitchen to make meals to bring back, and we get dressed and undressed there in front of the fire either after emerging from or before retiring to the chillier bedrooms. Outside chores are kept to a minimum although we’ll wrap up and have a daily walk, usually fairly short though. And we do a lot of wood lugging. Well, Chris does since my dodgy shoulder has got me out of heavy duties for the time being.
It’s the first cold spell our pigs have ever seen and they’re not impressed. They can’t root for food, for one thing, or have a good muddy wallow, and they slip and slide on the ice. Oberon, Rosamunde and Portia generally exude an air of contentment but not at the moment. They are definitely on the miserable side. And they’re also unnaturally clean!
Pigs are hardy animals but you need to keep them dry when it’s very cold. A combination of wet bedding and freezing temperatures can bring on pneumonia. Annoyingly Oberon has contined to try and dismantle his cosy shelter whenever he can, and Rosie appears to be egging him on. Chris had put an old door across the back to keep the north wind off them but almost every morning he discovers that Obie has knocked it away. Actually, more than knocked: he’s clearly stuck his head under and heaved with all its might. It’s travelled quite far on a few occasions. Portia is behaving much better in her horsebox. She has a curtain across the door to keep her warm and she seems to like that. It was a pretty red one to celebrate her girliness, but it very quickly became mud coloured!
The sheep don’t seem to notice the cold particularly, but are hanging around their stable and hay bale a bit more.
The chickens simply fluff out their feathers and get on with things.
The llamas and alpacas have voluntarily taken up residence pretty much permanently in the hay hangar. They’re getting through gallons of water now that they’re on a dry diet, and of course the outside tap has frozen up so we’re tramping to and from the bathroom with buckets and watering cans. The camelids potter out occasionally for a leg stretch, the tough alpacas more than the soft llamas, but they’re generally being impressively sensible for once and keeping warm.
The cats make a rush for the door every morning when it opens at 7.25 a.m. as we leave to walk Rors up the track to wait for the school bus. We have to let the young cats in otherwise they follow us and try to get themselves run over by Murielle, the bus driver. But once they’re in, it’s not that easy to get them out. They fling themselves as close to the fire as possible and keep a very low profile in the hope we’ll forget about them and let them stay. We do – for a while, at least.
Lastly the guinea pigs are snug and warm in the hay-filled cage which is inside one of the stables.
So, we’re all hunkering down and keeping cosy … but really looking forward to spring!
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