We’ve been on vigilance orange (amber alert) for froid (cold) all day today in Creuse, and it’s set to continue and get worse, at least overnight. So we’re taking some special measures around the farm to cope with the extreme conditions.

First up, we’ve brought the generator indoors so it’s handy if things go black. We’ve lost the power before during bad weather, many times, so we’re being prepared.

I must be spending at least an hour a day just filling up water buckets with hot water for the animals as the current supply either freezes or is drained by thirsty animals. They’re all indoors eating hay and that makes them drink more than normal. When they’re eating grass, llamas go for days without needing water. The watering cans are staying in the kitchen between uses to keep them warm. Relatively speaking, that is. It’s been around 8 degrees C in the kitchen today, and that’s with the radiator on. Putting French windows in the northern end of the room wasn’t our best idea!

All the animals are either in or have access to shelter. It’s a bit crowded in the corner stable where Denis the llama and Maisy the goat have been temporarily joined by Dude and Dudette (aka Cuppucine and Zebulon, the two small alpine goats we inherited for reasons that still escape me!) D and D drive us insane since they’re typical goats and a right pain, but we haven’t been driven to turning them into curry yet!

A bit crowded but cosy

White Bun is looking after herself just fine. She spends most of her time in the hay barn but comes to nibble grass every now and again. The guinea pigs moved into the barn a while ago and are keeping cosy in there.

The cats spend a lot of time trying to get into the house and generally being rebuffed, unless they look really pathetic, but for the most part they curl up in one of the stables in the hay. The chickens and turkeys refuse point blank to come out of their stable any more, so I keep them topped up with straw, grain and water. Even the sheep are staying in their shelter, despite their mega thick woolly coats.

So all the animals are warm and coping well. As for us, we’re keeping the fire stoked up and wearing a lot more clothes than normal. Gloves, scarfs and socks get wet regularly since we’re sloshing so much water ar0und, and trudging through deep snow, so there’s always some drying in front of the fire.

And we’re eating a lot of pumpkin soup! The grand froid isn’t getting us down. (Well, maybe just a little since we have some frozen pipes …)