Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Ice Age

Like most of the UK, we are currently enduring the most extreme snowy weather for decades.

It began on 21st December, when we awoke to find that heavy snow had fallen during the night. Temperatures had been below freezing for about a week beforehand, so the snow was slow in melting. The driveway here is steep, and leads out to a steep downhill slope, which made it impossible to use the car for a couple of days. However, by the afternoon of 23rd December, enough tarmac was visible for me to try driving into the village. The journey was a little hair raising on the way down, but the journey back was much worse. Although I was only gone for just over an hour, thick snow had begun to fall by the time I returned, and the car wheels spun uselessly as I attempted to get back to Halfway Up A Hill. Cursing my luck and coaxing the car, somehow I made it to the drive entrance, where I was only able to manoeuvre the car in through the gates and safely home with the help of my neighbour and IB, who was waiting anxiously at home for me.

Over the next couple of days, the snow fell, melted a little, re-froze into thick black ice, more snow fell, and repeated the cycle. By Christmas morning, the road to the house was completely impassable by car, and we feared we'd miss the family Christmas happening just a few miles away at my parents' new home. It was eventually arranged that if we could hike out on foot to the main road, Dad would come and pick us up. After making provisions for the animals, we quickly packed some goodies for an overnight stay, and stuffed them and the Christmas presents into two rucksacks. Dressed warmly in our Christmas finery with thick woolly jumpers, coats, scarves and boots, we slid gingerly down the hill where we were very relieved to find Dad waiting for us in a warm car.
Christmas was lovely, we had a wonderful time with Mum, Dad, and my brother, sister-in-law and nephew eating, drinking, laughing and of course watching the first instalment of the much anticipated Dr Who special! The next day, Dad drove us home. Overnight it had rained, and although there was still a lot of ice around, within a couple of days we were able to get the car out and stock up on much needed supplies for ourselves and the critters. We were also lucky enough to get a delivery of heating oil because on New Year's Day, the snow began falling again.
The day had been sunny and clear - although bitterly cold - and we were planning to drive over to Mum and Dad's again just after lunch to see my brother, sister and brother-in-law who were all visiting for New Year. Unfortunately - or perhaps fortunately - one of the chickens (Blanche, who is now quite advanced in chicken years) was looking unwell*, and with the weather being so bitter we decided to leave our departure until after sundown to ensure she was safely tucked up in the hen house for the night. This proved to be our salvation, as just before the sun set the snow began falling heavily. We waited to see if it would ease off, but it continued to fall and in the end we decided not to risk getting stranded.

It was a wise decision. Heavy snow once again blanketed the area, and the car was again stranded on the driveway. I hoped that at some stage we would be able to escape our icy prison and see my siblings, but it proved impossible - and this time Mum and Dad's house was as cut off as ours.

On Monday 4th January, I was due back at work (I currently have 2 part time jobs) and I managed to hike down the hill to catch a bus, this time with the aid of a torch as it was before dawn - yikes! However, it was soon clear that the weather was a severe handicap to business as usual, and I was sent home early from both jobs. Since then, we have had about 6-8" more snow (it snowed all day yesterday) and my place of work has been closed due to the weather.

It is nice not to have to go to work, and the snow looks so pretty. But I am more than tired now of our enforced isolation. The snow is now so deep - with thick, treacherous ice concealed beneath - that even going for a walk is out of the question. Just feeding the chickens is becoming an extreme sport! It is true to say that the novelty of this weather has well and truly worn off for me! And as yet there is no thaw in sight. Luckily we have plenty of provisions and the house is warm. In the meantime, I'm praying for a rise in temperature outside.

* For those worried about Blanche, rest assured that she is currently nestled cosily in a cardboard box next to a radiator in the house and is showing signs of improvement.


DragonFly said...

As ever a delight to read...and with a brilliant sense of humour...I esp liked the bit of it being an extreme sport going down to feed the chickens...I can imagine that given the time I went flying and the conditions were nothing like they are this year!

Pagangracecat said...

Oh get well soon Blanche. It's bad here weather wise but not as bad as you have things there.

cynthia said...

Oh, Moonroot, i can so relate. We don't get snow or below freezing temps very often. When we do, it is fascinating for awhile, then chaos begins to rear it's head, followed by "enough already!"
The chickens get tired of sleeping with a warming light and begin to act in funny ways.
my tendency to turn into a mother hen really kicks in and i start worrying excessively about my girls. And then i bake.
BTW, i appreciate the hot mash idea you posted last year. my girls love it, especially in the cold.
Healthy vibes for Blanche!

Sara said...

It's been a beautiful Winter Wonderland here, especially when the sun has shone on the snow today. It has revealed the prettiest snow crytals. But it's much hard work to keep the chooks, ducks & geese snug, fed & watered. Light & dark. Hey ho! Hope Blanche makes a full recovery. Stay safe xx

Clare said...

I have to admit, somewhat reluctantly, that I am now offically fed up of the snow! Living in the North East at the foot of the Pennines, the snow here, looks like it's a premenant fixture. Hope you are keeping warm.