My first two days back at work have been very hectic. We had more snow on Sunday night, and it has snowed all day today. I was woken at 4am Monday because all I could hear in my half sleep was a horse banging the walls. I was so disturbed by this I woke up fully and went to investigate. Max got cast last year and I never heard a thing, so I have been very conscious of noises out there ever since.
I flicked on the light, and every horse rose to his feet (I can't apologise enough), but Lindy seemed to be struggling. I think he'd either got cast again, or he is rubbing his rug on the walls, trying to rip it off, as he is too hot, and he was certainly sweating. I swapped his rug for Max's under rug, as it's big enough to fit him (it was bought for Zak originally) as it's very thin (like Zak!). I kept the neck down. There were no more noises after that, so I think he was fine, and in the morning he felt 'right', not sweated up, but not cold either. It's worse than having kids. At least they can tell you they've got a sore throat, you can give them some Calpol and keep them off school for the day. The trouble is, we didn't clip Lindy last time he was due, because of the bad weather, then he went lame, so most of his woolly coat has grown back, and he is far too warm in a stable rug. This is a bit bizarre when it's -6 outside, but who am I to judge?
I crept back in, so as not to wake Mr O, and climbed in between the sheets, and dozed off into the most wonderful slumber, only to be woken at seven by the rooster alarm clock going off. For some reason I thought it was a Sargeant Major shouting at me, "Ten HUT! Stand by your beds!" and leapt up in horror to locate the clock and switch it off, no easy task in the dark. I was a gibbering wreck by the time I'd done it.
I am wearing wooly gloves to muck out in, as the handles of the wheelbarrow are so cold I can't carry it with bare hands. Eventually, of course, the gloves get cold and wet, and I have to take them off and find another pair. I keep scraping snow off the dustbin and the garden table, so I can put bird food out. I am worried about birds and animals dehydrating, and so I keep leaving little dishes of water around the place, but they soon freeze over. The robins (and BFMB) have been joined on the bird table by a blue tit, my favourite little bird. He looks very smart with his black collar and tie, a veritable Beau Brummel in fact, and has soon got the measure of BFMB. He sneaks up behind her, grabs a morsel and flies off again, before she even has a chance to lumber round.
Needless to say, now that everyone has gone back to work, the outside tap is frozen solid. I've had to fill water buckets from our kitchen sink and carry them through the garage to the stables. I've filled each horse's water bucket in the morning and then had to top it up again at night, so that's 36 water buckets altogether. I'm putting hay out in the field for Max, Barnaby and Zak, and making up haynets for Polo, Lindy and Fudge, who are staying in.
I nipped in to go to the loo, and as I came out, a shadow swept past my face. At first I thought it was a bat, but watched where it landed, and as it took off from my wardrobe, I realised with astonishment, it was a wren. I was momentarily flummoxed. It's not often a member of the Senior Service decides to share a bedroom with you, is it? My instinct was to try to catch it, but then I realised that if I opened the bedroom windows she would eventually fly out, which she did, being a bright girl.
I sent a text to Mr O saying, "There is wren in the bedroom." He is ex-Navy, remember. He quickly text back, "Get her to do the ironing." which is probably the cleanest comment he could think of at such short notice.
When I went back up at lunch time, there was another one. What on earth is going on? How do they get in? I hadn't even had the back door open, and had certainly not seen anything fly past me or through the kitchen or anything. Very, very peculiar.
I finished mucking Polo and Lindy out, and my next stable was due to be Fudge's, but my work was hampered because:
I decided to leave him in peace and move onto Max's stable instead.
I went out to meet Six and Nine from the bus at four o'clock. I was still standing there at twenty past. Lucy Goosie pulled up in her 4x4 and asked if I wanted her to go down and get the boys. Pongo had text me to say they would be on the bus, and no one had rung to say the situation had changed, and the next thing I knew, the school bus drew up behind Lucy Goosie's car. What a relief!
I started taking the Christmas decorations down, and blitzed the kitchen, but I have to be careful not to use up every ounce of energy on a Monday, otherwise I have nothing left for Tuesday, even if I go to bed early.
And today it has done nothing but snow. This is the first time the horses haven't wanted to go out. Correction - they wanted to go out, but as soon as they saw the weather, they wanted to come back in again.
Mr O went to work before the snow started and text me to ask what the weather was like here. I didn't know whether he meant he was going to stay in Worksop or try to come home, but they finished work at 4.30pm so people had more time to travel safely, thank goodness. Yes I want him to come home, but not at risk of his safety. But I knew if the old car could make it, this new car definitely could.
The boys went to school on the bus, but within minutes of their arrival Pongo got a text saying the school was closing. How stupid. So Pongo set off on foot to go and collect them. I am so glad he hadn't left for work, otherwise it would have been me sliding down the hill and hauling two children back up it through the snow.
It seems to have taken me forever to muck out today. I guess I've just got used to three of us doing it over Christmas. It doesn't help that the chickens are starting to prefer the stables to the barn, where their coop is, and can find loads of places to hide in the stables. I spent twenty minutes tonight trying to coax them out, sweet talk them out, bribe them out and sweep them out with a broom, all to no avail. They looked at me with their beady eyes as if to say, "You've got no chance, love." They were flying from stable to stable, as they know I can't reach them in there, until I finally resorted to rugby tactics, pinned them down one by one, scooped them up, tucked their wings in and carried them across to the coop and plopped them in. And of course, by the time I'd got the third bird over there, the first two had come back out. They were probably highly amused watching me run round like a headless chicken for a change. I was exhausted by the time I got indoors.
I am supposed to put in a Tesco order, but I've been very busy, and I seriously doubt they'll deliver in this weather. I'd better go on their website and check. The lovely girl at Stable Mates delivered the horse feed yesterday, so they'll not starve. I have powdered milk, and enough flour to keep us going with bread, so we won't go hungry either.
So while I'm typing this, Mr O has gone up to bed, and called down to me, "Do I have to share the bedroom with her, then?" and I've gone up to see a wren flying round the room again. I've realised it must be the same wren that's found a way in, but where? We don't open the windows because it's too flipping cold. Has she got a nest somewhere? She is not going to nest on my ironing pile, that's for sure.
And finally, I let Tessa out last thing at night, thinking she'll be two minutes, and she takes herself off for a little tour of the farm, which seems to be getting longer and longer each night. Our garden gate is always left open, so she strolls out in the moonlight for a while. Where does she go? What does she do? I ought to follow her tracks in the snow to find out. I suppose if you're mistress of all you survey, you can go where you like with impunity, can't you?
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