A winter wonderlandscape meets the eye this morning. Tiny stalagmites of starry frost stand on every fence post, on every surface. Thin sheets of ice seal the water in the troughs 'til I crack through with my boot, but with so much icy moisture in every mouthful of grass and hay, the sheep don't seem to mind. The dogs look into their trough and lick the ice forlornly. They can easily break it with their great paws, but they are slippers and pipe girls and wait for me to serve my purpose.
I look across to the pig paddock and in front of the ark is a flash of deep orange. I let out a low sound, and the fox looks at me and comes closer. And closer. And closer still. Its feet make small cracking sounds as it passes over the frosty grasses and iced puddles. It is full grown, in flourishing health, but there is something young about its features. It has a snowball tip to its tail, a recognisably large marking that I will know again if it reappears. I am about to let the ducks out into this field, and electric fence or no, I don't want a fox this close. I let Fenn through the gate to send it a message of unwelcome and it streaks off across the fields, scattering the eight month old lambs in its wake. It doesn't duck or jump under or over the stock fencing; it simply flies through the grid of wire as if it wasn't there.
I drop a few flakes of the goat mix that I feed to the llama, and spot a dark velvety vole shoot out of the log pile to take advantage. The survival instincts are on full alert today.