The short daylight hours see me trying to cram in daft amounts of activity. All the usual farm and work stuff, plus holiday cover farm-sitting for the neighbour's twenty something pigs, fifty something sheep, hundred and fifty plus rare breed chickens, geese, ducks, cats and dog. Everything takes much longer than usual as the water supplies both here and over the road are frozen first thing and by the time they start contemplating defrost mode to allow a mere trickle of the pure stuff, the temperature drops like a stone as the light fades and we are back to solid hosepipe.
But Bernese Mountain Dogs thrive in this dry cold weather; they are made for snow and seem to inhale energy as the thermometer plummets. They give me the Bernese nudge, an insistent and forceful snout thrust, and I put on a second pair of trousers and socks, not having been naturally endowed with a fur coat. Most of the sheep kept on the farm have been taken off the land so it can rest for a couple of months, so I don't even take a lead with me as we head out onto empty fields. But the fields are clearly not empty. The dogs stick their noses into every conceivable size of hole in the ground, up trees, in the earth banks, behind troughs, under leaves. For them, the farm is thrutched up with animal life, scent flags waving for those with the sense to appreciate.
The rush and push of the day drops off the shoulders and I stand and admire the scene, grateful to be here, now.