6am and I push sleepily into the bathroom. Through the windows I can see it's soot black outside. Mind on the warmth of bed my head jerks up as I hear, distinctly, "left, right, left" being bellowed from somewhere close by. My ears strain to catch other sounds, but I can't hear any marching, trudging or even creeping.
My thoughts whirr - too much Survivors - as I imagine the farm is under siege, that the army manoeuvres on Dartmoor have gone further off the moor than usual, or that some militarily trained burglars have decided to try their luck.
Feeble, and more pressingly, cold, I leap back under the duvet, listening hard. No matter how cold it is, the window is always ajar at night, but I can't hear a thing. Half an hour later the dawn chorus gets rolling, cockerels first, then the wild life. There it is again, "left, right, left, right", only, it's not a drill sergeant, but a corvid of some kind. I wonder if it's the same crow that imitates a mobile phone?
My turn to do the animals again this morning, and it's colder than ever. I'm wearing double layer fleece gloves, so thick that my fingers are kept stretched apart. When I open one of the metal field gates my glove sticks so firmly to the latch that I have to take my hand out of the glove and tear it off, leaving a line of the beige nap behind. I walk back from the sheep and there is the welcome of the smoke from the chimney, just visible in the photo.