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What is it about the weather? Lead news item on every channel. Front page of every paper. First word on everyone’s lips. OK so it’s fucking cold and there’s a lot of snow about.

Channel 4 trumpeted that it was ‘the longest cold snap in 30 years’, advising the whole country to stay indoors and definitely don’t travel. They did this from the middle of Manchester, which is not where their office is. Every other broadcaster has followed suit – we’ve had the BBC in Leeds, reporters fighting their way into isolated Welsh hillside villages, ITV broadcasting from deserted town centres in Scotland, and gleeful accounts of people spending the night trapped in cars on the M3. One report came from a place called Stratfield Tengis. If I had my time again, I’d love to be called that. I’d definitely be a movie star. Or possibly a porn star.

Our main problem here is sorting out the animals. The pigs seem OK – and with half a ton of fat on them they should be. They’ve got several bales of straw to dive under, although they have taken to using part of their stye as a lavatory, which is unusual for pigs. I had to shovel a barrow load of frozen pig shit out yesterday. The sheep refuse to enjoy the comfort of two well appointed, straw strewn shelters in the yard complete with hay racks and melted water and insist on legging it back into a totally snow-clad field the moment they’ve fed. Not a blade of grass in sight.

The rabbits are living in the greenhouse but still try to dig their way out, and the chickens simply stay in their huts. 

The humans stay indoors too, feeling smug about the fact that we’re heated and hot watered by log so when they turn the power off – which they’re going to do next Monday, amazingly enough – we can still bath and cook. Regrettably we can’t take advantage of the exciting new boiler scrappage scheme announced by our glorious leader the other day. GB actually said ‘it’s very exciting because people can get help changing their boilers’. This is indeed very exciting. Exciting is the word we think most appropriate for this particular…excitement. It has lead to wearyingly predictable jokes round here about swapping ones’ old boiler being the best news in years. Ho bloody ho.

The snow did stop me from getting to London this week but mainly because while I might have made it, getting back looked very doubtful.

We have two dead pheasants hanging in the loggia. You can tell you’re integrated into country life when people come for drinks and bring dead animals as a gift. Sarah is planning to skin them today.

I still wrestle with my anxiety about dead animals. I don’t like shooting, I don’t like seeing animals die, and I don’t like having dead ones about. I do like eating meat. I see no contradiction in this but I’m the only one who doesn’t. Sarah is far more bloodthirsty than me, having done a lamb butchery course, and now wanting to learn to shoot with rifle and shotgun. She takes the more pragmatic view that if you’re going to eat meat you may as well get as much of it as possible for free, and kill your own. Get over it!

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