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It is 8 degrees below at Swallowtail Hill. There is six inches of frozen snow on the ground. I no longer care what I look like, although I suspect I look fairly sporty in woolly cap, lined moleskin trousers,  waterproof chainsaw boots, long white over-socks, a filthy padded jacket and fleecy gloves. If only people knew what was underneath – long-johns, T shirt, jumper, fur lined waistcoat, jeans,and another pair of socks.

Sarah has put on a lot of weight – or it looks like it – as she wades between animal pens bulked out in pretty much the same outfit, carrying buckets of warm water for the freezing beasts. Both of us smell – the bathroom is too cold for washing, and we wear most of our clothes in bed. Well, I smell. Sarah is of course fragrant. But since we spend most of the day outside who cares what we smell like? You can’t smell anything without freezing your nostrils anyway.

Sylvia and Mildred have moved into the house. They are our two elderly bantams. Tiny and about 110 in humay years, they need residential care or they’ll simply freeze to death. So they are parked in the hall outside the shower room, with a fire-guard to stop the dogs from getting too interested. After two days, they got used to it, and now wander around quite happily – we found them perching on the bookshelf yesterday, but I’m not sure they were reading anything. They have to be the luckiest bantams in the world. Seven years old, long since stopped laying, and living with central heating. Next to them is Tonka’s hibernation box. He’s due to be woken up now, but what’s the point in this weather?  I thought briefly that Sarah would suggest the pigs and goats came in too, but I’m not sure where we’d put them. I suppose the pigs could lie in front of the kitchen fire, and the goats could jump about on the furniture.

It takes double the amount of time to feed and water everyone in this weather – it seems that as soon as we’ve finished the morning rounds that it’s time start serving dinner – barely worth taking our wellies off in-between.  How anyone manages in Lapland is beyond me – I expect they use a team of dogs pulling sleds laden with feed and water supplies to farm animals living in distant fields.  Don’t tell Sarah – she’ll either a) instantly go on online to see where she can get a  team of dogs and a sled or (more likely) ask me to build her a sled (now!) and spend the day training Dottie and Mabel to pull it.   One thing I can be certain of – I’m sure the Laplanders don’t invite the reindeer indoors as soon as they look a bit chilly!

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