Snowday

Snow swept in this morning. Not the predicted killer blizzards but rather a light dusting. It lies on top of the frozen ground for a bit and then blows away into small drifts which look like burst beanbags. A bit of an anti-climax after all the dramatic warnings and stockpiling of food. IMG_3557

The pond has an impressive covering of ice – now and again you can see one of the fish moving around slowly in the freezing water. Not quite thick enough for dancing on ice.IMG_3561

There may be more snow on the way and in between flurries there will be opportunities to prepare for tomorrow’s delivery. In the meanwhile its an indoors day; Netflix and chill.

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So, so cold

The sun is out, the sky is blue – and it’s freezing. Looks like the forecasters got it right this time; a bitterly cold wind (Russian, allegedly) blowing from the east makes it really unpleasant to be outside for any length of time, even with full fat hat scarf gloves and multiple layers. In all this cold the Cornus mas is flowering for the first time, which I found very exciting. IMG_3547

The temperature inside the poly tunnel dropped below -4 last night, and the forecast is for even colder during the week. Hedgerow delivery day (next Tuesday) is forecast to be -2 during the day with snow, dropping to -5 at night. The coldest February in years. The hedgerow plants will have to be stored on some damp compost in the stables until the ground thaws enough to plant them out.

All the new seedlings have been brought indoors, the echiums have been wrapped in fleece, the birds have been given extra fatballs. Now all we can do is hope for minimal damage. I will mostly be fireside until slightly milder weather returns. IMG_0045

The calm before

Works on the railway embankment completed this afternoon. Five weeks of lorries, equipment and people crossing the damp field has made a quite a mark. Arriving every day at 7 and working through until 5, the workers endured snow, hail and freezing rain – usually ending work completely covered in mud. Now that they’re gone a calm quiet has descended on Snakesbury. The sun made a spectacular late afternoon appearance and a very early skylark sang its heart out up in the cold blue sky. IMG_3528

Weather forecasts seem to be  – at best – guesswork. Somebody’s computer somewhere has forecast that Siberian winds will sweep in next week bringing 7cm of snow. It does seem quietly colder. The calm before the ice storm. Winter afternoon sun low in the sky makes for great photos – here’s some of them. IMG_3543

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Lizards and sunshine

Today we started preparing the ground for the imminent arrival of 1400 hedgerow plants which will be delivered next week. Glorious sun, blue skies and completely calm; a complete turn-around from the last few days.IMG_3515Clearing is a multi-stage project; first is the removal of bits of wood metal and corrugated iron, then its strimming, then raking away the strimmed remains, then mowing with a close blade to get as much of the grass and weeds out as possible. Its a long process, but on day like today enjoyable and rewarding. At sundown we had completed about a third of the area – luckily I will be able to do more during the week. IMG_3517Lifting some bits of metal I disturbed 4 lizards in their cozy winter hibernation home. They were completely drowsy in the bright light so we quickly relocated them to another part of the garden for the rest of winter. I’m really excited to see them here – lizards in England! IMG_3512The warmth of the sun today transitioned very quickly; sunset brought cold air which flowed down the field and chased us indoors to a warm fire. I hope the lizards will make it though this cold.IMG_3516

Weather watch

February days change so quickly; today we had the full range. Weather watching is an enjoyable Sunday sport. Here’s some of what I saw:

Hazel trees with dangling catkins looking striking against the cold blue sky. IMG_3448.jpg

Silver birch mothership trees are combed by the wind.IMG_3493

Dark clouds highlight the whiteness of Himalayan birch, backdropped by the classic Kentish scene of ancient church and oasthouses.IMG_3487

The sun emerging after a dramatic 10 minute hailstorm.IMG_3428

Three blokes in a field, about to get soaked by a passing shower.IMG_3495 (1).jpg

Freezing February

The February freeze, a stark reminder that winter is not yet over. Snow, sleet and bitter cold make it uncomfortable to be outside, even in the weak sunshine. The ground is frozen and hard, growth of early bulbs suspended. A time for being indoors, under glass or in front of a fire lit at sunset. The alpines wear the cold well, looking completely at home in snow and ice.

A new hedgerow

Very pleased to receive confirmation of arrangements for our new hedgerow earlier today. This will be subsidised by the Woodland Trust as part of their ‘MOREHedges‘ scheme. A total length of 253m, the hedgerow will be planted along the side and then right across the top of the field. The plan is (once established) to keep it trimmed to around 8ft, with bigger trees growing through around every 25m. The plants are a mixture of blackthorn, hawthorn, dog rose, dogwood, hazel, crab apple, field maple, oak and rowan – aka a ‘traditional native mix hedgerow’. There’s about 1300 plants to go in, each with a rabbit guard and a stake. The area will need to be prepared by strimming,  removing large weeds, filling in various holes and moving the skeleton of an ancient poly tunnel. The pics below show the wire fence as it is now; the new hedgerow will be planted along the entire length of this fence.

 

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The primary aim of planting this hedgerow is to encourage wildlife into and through the area. It will also provide a buffer against wind and create an additional barrier for when we eventually get a dog (dogs)..