Saturday, 18 December 2010

Let it snow

Another couple of inches of snow fell overnight. We had a shoot day to run today, in spite of the weather. I love the low winter sun and fresh blanket of snow. It's ever quieter than normal while I take care of morning chores. Our little cottage looks like a Christmas card with snow on the roof and smoke coming out of the chimney.

The chickens aren't normally impressed with the snow. Some of them brave the conditions for a morning feed of wheat. The frizzle cockerel leads his troops. We've named him Lloyd Dobbler.

The dogs are big fans of snow. They were keen to get working this morning. They're packed into the back of the truck, waiting for the first drive to start.

We have all shapes and sizes in there - spaniels, retrievers, mongrels and halfbreeds. We even have a couple of the rarer working breeds. In case you've never seen one before, I took a picture of Foyle. Foyle is a working clumber spaniel -

Clumber spaniels fell out of favor as a working dog but became a hit in the show ring.  Working clumbers are far less common than their show relatives, and Foyle is a good example of the original working breed. He's heavy-set but steady, and well-trained by his owners.

It was only a very small team of workers today. The treacherous roads kept many at home. We managed well because, really, it's the dogs that do all the work, and we had a truckful of those.

I brought three from our kennel.

The dogs had some difficult terrain to cope with today. The snow-covered woods, bramble patches and fallen bracken make deep, almost impenetrable covert for pheasants to hide in. Almost, but not quite. Nothing is safe from a determined spaniel.

There are six dogs buried in this covert -

I can't see them either but I know they're there because the bushes are moving. At regular intervals one or another dog returns carrying a bird. We picked up 15 pheasants out of this wooded valley.

By "we", I mean them.

The guns enjoyed their day and the fantastic scenery courtesy of Jack Frost. We enjoyed our day too - dogs and workers. The dogs retired to their kennel, under the heat lamp, and I warmed up some leftover duck confit and goose fat to put with their kibble. A treat and a gesture of appreciation.

It was late by the time I got hay and feed to the horses and sheep. I fed them and checked on them by moonlight. Walking out to check the fences, I could see the trails of fox prints criss-crossing Milkweed, mingling with sheep hoof prints. It was silent. I could see the lights from a quad bike across the valley, probably our neighbor Kevin checking on his dairy cattle. I wasn't in a rush to get home, but I had a roast that needed to go in the oven if we wanted to eat before midnight.

The roast is cooking, the chickens are shut in, all the livestock is fed and watered, and I checked on my little canine workers. They're all four sharing one bed, sleeping off the excitement of the day. Tomorrow is a day off for all of us, but there's another shoot day on Monday. The dogs will be rested and ready to go by then, even if I'm not.


Kate said...

I know how hard you work, Jennifer, so I wouldn't dare utter the words "charmed life." But dang! does it look pretty in your part of the world right now. We're still waiting on some nice snow here. I just hope it waits until we've picked up our Christmas roast, then it can snow until January. Cause the New Year's roast is going to be homegrown turkey. ;) You and your pups have earned your kibble. Enjoy it.

Frogdancer said...

Sounds like a lovely day!

Ever tried working with Cavaliers?

Paula said...

Looks and sounds idyllic. Especially the happy dogs part.

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous snow! I appreciate days where the dog is thrilled and the scenery is beautiful. Looks like your troupe had a blast.

Sara said...

The house does look like a Christmas card! I miss the snow, glad you got to see and enjoy some this year. Did I tell you we're moving to San Antonio, TX for several years? No snow there. Ha ha! Hope you get a couple days rest over the holiday.

PS: I was terrible with getting out cards this year, but do want to wish you and Mike a Happy Christmas! So...Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, chica! Miss you!

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

I love your life.

Jennifer Montero said...

Kate - We're supposed to pick up our Christmas goose tomorrow too, and we've just had more snow dumped on us. We'll both be digging through the freezer for Christmas dinner otherwise.

Frogdancer - I've never seen working cavaliers, except in a magazine where a man taught a small pack of cavvies to be ratting dogs. They are such a sweet natured little companion though.

Paula - The dogs are always happy. They're easy to please.

Simplesavvy - The dogs get extra excited about the snow. They don't seem to suffer the effects of the cold, or the iceballs that build up on their fur.

Sara - Texas?!? Well, you'll HAVE to get a gun now. San Antonio looks to be a pretty progressive and artsy area. I bet you'll both be happy there. ANd you'll be fluent in Spanglish.

Cards-schmards. I know you love me. Te deseamos una feliz Navidad tambien. X

Jennifer Montero said...

DHimC - It looks nice, but what I wouldn't give for convenience some days! And heat in the bathroom (it's so cold the shampoo is congealing)

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

Oh I understand. No one's life is as perfect as it looks on a blog - we get to edit out all the yucky, dirty, unpleasant aspects! I just want you to know, you're doing an awesome job of making your life LOOK very appealing! But yes, heat in the bathroom is pretty nice, and I'll think of you tomorrow morning as I flip on the heat switch before stepping in the shower! :) (If it's any consolation, my laundry soap is congealed and slushy in the laundry room - it's so cold out there that I might as well be slapping my dirty clothes on rocks down at the river)

Julian Schmechel said...

Ah, so you finally got some snow! The blessed stuff is still piling down here, and sadly disrupting pre-Christams shoots.

It's not just difficult to get beaters out into position; picking up is nigh impossible too.

Out with the dogs on Saturday, who worked hard at -13 C all day. Hazel was totally frosted, and Rowan the lab completed grey!

Monty has icicles on his feathers, which I Pig oiled this morning. The P.O. ought to remedy any ice build up.

Heavy snow forecast for Wednesday, which may spoil a big driven day arranged for this coming Saturday. It's very frustrating, but what can one do?

Your photos are very Hardy-esque Jen. Infact, I half expected to see Gabriel Oak amongst the beaters!


Julian & Emma.

Karen Thomason/Gordon Setter Crossing said...

Jennifer, You have a way of putting a melody in your work, when you write, if you know what I mean. NICE.