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.