For me this is a time to turn the collar up, get outside as much as possible during the daylight hours, and cosset the alpacas a bit. They don’t mind the cold as such, but they do miss the sun.
On the plus side, it always feels good in the evening with the wood stove burning and the doors shut against the wind and rain. This year we have a good wood supply, so we’re not having to be quite so frugal. It is amazing how my attutude to fuel has changed now that I create it myself, rather than just swap it for some money!
Another treat is dog walking in the dark. Whilst the alpaca stuff has to happen in the daylight (precariously juggled with my desk job), taking Gwen out doesn’t. Heading off to the wood in the dark is always a joy, and after four years still has a sense of adventure about it. What will we find?
The other night I had an electrifying few moments with a fox, who seemed oblivious to my headlight and my very presence as it caught its breath while trying to evade my over-excited dog! The fox just sat there, a few feet from me, senses completely focussed on Gwen’s trampling about some way away. As Gwen came nearer she turned and vanished in the trees. I’d never been that close for so long to a wild fox before.
On moonlit nights when no torch is necessary the wood is a magical place with the moon shining down through the bare trees. Tempered a little this year by concern – most of our trees are ash, and dieback has already been found in the Carmarthen area …
And then we come out of the wood to the top of the field. There is a bench that my dad made from some old timber from the bell tower of St Peters church in Wisbech. When I’m sitting there, wrapped up warm, looking across Cwm Cynon to the other farms with lights twinkling, or looking up to the Milky Way and the constellations on either side, I can really appreciate the quite dark introspective beauty of winter.
As a child I would dread winter – it seemed to go on for ever and the prevailing memory is of the harsh fenland winds. As an adult, time flies so fast I know that soon we will be through the dark bit, the nights will start drawing out and spring will be here again.