Sue Woodcock: Frozen pipes and giant icicles as weather strengthens its grip

My gate was blocked by a huge snow drift and I could have done without the fatuous comments of passing walkers who thought it was highly amusing to see me shovelling snow. The local bobby, a friend of mine, turned up to see if I was okay and we finished clearing the gate together in no time and it meant that I could get the car and I was mobile again.

The roads have been really dangerous. In the winter sunshine a daytime thaw covers them with water, which freezes solid the moment the temperature plummets in the evening. The local authority have done a great job on the major roads. I have wimped out several times this week, concentrating on keeping warm and just doing the necessary chores.

McWoof rushes out first thing in the morning and rounds the sheep up into the barn whether I want them there or not. It is quite handy because I was able to catch a Jacob ewe and trim her horns out to stop them growing into her face. I managed to do a few sheep feet as well.

The sheep are eating hay at an impressive rate but I did lose an old goat who had been failing for some time. The sheep huddle in the barn at night and my wonderful feed merchants managed to get a new delivery of hay, straw and food for the animals.

For the village's first Dickensian Saturday people came from near and far but because of the weather numbers were well down on what we had hoped for. You can tell there's a recession on as there was a reluctance to spend. It was a long and hard day. I helped sort out a gazebo and tables and we arranged our knitwear but then down came the snow. Hopefully next week there will be more customers. Grassington really comes alive – hog roasts, roast chestnuts, hot chocolate with marshmallows, not to mention ostrich burgers and cakes as well as a variety of charity stalls and clothing. The local mummers put on a splendid show. A lot of visitors were amazed at the size of the icicles hanging off buildings and took photographs. They were nothing compared to the ones on my barn.

Just as the sun was setting I was out with the dogs on the fields, warmly clad and appreciating the fantastic clarity of the air and the stunning views of snow-clad hills. The dogs were far more interested in the scent of a rabbit. As the sun went down the snow was a delicate rose pink as it reflected the sunset. All over the fields are the tracks of animals and birds. I learned quite a lot of what is around by examining these little paths. I may have a badger in the vicinity. I have not really ventured into the mire as the snow is deep there and the underlying ground very soggy.

If I do go outside I make sure I have my phone with me as an accident could be serious in an exposed location at a thousand feet above sea level. I am a lot colder than those in the valley and my water pipes in my well to the house have frozen so I cannot access too much hot water. A friend has kindly given me a ski suit, which is most welcome, as she can no longer get into it. I bought a small sledge – most useful dragging things to and from the gate.

At least I can see Boo in the snow. She is growing rapidly and becoming a loving but naughty labrador. Brillo likes the snow for a short while and then slinks inside to warm up. My other collie, Froyle, goes out only under protest and then legs it back to lie in front of the fire and Fair even condescends to come in when called and snuggles by the Rayburn.

I found a collection of knitting items behind the sofa where the two younger dogs had secreted them. There are plenty of dog toys around but for some reason a ball of wool is much more fun!

CW 11/12/10

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