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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

A bit of the white stuff

We were warned about the snow. But we were told between 15 and 25 centimetres. Well, they got that wrong. The first day there was 30 centimetres but it was thawing as it was snowing. Dave cleared the paths three times during the day. Next day was the same, with extra icicles from the day before, but now we have half as much again.
Dalmation in reverse? Bracken coming in

Pristine paddock

The cornel before the snow was removed

One branch of one of the plum trees

Venka and Yordan's icicles

Around the village

The steps behind the post office

Main road, day one

We have had damage in the garden. The polytunnel couldn't cope with the weight and is now a very large cloche, completely flattened. We will have to wait for the thaw to find out if we can salvage anything. Trees have also been damaged, a huge branch from the cats' favourite apricot tree has broken off and we will have to assess it later to see if we can safely keep it. So sad, it's the centre of the garden. Also the pear tree with the little summer pears which are so good bottled has lost a large branch. It's all down to the sheer weight of the snow. There may be even more casualties as the plum across the garden and the cornel by the gate a very heavy with snow. All the chain link fences are solid white.
The odd shaped thing behind the well was the polytunnel!

Broken apricot tree

In the village people are digging to find their cars as the snow drifted over them. Many people have been without electricity for a couple of days (we've been lucky) and internet is sketchy at best. We were OK the first day but now we have none. The roads have been ploughed but with more snow coming down it hasn't really helped. Still some people have to get out, especially as there were funerals planned. And of course they need to get bread, have a coffee and chat about the weather! The chap who looks after the internet cables has been round trying to dislodge snow from them. Our's came on again but went off within half an hour, then Dave saw him going up our lane so he might have dislodged something. Amazing how lost you feel without it.

There are lots of small birds coming and going and we have set up a simple feeding station, stocking it with freshly shelled walnuts, any seed that's hanging around and the final fat treat. All hung on the washing line meaning the cats get entertainment but can't get anywhere near to catch. So far I have only seen blue and great tits on it, with chaffinch picking up the pieces underneath (cats allowing, the path is cleared so they are easily seen) The sparrows are happy with chicken feed...Charlie has been seen trying to use the ducks as a shield to get close...but the ducks are noisy and it doesn't work! We have also had a few serin about which is nice, but they aren't brave enough to raid the feeding station. Photos are a bit hazy due to them being taken through the cheap double glazing which is never quite sparkling. We have also seen a few skeins of geese flying over, hundreds of birds. They pick their moments....usually when I have no camera to hand.

Cracking walnuts for birds wild and domestic

Serin, a pretty little visitor


One thing which would suffer if the electricity goes off are the eggs in the incubator, so fingers crossed it won't go off. (It did, but not for long, about an hour)

The animals thought it was great at first. Bracken is a real outdoor boy and follows Dave around for as long as he's allowed. He and Bella got a bit playful but Bella is still wary of the big lad, having had a couple of tellings off over the years and she doesn't know why. Bonnie had to bounce through the snow to go for a pee, which is exhausting for the old girl. Day one and she had to be carried up the steps to go for a walk. It gets a bit confusing as there have to be two walks because Bracken goes on a flexi-lead so is not used to walking to heel in his place, as the girls are, and things are inclined to get a bit muddled.  Poor Dave...well he does complain he has nothing to do in this weather! But the girls don't understand why they can't go with Bracken, Bracken doesn't understand why he can't go with the girls. But I value my husband and really don't need him going head over heels!

Round three of path clearing and he still has a smile on his face

Checking the paddock.....
.....and down came a branch, just where he had been standing The goat bench was nearly covered here

After the initial horror at what was happening outside, the cats eventually braved it, Spud keeping to the chicken run and dust house, Charlie using the tracks the dogs left in the snow. He has an amazing thick and soft coat, much better protected than Spud. Both cats are watching the birds of course, easy to see in the snow, but they are safe enough for now. They do, however, need to let off steam. They are still young cats and luckily they seem to have become buddies since we started the bad weather and play for hours, using the chairs, cat flaps and any feet and legs lying about as obstacles, jumping on dogs as they pass (dogs are not happy...scary kitties!) and at night charging up and down the stairs and especially Spud. up onto chest of drawers, headboard, bedside table, whatever, but usually settling on the bed eventually, leaving Bella a nervous wreck.

United in disgust! Two very different cats

With his super thick coat Charlie soon ventured out

And came in to attack my shoes. He does this sometimes with my feet in them! Ouch.

The outside animals are complaining a bit but generally they just get on with things. The duck pond is lost again so they are keeping to the chicken house with a trough of water for washing, the Sussex are happy enough inside, the chickens are scratching around in the dust barn and the goats are quite happy munching on hay and veg all day.

So with some of the country being given warnings about strong winds and other areas declaring a state of emergency due to over full rivers, we should count ourselves lucky. We have heating .....we don't have central heating so no water pump to worry about if the electricity goes off. The heating also has an oven and we can cook on top. We have plenty of candles and a full gas bottle for the burner we use for bottling in summer. We have plenty of our own preserved food and flour for bread etc. masses of eggs and milk for our needs, plenty of animal feed and bedding etc, etc. Over the top? Maybe. But who knows what will happen in the next few days, or even weeks as the temperatures are set to plummet.
Fed up ducks

Now, the one thing I might have a problem with....a stir crazy husband, already going bonkers with little to do outside, there is only so much snow he can shift and once the animals are fed. And it's only been three days since he can't go out!
Stunning icicle from the gutter

Some of these were three feet long but they had to come down after the photo as they were starting to fall and we don't want any accidents


  1. Wow you did get snow! Hope your fruit trees survive...we lost so many trees after a huge ice storm hit in 2009. We are expecting snow tonight, but only 2 inches. What is the normal snowfall for your part of Bulgaria? Stay warm!!

    1. Yes, it's normal to get good falls of snow and it will last a good while with night time temperatures dipping down to -20 and daytime being a few degrees below freezing. But most are prepared and there was plenty of notice. The thing is, today, cold though it was, we had brilliant blue skies and sun strong enough to melt the three foot icicles and dry roads and paths which have been cleared. And it's a dry cold, unlike the damp of the UK. Of course we don't have to go to work which helps. The winters are not long though, a couple of weeks ago we were still having our midday meal outside in t-shirts.

  2. Amazing photos. I have to admit the snow looks fabulous and I suppose you can enjoy it since you do have all your 'survival supplies' ready and your alternative power solutions. But I couldn't cope with cold like that. Stay warm and safe. x

    1. Haha, you don't have to cope with it Jane, I only go outside when the sun is out and it's lovely. We have a fire permanently in so don't get cold. I used to be addicted to hot water bottles for six months of the year, but I rarely need one here.

  3. The photos make it look amazing but it must be tricky to cope with. We had our first snow this winter in the South of England a few days ago but it was a sprinkle and gone by lunch time. Our wild garden birds cost more to feed than our chickens as I refill several feeders daily. It's the price you pay though to see a great variety of wild birds and I would miss them if they didn't visit. I echo the previous comment, stay warm and safe.

    1. Thank you Carol, we will. We had a good year for walnuts last year so they are getting those at the moment, as are the chickens, to keep them warm. We will be growing more sunflowers this year...forgot to put them in last year but had plenty of self seeded to last us into autumn. We don't buy stuff for the birds as they only visit us when the weather gets really bad and we feed them whatever we have.

  4. Hi, hope you are both OK. Pretty much the same here - was minus 19 last night!! Yesterday and today are gloriously sunny. Our mad builders drove 60km through 50cm deep snow to get here yesterday in the UK we came to a standstill at 2cm!! Great blog, like Dave I am so bored already so it is nice to have something good to read. Take care both.

    1. Pete, your builders are diamonds and I am happy you found them, so many poor people get ripped off. The days are stunning aren't they? Today the air is sparkling with tiny ice crystals blowing about in a very slight breeze and catching the sunlight. I have never seen anything like it and it's hard to explain how it feels to see an ancient fairy story (hark at me!)
      Thank you for the lovely comments and I hope things continue to go well for you....not long till spring!

  5. Hi, have been a long time lurker of your blog from the beginning! we moved here a couple of months after you, not that far away really, village 20 mins from Pleven. I was fascinated when you went back to the UK that Dave came from my neck of the woods! Howletts is in the village i grew up in and my family come from! We are here with our two children 11 & 14. I would really like a garden like yours, am working on it!
    This Winter has been mild until last Sunday and this week:)
    Thanks for your story so far!

    1. Welcome Lurker S. No, you're not that far. Dave comes from the village of Chartham near Canterbury, so very near were you came from.

      No rush for your garden, it sounds as if you have your hands full. Our's is a full time occupation really, but as I've said before, one we love and never thought we would be able to do.

      It's certainly cold, -19 this morning with freezing fog! Beautiful now and jumper weather. Soon be spring!

  6. The first year we moved here and had 100 year old trees around us, I learned fast to shake branches during the storm, several times if need be, to lighten the snow load on them. In a town full of mature trees, mine were the only ones to not suffer any heavy branches breaking. It's especially helpful on smaller fruit trees that can't cope with the load unless they're already propped up. Branch shaking is a bit of a fuss but better than losing trees and crop. Something to consider.

    1. Sadly Trillium the majority of the snow was dumped in a matter of hours overnight, literally a light sprinkling when we went to bed and the catastrophic damage done to the apricot tree and the polytunnel when we got up around 3am. The other problem with the apricot and the pear is that they are very old and some rot in them.

    2. Hi Trillium, how lovely to hear from you! Great tip and one we will definitely follow if we get the chance! I did actually give the cornus a good shake, but it's probably the toughest tree in the garden. Hope all is OK with you over there in Canada this winter

  7. All is well here, and we have lots of snow - over 18 inches so far and more coming. -11C today, and nights get colder. Really enjoying your blog and adventures.

  8. Beautiful to look at but not so much un if you have to go out in it. I think that there's nothing wrong in being prepared because its just common sense. Here in England winter isn't half as bad but as another reader says everything grinds to a stop with just a little snow. I too try to grow and store as much as I can just for the sheer pleasure of eating summers blackberries on a cold winters day. Even with the snow I envy you, I'd get out a good book or my knitting, bed down and wait for the snow to melt. Good luck Kath xx

  9. Perhaps it's time for Dave to start a new painting? The photos look lovely but I'm so sorry for the loss of the tunnel and the fruit tree branches. I hope the weather doesn't get any worse. I'm lucky enough to be on holiday in Darwin, it's 33 degrees Celsius and there's a big storm rolling in. What an amazing planet we live on.

  10. We have a big stack of paintings with nowhere to put them. We can't even get what it costs to produce them so there's no incentive to do any more. Weather is supposed to pick up in a couple of days, maybe even above freezing by day. I keep consoling myself that all the nasty earth bugs will have been caught out thinking it's spring and died a cool death! I'm sure the cold will do some good.

  11. Have you tried selling via art finder ? Daves paintings are definitely worthy. It's an excellent site that people world wide use. That way you're tapping in to a world wide pool of animal lovers who click on that category.

  12. Oh poor polytunnel! Hopefully what is inside didn't get too squashed. Icicles look amazing! I love watching cats in the snow as they're so funny. I shall now go and read your next post...... :-)