Life in the UK has recently been brought to a standstill by the revelation that we on this Northern European island have had some snow fall on us. It was admittedly something of a shock for us ex-Londoners to see just how deep snow falls out in the rural countryside and we woke yesterday to find a good foot carpeting our smallholding. It made for a marvellously fun snow day. With the baby in a sling, and our toddler charging ahead at full speed, we headed outside into -3 degrees to enjoy a morning building snow cats (we, like the ancient Egyptians, flatter our felines with effigies in various mediums) and playing snowball fights.
As well as this, our six chickens have gone on strike, refusing to run around their free range paddock but instead huddling together in their tiny enclosure out of the snow and scolding us for the delay when we let them out in the morning armed (I kid you not) with a kettle that we use to thaw the water in their drinking hopper.
Seeing the chickens refuse to go far from their house but instead putting themselves to bed early every day because of the intense cold made us think of wild birds. We were thrilled to see a pair of lesser spotted woodpeckers playing together in our trees yesterday and so today we decided to give the wild birds a bit of a hand (or claw!) in the cold weather. My in laws very kindly gave us a lovely bird bath as a house warming present when we bought our little smallholding last year and thus far it’s been sitting in front of the kitchen window and mainly used by the dog when she fancies a drink.
So we poured a kettle of hot water on it to provide the wild birds with drinking water and after a couple of hours of rolling about in the snow, we retreated to the kitchen with our boys to warm up with some hot chocolate and to make some homemade bird feeders with suet and bird seed and raisins. I’ve made them before with our oldest son and they’re a lovely craft activity to do together and it really gets children bought into bird watching if they’ve provided the birds with the goodies they’re enjoying. We then hung them outside where birds have already been pouring in to perch on them and peck away. We’ve hung some in various trees in the back garden, and a few in the front too and our oldest son has spent a sizeable amount of today gleefully shouting to us every time we get an avian diner perching on one of the hanging treats.
We really need to make a start on our larger-scale wildlife feeding, and part of that is to set up permanent feeders soon. Strangely enough a large number of the trees we planted in our orchard this winter have suddenly started to bud despite the arctic conditions. So our snow tales have largely been happy and strangely productive!