Tuesday, 21 December 2010
Freeze a Jolly Good Fellow
By now I'm sure the whole world knows that the UK is having its hardest winter in decades. How can they not?- there's plenty noise been made about it.
Up here, we're more accustomed to wintery weather and it's more a matter of degree. Or lack of 'em.
Today, for example, the highest daytime temperature I saw was -8C. When I got home, just on darkness it was -12C. And now? Who knows, but the house is losing it's heat so quickly it feels like a door has been left open. I'm worried enough about burst pipes that I'm contemplating turning off the water supply and draining the system for tonight.
And, after only a handful of days respite, the snow is back with a vengeance. Not in the quantities we had earlier but still the best (or should that be worst) part of a foot.
And in the true spirit of British Rail, it's the wrong sort of snow. It remains light and powdery and totally useless for all these machines that we have for driving ON TOP of the stuff.
Here's a case in point:- in desperation I took the snowtrac out for a short foray. Upon our return I ran 'smack' into a gate. It turns out the last of the brake fluid from the mid-70s had evapourated away.
Next day I spent a rather cold morning flushing and bleeding the bleedin' system. But (and here comes the cruch) (another one that is!) when we came to take the blessed machine back 'oot the hill' we found we had not one but TWO punctures. I can only assume that in our previous flounderings, the track got a twist and the guide cleats on the track fouled the walls of the tyres.
Looking on the bright side, I am getting quicker at tyre changing/ track adjusting. Getting plenty of practice, aint I? (See 30.1.10, 1.12.10)
It was fine to get away from the sorting and spannering today. I managed to spot a wee group of deer in a not-too-excessive-for-extraction place. (Normally it's a place you'd boat them home from but, as you'll see in the photo, the loch is completely frozen; wouldn't you know it!)
It was a terrible plunge to get to them, and a horrendously broken and steep bit of ground to drag them out of but at least it bumped up the tally by another 3.
In my 20+ years on this estate, I've never seen our working lives as effected by the weather as this. And there is so much of the winter still to come.
We've culled just over half the number of deer we would normally have by Christmas. And there's no sign of things improving in the immediate future. We're only able to work a fraction of the ground we normally would, and the deer are quickly learning to avoid these areas. Woudn't you?
However, all might be changed by the time we've returned from the festivities.
'And a voice in the darkness said "Smile! Things could be worse." So I did.....and they were.'
In the meantime, here's wishing you all a Merry Christmas and I hope you'll be joining me again in the New Year.