Neighbours had been telling us that it hadn't snowed properly in Murchington for 7 or 8 years, so we were probably a bit naive to think we had got through our first winter unscathed just because it was nearly March. It had been getting colder for days, but yesterday it finally snowed - and snowed and snowed. We've lived through heavier snowfalls in the States, but never in Britain. By Friday morning snow lay 20cm deep around the house, with drifts many times deeper against walls and on roof corners. Walking around the gardens is an eerie sensation - strangely quiet apart from the crunch under foot where the top layer of snow has turned to ice.
With sources of food at a premium we are seeing birds that have previously kept their distance. Redwings have come in from the fields and can be seen in every hedge; siskins have come down from the tree tops to take seeds from the feeders, and yesterday I saw a lone lapwing scouring the hillside for nourishment. I've never felt the cruelty of winter so abruptly before. Only last week the animals around us were gearing up, ready for the fecundity of spring, now they are fighting to survive. We are doing what we can, but it feels all but hopeless given the scale of the icy carpet that surrounds us. We can only hope that the predicted melt comes in time to relieve the famine.