Logs seem to be the centre of our conversations amid this snowy madness. How many have we got in a) the dining room pile, b) the old house hallway c) the pile under the summer kitchen canopy and d) outside and still to be dealt with pile. Of course the optimum reply to these machinations is, all fully stocked. Which they all are but it requires quite a number of small organised military style operations. To refill the dining room pile we have to go into the unrenovated, old part of the house which has double glazing but needs a new roof, new ceilings and floors; in short an enormous fridge. There are 2 routes to the 2nd hallway and the shelves of wood and eco bricks; go out of the front door of the renovated side negotiate the drifts in order to reach the front door of the old house, down 2 stone stairs glistening with ice and under a concrete platform barely holding up the external stairs let alone the weight of snow and ice! Or it is possible to detach 1 or 2 of the 5 EPS insulation boards we’ve jammed into the recessed internal doorway to the old house. Not too difficult on the way to the hallway but murders when one is laden like a donkey with fuel for the Petchka.
The steps down into the 2nd hallway in the old house
The big outside log pile is under there somewhere along with 101 health and safety hazards
The deceptive slippery pathway to c) the 2nd hallway and d) the outside wood pile
The dangers of navigating the snow whilst collecting wood (ahem some creative licence)
The trip to the external but covered pile outside the summer kitchen is less fraught. Dress up, grab an Ikea bag (always thought they were such an unergonomic shape till now) and start loading. The top logs which are covered in snow thanks to the wind go to the 2nd hallway to dry and the underneath logs straight to the dining room. The trip to our largest pile of wood is fraught with danger at the moment. The snow drifts hide the ground. Our wood pile has much of the wood from the old roof to the barn extension, the building off cuts and wood from the trees we’ve cut. Nails and thorns aren’t bad enough but the tarp that is covering the pile till we build a woodstore has hidden pockets of ice. You’re either slipping on them or dodging icy lumps that fly out from hidden in crevices in the tarp when it’s tugged. We are patiently waiting for Thursday and the big melt and above freezing temperatures. Time to attack the big pile again.
Terry and I have given in to lethargy. It is simply too cold to work outside or in the old part of the house. The little electric heater that we’d been successfully using to take the edge of the temporary workshops was, as a candle against an avalanche, useless in these temperatures. Of course we have the animals to deal with, the general upkeep of the house and ourselves but that seems to be it. The landscape in the garden has taken a weird lunar appearance which is made more unsettling by the deafening silence around us. It is as if the snow has absorbed all the sound waves and smothered them.
This is where we will be pasturing the pigs and allowing them to clear the land particularly the root stumps.
The I-vor Williams and the cement mixer sporting frozen capes
Terry has made a few door linings and has begun sanding down 1 of the reclaimed doors. I’ve started to sand the outside of the cast iron lion foot bath. As I removed the rust bumps and nasty yellowish enamel the beauty of the metal caught my eye. The bathroom has granite, marble and stone all of which have subtle shadings and spectrums of colour. I called Terry up and we discussed whether to simply strip the outside of the bath and varnish it. After a short discussion we decided to strip it and see. Terry has grouted the tiles too and the bathroom is coming together. The colours and textures are new to us, and are an evolution of both our tastes. I’m glad we’re taking it slowly. Terry was ready to drive into Veliko Tarnovo yesterday and convinced me that we could only find the grout for the bathroom in Praktiker. We jumped into the Landy with it’s newly fixed windscreen nozzles and fully working heater and within 5 minutes we did a U-turn and decided to stay closer to home because we didn’t have a phone on us. Rule number 1 in these conditions – don’t go far from home without a phone. We went to Levski instead, a mere 7 minutes down the road. The road had been cleared but was still coated in compacted snow. Terry drove in very sensibly which is more than can be said of some of the other drivers. Driving at dry weather speeds and not giving any consideration at all for the conditions. It is pretty frightening.
We worry constantly about the pigs despite assurances that they were born in a 3 sided hut in -6 degrees. We feed half their food in a hot water gruel and the other half dry so they can root and move about. We also feed them kitchen scraps, apples, cabbage – anything really. They are also getting to know us and approaching which is encouraging. I’m embarrassed to say I try not to meet their eyes too much. Terry on the other hand lies in the straw with them taking time to befriend them. They are sweet and very intelligent. We also don’t have to worry about Bodie. She climbs the pig wire, in an inelegant pregnant way and stares inquisitively at them. She’s tried to go in the sty with the pigs and they don’t seem to fazed but we’re erring on the side of caution. Vinnie is still way too interested.
They seem to be fine. Ted or Teddy Edwards our 1 of a kind ginger Tom cat kitten gave us much more to worry about when he didn’t return 2 nights ago and the thermometer was grazing -21 degrees. Usually early to bed Terry and I sat till near midnight calling and looking for him. As a pragmatist I knew that it was pointless to continue waiting. Terry was especially nervous. He is the cat person in our relationship. We both love animals but his relationship with Ted is amazing. Ted is about as wonderful a cat as you could wish for. He isn’t frightened of the dogs but is savvy enough to know when to get out of their way when they get over excited. He offers his love unconditionally and treats humans and animals with equanimity. He is as happy to curl up with the pigs as he is with the dogs or us. Ted will run up and kiss Terry on his lips. He allowsT erry to manipulate his lithe titian body in any convolution and will simply relax and enjoy the fun. There is no malice in the cat. Terry had a poor nights sleep and only really revived when I went downstairs and there was naughty Teddy Edwards on the doorstep. He was so cold his slinky, thick pelt was fluffed up and sported tiny crystals of snow on the very ends. I scooped him up and delivered him to a very grateful Terry. Terry is all for locking the cat in overnight but I have vetoed that. He has a job too – he is our rater and mouser. He needs to be able to turn up for his job. However, he rolled up nonchalantly just before we went to bed last night, clever cat. Today I noticed a very attractive ginger and white female looking longingly from her hide hole under the stacked summer chairs under the summer kitchen canopy. Now it all makes sense, beware the ginger lothario!
I’m going to end this post on the weather because it is so extreme. We had been forecast a couple of days with above freezing temperatures but that has changed and we are heading for another Siberian blast by Sunday. Which is unfortunate because we’ve successfully bid on a range for the internal main kitchen but it is a 3 1/2 hour drive away in good conditions. Fortunately the seller understands; he has been snowed in for the past 3 days himself!