I'm not planning on doing much outside today; make that I plan to do as little as possible outside today and in fact would like little more than to plant myself by a roaring fire and read. But such is not life.
It's -21C and going up to a balmy -12C this afternoon.
A few warmish days last week (-8C) did encourage me to do some walking around the buildings. I do this on occasion through the winter, partly to ensure that nothing has exploded or collapsed or turned into a secret military base while we weren't looking, but also just to see what's going on in the quiet parts of the farm. While the house is as busy as ever and the two-storey frame barn will be a busy place next Saturday (work day on some bins the church uses to transport our sound equipment each week. Some guys will be working and I, in true farm wife form, will be feeding the menfolk), in the colder months the barns are left to themselves.
But they really are not empty, and when there is a new bit of snow on the ground I like to go and see who's been visiting. That's a definite advantage of winter over summer: the nocturnal visits of unseen critters are exposed. Raccoon tracks confirm that they have not vacated the old barn. A fox trotted across the farmyard, straight along the front of the main barn but not, I was glad to see, spending any time circling and casing the chicken coop. A mouse scurried along for a bit before burrowing under the snow cover.
A walk down to the creek (ostensibly to see the levels, but really to enjoy a bit of communion with the creek as it slipped its way along, still deep and fast but not rushing as before) afforded a rare sighting. As I stood on a huge slab of ice, five inches thick and as big as our kitchen table, left there as the water receded last week, I watched the creek and listened to the odd sound of the bits of ice brushing up against the frozen edges of the water. I was at first looking for an animal rustling through the bushes before realizing the true source of the sound. Then I saw a little head swimming upstream. Quietly, just the head showing, like a beaver's but smaller. I think a muskrat lives in that part of the creek, having seen its head quietly cutting through the water before. I watched him (her? who knows? Him/her, I guess) swim along, not twenty feet from where I stood, and then it slid under the skim of ice and was gone.
And me without my camera. Drat.