The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Back to the snow again

Inca in the snow again!

Inca in the snow again!

I met our neighbour John at our gate this afternoon with his new dog, Greg. John and Frieda give homes to potential ‘hearing dog’ puppies. After a year they are sent off for assessment and training if they make the grade. Greg is a beautiful and energetic Working Springer Spaniel. This was John’s second walk of the day and Greg still seemed very bouncy.

“I’ve been checking your car every time that I pass and so I know that you finally went out yesterday!”
“We’d run out of essentials, so I had to go. It took me an hour to clear the snow off the car.”
“That’s because there was a thaw followed swiftly by more snow. Ice underneath?”
“Yes and a devil to clear.”

Thank you for all your comments on my last post. I agree that it’s crazy not to clear the snow. I will next time as, thanks to you, I now know how to completely eradicate it with salt and sand. Most people wouldn’t dream of suing if they slipped outside the cottage but there are always a few who’d like to push their luck these days.

As the most countries are short of funds I reckon that the sort of announcement made by Boris Johnson in London – see Marion’s comment on my last post – would set jittery minds at rest. If it’s the Local Authority’s responsibility to clear the paths around here they clearly are not doing it. Funds must have run dry. Personally I’d much prefer that a few extra useful jobs were created and each community cleared the snow.

People will stand together if up against it. I know that I would volunteer to clear the snow for the elderly and for those that just don’t have the time. A small donation from the latter to village funds would be fine.

I did get my comeuppance for not clearing the snow from The Duchess, our drive and the pavement in front of the cottage. Admittedly I have been stricken with a bug these last few days but as Diane said in the comments – if you do it immediately, it’s very quick and easy. And a decent scattering of salt would have removed any treacherous ice. Agricultural supply shops have large bags of salt for very low prices around here.

I tend to do these sorts of jobs at home. Although Danny works from home, his job is demanding with loads of conference calls and high pressure stress. Whereas I’m more of a free wheeler with a schedule that is much more flexible. And actually I usually enjoy simple routines like clearing the snow. But this week I was holed up in bed and was hoping that rain might come and do the work for me. And Danny was busy, busy, busy.

Yesterday we’d run out of essential supplies, so I chirpily volunteered to motor into Newmarket. After finally clearing TD of snow I set out with the temp at -3.5. The roads seemed pretty clear but the Tesco car park was very icy(are they worried about litigation too?). Although my visit was a quick one – most people had wisely stayed at home – by the time I returned to the cottage the temperature had slipped down to -6.

I know that loads of people are experiencing far colder temperatures than that but it’s cold for us! I loved Casalba’s comment on the last post – she’s coping with three meters and pulling on her husband’s waders to cope with her snow.

As I’d finally purred falteringly out to the shops – TD hates the cold and has a tendency to buck and occasionally stall – I’d noticed that it was a bit skiddy on the drive. So I wasn’t surprised that on my return The Duchess’ back wheels spun when I tried to reverse through our gate. She clearly was not going to reverse gently into the drive like the oversized sweet natured lamb that we’ve come to love.

Panic. The Duchess was protruding out on the road at the end of a blind corner. Luckily it was now dark so the gash of headlights streaming across the road indicated that a vehicle was lurking. As cars slowed and overtook us, my head whirled. In hindsight I could have spread the car rug over the ice to give a bit of extra traction. But at the time the best idea that I could come up with was to get a bit of distance from the drive and approach quickly from different angles so that I’d be crossing virgin snow.

It worked on the fifth try. Phew!

  Leave a reply


  1. Thanks sor the info on winter tyres, I’ve got mine on (its a legal requirement here inGermany) but was wondering if it wasn’t a big waste of 300Euro since we’ve hardly any snow – it seems not! oh and re clearing your path – we have to do that too (so thank goodness for not much snow as apparently you have to do it by 8am!! – as hubby is away that’s my job presumably with the baby in the sling while I do it)

    • Fiona Nevile

      I reckon that winter tyres are a good idea. Unusual to fit them over here though.

  2. Dear Fiona, we are further north than Rome – about 2 hours – and they have come to a standstill. I’ve seen pictures of female citizens teetering on their high heels – they aren’t equipped for this on any level.

    To answer yout question, no, I don’t ski.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Getting a bit fed up with the snow now 🙁 I’ve been wearing a hat in bed as it’s so cold!

  3. Re. clearing the snow and who is responsible- we have received an “order”/request from the Mayor that each citizen clear the path/road, etc. in front of their house.

  4. We know of a guy who clears the car parks for Sainsbury’s- unfortunately not our local one, but ones in Hertfordshire- he gets called out overnight. However somebody else must be doing our local store as it was cleared of the overnight snow we had by the time it opened today.

  5. Aren’t you worried about poisoning your soil with the salty runoff once it melts?

  6. Jenny Debeaux

    This was sent in an email this morning:

    It may be a bit longwinded but I thought it was very interesting. We live on a hill and when it snows we can’t get out onto the main road to go shopping or to work etc., hence my gratitude for the very little snow we’ve had so far. Oh for a Premium Bond win, so that I could buy a house on the flat……..

    • Fiona Nevile

      I watched the videos and was struck by how good the winter tyres performed. Thank you for supplying such good information! A house on a hill looks so pretty in summer but must be deadly when it snows 🙁

  7. I’m going to have to send you some photos, Fiona. We have two setters who, luckily for them, started setting tracks along their regular runways whilst the snow was still quite low. This has helped them get out and about now that the snow is far deeper than their height – if you get my (snow) drift. Your min pins would have to work so much harder.

    Anyway, “onwards”! Spring is around the corner. Love to all at the Cottage.

    • Fiona Nevile

      I’d love some photos. Never thought that you’d get so much snow so far south. Do you ski?

  8. I don’t think Tesco are afraid of litigation, tbey’re probably just cheap! My local Asda gets really bad ice due to its position, and it’s always spotlessly gritted. I think they just know people will go to them rather than all the way into town if they make it easy for their customers! And it works since I know people that switch to shopping at Asda when the weather is bad!

  9. Fiona,
    I don’t think you have cats, so probably don’t keep this around, but if you put a bag of cat litter in your trunk, you can sprinkle it over the icy spots if you get stuck. I grew up in the NE US and spent plenty of cold winters before I got smart and moved south, and we always carried some kitty litter in the winter for just this purpose. And when the snow is gone it just washes away, so no mess! When I had a VW I used it also to add a little weight to the car, to also help with traction. Good luck and be careful!

  10. Our car didn’t like the cold this week, it’s a diesel and at -32.4C it sulked big time. Actually it ended up going to the garage with wax in the filter that comes out at those kinds of temperatures, even using winter diesel. We rarely got above -20C for quite a few days and because our car wasn’t working we had to walk – it wasn’t too bad but we were wrapped up like Michelin men

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