I let the dogs out and trudge, head down, to the goat area. I put a flake of hay in the feeder and break the ice on the water buckets. The goats are more interested in playing in their shed than eating. I have to smile, warming up inside.
The dogs meet me as I shut the gate to the goat pen and they walk, flanking me, down the driveway towards the barn. As we round the corner, they take off in pursuit of squirrels or rabbits or cats. The sun is trying to find its way through the fog.
I walk down the barn aisle to get a carrot for the rabbits from the feed room. Mufasa is standing with his head over the stall door, looking down the aisle. I stop, smile, and praise him for his bravery. Until today, he wouldn't stick a whisker over the door, preferring to be closer to the back door and his run out. I get the carrot and go back to the rabbit pen. Sage is ready, hungry and eager. She wastes no time going to work on the carrot. Basil waits until I am gone before hopping over and eating her share.
While we are mucking, the sun breaks through the fog. The horses and donkeys crowd to the bottom of the pasture and stand in its weak warmth.
When Brett opens the gate to bring down the hay cart, bits of ice break off and scatter on the ground like diamonds.
The sky clears briefly, but then new clouds move in. We spend the remainder of the day close to the fire, watching snow fall.