Mud. Looking positively (it takes effort but it’s possible) mud means that the water troughs aren’t frozen and the animals are reasonably warm and comfortable. I wasn’t here for our recent cold snap, but I’ve heard many reports of cold fingers fumbling at horse rug straps, and hens refusing point-blank to come out of their hen houses, and geese denting their beaks on frozen water tubs.
None of that applies at the moment, it’s mild and deeply, deeply muddy. Mud was a specialist subject anyway, as it will be to anybody with a smallholding in England. Now I’m bringing it up to PHD standard. And here are a few of my findings:
Hen mud. Loose and slidy, pale grey in appearance and thin in texture. Taking a hen at random (Frillz) it turns sparkling white feathers into tatty and grubby rags. Frillz is cross about this and blames me. She’s a girl who is usually high in self-esteem, but not at the moment. She adds that if I want any eggs I can whistle for them until the hen mud goes.
Goose mud. Soft and glutinous. Goose mud doesn’t happen naturally, it has to be worked up into a froth by the orange rubber beaks of geese. After they have spaddled mindlessly for a few hours the goose mud is ready to go. The plan is (if you are a goose) that you stand in it, then walk calmly but with intent to the hay barn where you stand again. The goose mud transfers to the floor of the hay barn where it sets like concrete and is nearly impossible to shift without power hosing. A success in every way (if you are a goose).
Dog walk mud. Deep, intense and yielding. Contains nameless horrors. The innocent bridle paths and footpaths where I have walked the dogs every day for ten years have become bottomless pits of filth, often with spontaneous streams running along them. The Labradors come home coated from stem to stern. Indie (whippet puppy) has several times needed saving from a slough of despond, and his pretty white party socks disappear daily behind a coating of dark brown yuk. Not recommended, even in a positive mood.
Field mud. Dark, sticky, reaching down to Earth’s primal core. Pockets of rainwater in every hoofprint. Field mud swallows buckets, hay bales, salt licks. It forms deep pits in gateways and (the real point of this blog) I lost a wellie in it this morning. It was bad enough hopping around in a rather nice sock (why or why did I wear a Christmas present cashmere sock in my wellies?) But the sheep and Harry came to watch me and I know, I just know, that the whole lot of them were laughing at me.
Thank heavens for a mug of coffee and some CHOCOLATE back at base.