Out in the winter fields, a low winter sun began to slip behind the trees. Time to venture out again, onto frozen snow and sheets of ice beneath. Time to layer on warm clothes and tough boots.
Down in the garden, fox prints criss-cross snowy grass. Follow the prints and they dip through a hollow beneath a fence. A place where the foxes come at night, from the wide, moonlight- white fields, to find food beneath the bird table, or underneath the kitchen window where some scraps are often thrown.
The Ginger Pony waits for supper. If he sees a curtain move, he will neigh his loudest and stare through window into the house. He is round and sleek beneath his rug, but New Forest ponies are always, always hungry!
Long Tailed Tits have a bath. This afternoon I moved the shield of thick ice in the bird bath and replaced it with warmer water from the kitchen tap.
Out in the fields, the sun is setting.
While I mix their evening feeds and fill wheelbarrows with hay, every move is watched . The Ginger Pony is first in line for supper........
....while the commoners` ponies, outside on the frozen heath, wait by the Forest gate for a handful or two of hay.
Here is the senior mare. She bosses the others around and must always be fed first. She is a notorious old bully. We do not know her real name. We call her The Baggage, because that is what she is!
And so I set off on my rounds, to feed, to scatter piles of hay, to check and to talk to the hungry watchers. Tonight, my friend came unexpectedly so we shared the work together. It was good to have human company as the evening fell and our boots slid and crunched across the frozen land.
Time to go back in, where cats slept in the warm.
I had forgotten to take my camera off the "Sunset" setting, so Lucy bathes in an orange glow.
That`s better. Now you can see the stripes.