At various points during January and February Stuart and Gregor had to come in because I couldn’t get out due to snow. Me and my husband live ½ mile off the main road and the single track path was completely impassable. But at some point you just have to get out, so us and the neighbour started digging our way out and I can tell you, shovelling snow for ½ mile is pretty good exercise!

So, that was that and we managed to travel again.

Then, one Saturday I set off at 8.15 to go to the shop and it wasn’t too bad with just a few stretches where there was snow blowing over the main road. Until I had to signal an approaching car for an avalanche blocking one half of the A823! I managed to drive past, but when I checked the travel news an hour later, the road had become impassable due to several avalanches, so I was very lucky! By the time I went home at 5.30pm, the only evidence of avalanches was walls of snow at the side of the road and a bent fence.

This is not the first time the A823 got blocked by avalanches; years ago it happened too at the same spot. There is just a very steep slope right next to the road and when there is enough snow, it will create a bit of a problem. Anyhow, our road is not as problem prone as the ‘Rest and be Thankful’ road!

We sadly lost ‘Hannah, 2nd in command’ mid-February. She all of a sudden took ill during the really cold weather we had and despite me bringing her indoors and feeding her nutrients and vitamins, she didn’t make it. They are rescue chickens and so are older and more prone to illness than chickens purchased from a breeder. If you are thinking of getting rescue hens yourself, this is one of the things you need to keep in mind; they won’t live as long as ‘new’ hens, but at least you are giving them a better life for the last few months (and more often: years) of their lives.

If you are interested, this is the charity:

I’ll tell you what though: Hester couldn’t wait to be 2nd in command and as soon as Hannah had left us, she took the spot. Hank the Tank is the leader now, Scary Hetty is bottom hen and Helga is just The Explorer and doesn’t really belong to a flock. Mind you, Scary Hetty, was named so because she didn’t grow back any back feathers and has a creepy look, but now that she has grown back her feathers, she is not so scary any longer (still got the look of a serial killer though!).

We are now in what is called ‘the hungry gap’, the time of year where there really isn’t much to harvest any longer and the new vegetables are still way off the size you want them at, or not yet germinated at all! Even my pickled and fermented vegetables have finished. I can’t wait until the weeds start to grow again. I know what you are thinking:”How can Josine want weeds to grow?!” Well, that is because you can eat quite a few! I tend to look forward to include the first of the green, leafy ‘vegetables’ aka weeds in my diet.

I’ll start to include a list of seasonal vegetables and fruit in the newsletter too; this is a list of the fruit and vegetables which when you buy them should say ‘grown in Scotland’ or at least in the UK.

If you only eat vegetables which have been grown locally it means you get a varied diet throughout the seasons and it also keeps you interested in the different vegetables because you can only eat them at certain times of the year and it greatly reduces your carbon footprint because they haven’t been shipped or worse, flown in. I am also a strong believer that seasonal vegetables provide us with the nutrients we need at that particular time of the year, for example curly kale contains even more beta-carotene (vitamin A) than carrots and this vitamin improves night vision, aka needed for the dark winter months!

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