I don't remember ever experiencing weather as cold as this. De-icing the car today was sheer hell as the lock froze over within seconds, there was ice inside the car and my hand actually stuck to the door handle. The draught excluder (Moo Moo the cow snake - don't ask, but he's rather gorgeous)was stuck by ice to the inside of the front door all day, despite the central heating roaring away. This evening my shoes were frozen onto the concrete outside my back door.
I keep hens in the back garden - four gorgeous Pembrokeshire Blacks, bred for cold conditions luckily. Named Beryl, Onyx, Jet and Doris (my mother's name) they have soft oily feathers that insulate them against freezing temperatures. Lately they have stopped bickering between themselves and adopted an attitude of sisterly love, which I know from experience won't last, and have taken to huddling together at night inside their straw lined house, inside the cat basket that has become the egg production room. They look hilarious squeezed into such a small space together, but what a sensible bunch, considering hens are incredibly stupid on the whole.
There was a feline fatality outside my garden gate this morning. I found a dear, sweet young black cat's still warm body lying there, presumably knocked down by the delivery van that I saw cruising round the corner, and try as I might I could not find anyone who recognised the poor moggy. I will not go into the details, but needless to say it will haunt me for a few days. God knows how a van travelling at about 5 mph could possibly do this, but I'm assuming that the cat or van skidded and didn't quite put the brakes on in time. RIP little cat.