Its been three weskit weather here this past week with night time temperatures reaching as low as minus 12 and daytime temperature not much better. We still have a lot of snow lying with the threat of more today. I went down to the hatchery on Friday just to check that everything was running. Our founding fathers really did know what they were about when they established the old hatching house and fish ponds at Brants Ghyll. Because the water emerges from its long journey underground only a couple of hundred yards above the hatchery site the water is always at a constant temperature summer and winter. The spawning channel and ponds are ice free despite the intense cold and there is even signs of life in the water plants in the channel. I took a few photographs some of which you may see in a future “Dalesman” article that is currently in preparation.
The Tarn is frozen solid with a deep layer of duck egg blue ice right down to the duck wall. How the overwintering fish will fare in this prolonged freeze up I can only wait and see, but there should be sufficient depth for them to descend to relatively warm water. The big concern is that the dissolved oxygen in the water will become depleted and the fish will suffocate. My normal method of combating this is to break holes in the ice with a sledge hammer, but this year the ice is far too thick to even contemplate doing this. Time will tell.
As for other wild life the local rabbits are having a tough time and are coming in close to the house to feed. This is much to the delight of the farm cats who now have ready meals delivered to the door. I went to the woodshed on Thursday and found a half eaten rabbit on the log pile. The top garden is alive with birds after the nuts seed and fat that we have been putting out daily. We are now visited by a wood pecker whose orange legs flash like beacons against the blanket of snow. With the pond frozen my ducks have taken to bathing in their water bucket and seem to enjoy the warm water so much that arguments break out from time to time when one outstays its turn in the bucket. The good news is that I have found no fox prints in my local wanderings so it looks as though they are absent from this bank of the river this winter and the swans may breed in peace in the summer. Summer, now there's a thought.