Sunrise/sunset: 08:03/16:02 Daylength: 7hr59min
Last week was all about the snow. When it was coming down and down and down, it was almost as if it was lying heavily in my mind, rather than just on the roof; there was a real feeling of never-ending work coming at me. I took a photo of a snow drift that had formed beside the garage, that was both beautiful and daunting in its sheer volume.
As you can probably see, the drift reached almost to the roof. There are still huge piles of snow along the front and back of the house. It gathered on the roof, then partially melted and fell off in huge quantities, to the point where we couldn’t keep up with it. Doubtless there will be more before the winter is out, but as summer time comes nearer, and the sun returns it has begun to feel less daunting.
It’s been very much milder this week and though there is still a thick covering of snow, the relentless feeling has gone. Quite apart from anything else, Andrew and I are going on holiday in two week’s time and it’s finally close enough that I can begin to properly look forward to it. We are heading to the UK. I expect there will be signs of spring there, in the south at least. We are also meeting Anna and Lauren, as well as my parents and hopefully, my sister Helen. I expect it will whizz by, but by the time we return, we will be well into March.
I had an interesting case at the abattoir this week. A batch of pigs came in and two of them had clear signs of a bacterial disease: erysipelas (rødsyke in Norwegian). I’ve never seen it before, but some of its symptoms are so distinctive that I remember them from university. The pigs I saw had very classic, diamond-shaped, raised red patches on their skin. The other thing I remembered from university is that it is a zoonosis – it can spread to different species, including people. The bacteria can survive a long time in infected meat, even if it’s kept chilled, so it’s important that infected pigs are kept out of the food chain. I also had to call the farmer and make sure he understood the risks and would take suitable precautions.
There was also an article on the front page of Mattilsynet’s intranet this week about the fact that tuberculosis had been picked up a some time ago in an abattoir further south. The investigation and (hopefully) eradication process is ongoing, but the article pointed out that though meat inspection is often seen as the poor relation in terms of importance when it comes to animal health and welfare, it can play a hugely significant role in keeping people and animals safe.
I have also been out on some welfare visits this week for the first time since the autumn. It was good to get out and about, and happily both the animals we went to see were not at risk. Thomas and I also went out to pick up a stray cat, only to find it had been picked up by Dyrebeskyttelsen (a Norwegian animal welfare charity) two hours before we got there. Our travels took us over to the far side of Senja, where the snow was largely gone at ground level. It is amazing how much difference in temperature the gulf stream brings, even this far north, though you can see the thick ice on the left, where the snow has been flattened in a car-parking area. Ice takes a lot longer to melt than snow.
With the higher temperatures outside, the temperature in the house has also been more stable. The larger, more powerful heat exchanger I bought on moving in still wasn’t enough to keep the house properly warm when it was minus twenty outside. The wood stove has been wonderful though, and has been of particular interest to Triar. For most of his life we have lived in apartments in the cellars of other people’s houses, which is relatively common in Norway. Neither of our flats had fires or stoves and so he has always curled up on the couch beside us. But I had begun to notice that, now and then, he would go and lie in front of the wood stove when it was on. He didn’t lie there for long though and it crossed my mind that, in the UK, almost everyone I know has some kind of rug in front of the fire and a rug would be much more comfortable to lie on than laminate. And so, we have got Triar a sheepskin to lie on near the fire. As you can see, he loves it very much. Hope you all have a good week.