As with most parts of the country we are still covered in snow and the cold which spreads fans of ice crystals across the thin cottage window panes draws animals from the wood in search of food and shelter. Wood pigeons clatter from the dark leaved ivy each time the door is opened – they have been searching out the black berries to fill their crops – and yesterday a movement up in the shed rafters, which I took for a rat turned out to be a weasel. A few days earlier I had watched him emerge from a hole on the lawn, look about, duck back in and re-emerge with a dead vole which he carted off to the wood pile. Guests which eat rodents are very welcome, others less so, such as the fox I discovered sniffing about the chicken pen. He was a fine beast laid out in the snow, dark and glossy with a splendid white tipped brush.