30th July 1867
With the first light of dawn it was obvious to everyone that this was an unprecedented storm. Snow still fell, piling high against walls and building up on roofs. There was very little wind to push it into drifts, so it lay where it fell, covering everything in a thick blanket. Inside the house they could hear the roof rafters creaking and groaning under the extra weight, but apart from that there was an unusual silence about the place. Wild creatures sought places to hide in hollow trees or under the barn roof while the farm animals found themselves surrounded by deep white walls of snow, their body warmth melting just a little bit of space around them.
The first challenge of the new day was to get out of the front door. Fortunately, it opened inwards, but James came face to face with a wall of sparkling white snow right up to the lintel. The shovel lay against the wall by the door, but it was going to be an impossible task to dig enough out to form a path. He was going to have to rely on the men in the barn to keep an eye on things until the snow began to melt, but it meant it was going to be a frustratingly long day. Sophia became more and more grumpy at having the family under her feet and the children were bored by lunchtime and desperate to get out in the snow.