Dramatic footage has captured the moment a farming couple were forced to dig their sheep out of a 10ft snowdrift during a snap blizzard caused by Storm Arwen.
Kate and Nev Barker worked for hours to find their missing flock on Saturday, November 27, after heavy snow hit their farm in Staffordshire farm, near the Peak District.
They realised three ewes were entombed under the snow and had to act quickly to save them.
Farmers Kate and Nev Barker worked for hours to find their missing flock on Saturday, November 27, after a flurry of snow hit their Staffordshire farm near to the Peak District
Dramatic footage captures the moment a married couple were forced to dig their Herdwick sheep out of a 10ft snowdrift during a snap blizzard caused by Storm Arwen
Temperatures plummeted to around 24.8F (-4C) over the weekend as a thick blanket of snow and ice smothered much of the Midlands and north-western England.
In the shocking footage, Nev can be seen battling through the ‘brutal’ weather as he desperately digs a hole for a confused sheep to escape through.
He encourages the animal towards him, clapping and shouting: ‘Come on, come on’, but their efforts appear to be in vain as it remains slumped on the ground.
After several minutes, the animal finally emerges and passes the camera. Its ice-encrusted wool is clearly visible, indicating it had been trapped under the mountain of snow for several hours.
Kate, 49, and Nev, 48, run a smallholding near Leek in Staffordshire, and own 50 sheep which are kept for breeding and wool.
As Storm Arwen rocked northern England at the end of last week, the pair were unperturbed about their flock of 50 Herdwick sheep, which are renowned for their hardy nature.
But when the pair woke up on Saturday morning they realised that after 10 feet of snow fell during the night, only 37 of their prize four-legged possessions were accounted for.
In particularly shocking footage, Kev can be seen battling through a blizzard and desperately digging a hole for a confused sheep to escape through
They encourage the animal towards them, clapping and shouting: ‘Come on, come on’, but their efforts appear to be in vain as it remains slumped on the ground
When the pair woke up on Saturday morning they realised that after 10 feet of snow fell during the night, only 37 of their prize four-legged possessions were accounted for
After walking around their acreage Nev and Kate became increasingly worried for the missing members of the flock.
‘The access into our fields was just thick with drifts,’ Kate said.
‘We were up to our waists, it was that deep we were just sinking. Panic set in.
‘We clambered over to the sheds and found most of them huddled there.
‘We dug the back of the shed out to gain access, so the flock could get some relief from the elements, and some hay and water.
‘Your instinct just kicks in.’
But some of the flock were still unaccounted for, so the pair used a crook to poke the larger snow drifts (above) looking for their sheep
Nev Barker (pictured) rescues one of his Herdwick flock during the dangerous Storm Arwen conditions
Another group of rams (pictured) – only visible because of their horns poking out the top of the drifts – also had to be dug from a similar situation in a different field
But some were still missing, so the pair used a crook to poke the larger snow drifts looking for their sheep.
They eventually found three ewes entombed in a drift that was more than 10ft high.
Video footage shows Nev digging out the first ewe with his bare hands, before enticing her out.
It took several minutes before she was brave enough to leave the igloo she had been stuck in.
Two further sheep were huddled behind her and all three were taken to the sheds to recuperate. Amazingly they were all unharmed.
A sheep with snow-encrusted fur is rescued by Nev after getting stuck underneath 10ft high piles of snow caused by Storm Arwen
Conditions did not return to normal until Tuesday, November 30 after Storm Arwen causes 10ft high snowdrifts
Another group of rams – only visible because of their horns poking out the top of the drifts – also had to be dug from a similar situation in a different field.
Nev is a joiner while Kate was formerly a countryside ranger.
They now own the smallholding near Leek, Staffs, on the edge of the Peak District National Park, where temperatures dropped to 24.8F (-4C) over the weekend.
In fact, things didn’t really thaw until three days later on Tuesday, November 30.
Nev said they treated their sheep like members of the family – and couldn’t bear to see them stuck.
He added: ‘It’s literally like you’ve got your pet dog stuck in the snow, and all you want to do is get them out and make sure they’re ok.’
‘The conditions were brutal,’ Kate added.
‘But amazingly they’re OK and now running around the fields like nothing ever happened.’
After walking around their acreage Nev and Kate became increasingly worried for the missing members of the flock. Pictured: A sheep sticks its head out from under a pile of snow
Up to 21,000 homes in Britain have now been without heating for nearly a week as temperatures plunged overnight and ministers were accused of presiding over a ‘national scandal’ amid the ongoing power outage.
More than a million homes lost power as Storm Arwen caused winds to reach almost 100mph, ripping down power lines and uprooting thousands of trees.
Parts of Scotland, North East England, Cumbria and the Peak District remain cut off today.
Early this morning, temperatures fell as low as -6.1C (21F) at Cairnwell mountain in the Scottish Highlands, while the chilliest lower-level location in the UK was Pershore in Worcestershire which dropped to -3.1C (26.4F).
The Met Office also issued an ice warning for much of Britain this morning, with up to 2in (5cm) of snow expected across higher ground in Scotland and the North York Moors – and some flakes even seen as far south as London.