Hill sheep are not entirely stupid. In a driving blizzard, they will huddle together in the lee of a stone wall. Normally it works. But when the snow just goes on and on and the drifts cover them they die where they shelter, only to be found by the hill shepherd's dog, or when the snow thaws.
Radio 4's 'On Your Farm' broadcast this morning is shocking and powerful, all the more so as it features only the voices of a single reporter, Sybil Ruscoe, and those of hill farmers now burying their dead stock. Hill farmers are as tough as their stock, and their voices were steady, but beneath the laconic accounting of stock losses the tension they were feeling was audible, a quiver in the voice that they could not disguise or repress. The loss is not so much the lambs but the breeding ewes - and to lose 250 from a flock of 500 may be a terminal event.
There will be no government aid, and this is ideologically right, though it means a further diminution in those working lives we used as a nation to hold iconic of our island breed - the hill farmer, the trawlerman, the forester - and no doubt the survivors will be the toughest and most resilient of their kind.
But please, no whining or pleading today for the indolent urban welfare underclass and their 42" plasma TVs. I'm really not in the mood.