|In the Grip of Winter|
Cover of the 1982 publication
|Publication date||October 1981|
|Preceded by||The Animals of Farthing Wood|
|Succeeded by||Fox's Feud|
In the Grip of Winter is the second book of The Animals of Farthing Wood book series by Colin Dann. The book was illustrated by Terry Riley and first published in October 1981. It was also released as part of The Animals of Farthing Wood Omnibus in 1994.
Winter begins to arrive in White Deer Park so Adder and Toad find a place to hibernate near the pond. Adder goes into hibernation while Toad says his goodbyes to his old friends until the spring. After Toad leaves several of the animals predict that it will be a hard winter ahead of them. As winter goes on snow begins to fall and several of the Farthing Wood animals struggle to cope with the cold temperatures and the difficulty in finding food. Large numbers of voles and fieldmice perish and the rabbits and squirrels also suffer losses.
Badger searches out the advice of The Great Stag, but the snow causes him to slide into a large rock and he becomes injured. He is rescued by The Warden who cares for him in his cottage. Here Badger meets the Warden's cat and tells him all about his friends in the park and how much they will worry about him. Ginger Cat agrees to deliver a message telling them that Badger is safe. He heads into the park and gives the message to Mole, but Kestrel misinterprets the situation and attacks the cat, badly injuring him.
Mole takes Ginger Cat to see Fox and Vixen in their earth and they invite the cat to share a meal with them, but he leaves before they return from hunting. Ginger Cat tells Badger about the attack and vows to get revenge on Kestrel. Soon Badger is released by the Warden and heads back to his set where he suggests to the other animals that they should all go and live with the Warden. They reject this idea and he returns alone, but the Warden does not take him in and Badger realises what a fool he has been. Kestrel comes to greet him but is seen and attacked by Ginger Cat. Badger steps in to rescue his friend, but stops short of killing Ginger Cat, who retreats back to the cottage.
Badger meets up with his friends again and suggests that they go scavenging for food in a nearby town. Fox agrees to this idea and accompanies Badger, Kestrel, Tawny Owl and Whistler on the expedition. In the town they see two foxes steal some chickens from the grounds of a large house, but the foxes are seen and shot by two humans who place the dead chickens in a shed. Fox is able to retrieve the chickens and Badger finds food for the herbivores behind a small shop. The animals return to the park with their findings and the birds make several trips to deliver more food to the animals over the coming weeks.
As spring begins to arrive the Warden is taken ill and removed from the park, which allows poachers to arrive and shoot dead several of the white deer herd. Fox comes up with a plan to get rid of the poachers and leads them to the thawing pond where the Great Stag is standing. The stag runs away and the poachers walk onto the ice, but they fall through and their shotguns fall to the bottom, and they run away from the park. The poachers return to get revenge on Fox so the white deer try to remove them from the park again by charging at them en masse. The poachers return once more, but so does the Warden, so Fox leads them to the Warden's cottage and they are finally caught.
Spring arrives in White Deer Park and the hedgehogs emerge from hibernation, followed by Toad and Adder. However Toad's homing instinct causes him to head back towards his birthplace and the animals have to go looking for him. They discover that he and another toad have been captured by two small boys and placed in jam jars. Whistler picks one up and drops it onto the ground, freeing the female toad Paddock. He then picks up Toad's jar and takes it to the Warden, who opens it to set Toad free, and Whistler takes him back to the group. Toad is then introduced to Paddock and they immediately mate, and Paddock lays her eggs at the bottom of the pond. Then all the remaining Farthing Wood animals all get together to celebrate their survival through the winter.