“Goodnight ladies.” I say as I come up, shining a quick light through the coop to be sure the rouge possum that’s been about hasn’t found it’s way in for the night. The feathery bundles hardly shift from their toe warming hunker as I close the door. But if the chickens are indifferent to my presence the ducks make up for with their blind panic at my after dark arrival. Years of the same nightly routine and not even my “Hey Ducks.” called out as a warning that it’s just me calms them. So after a quick head count, I scoot the door closed on their frantic quacking.
Evening lock up done, I call the dogs and we circle back to the house taking the long way. The dogs happily bound ahead through the snow, no doubt hunting bunnies. The cold air is sharp on my cheeks but I’m bundled up against the cold and I turn my flashlight off, enjoying the sounds of the dogs, the glow of the snow and stars and relish the fact that I’m doing “chores.” As in, I’ve got to go out and take care of the birds. Have to haul that water. Have to make sure they have feed. Have to get the eggs. Have to close them up, safe from predators and the nasty wind that’s building.
Twice a day.
I have to go out in the mornings when everything is covered in last night’s blanket of snow. I have to bring the dogs along and watch them tear through the fresh powder. I have to go out through the storms, hearing nothing but wind and snow, cocooned from the rest of the world inside the weather. I have to go out on the crystal clear nights and see the stars hanging low and bright. I have to go out where I can look back at the glow of the warm house through the trees knowing that if I’m a bit chilly, the fire inside will feel extra warm when I get back.
What a “chore.”
I head back into the warm house taking one last look at the bright stars, one last breath of the air that stings my nose and wonder – as much as I love the winter weather, would I leave my warm fire without those indifferent birds awaiting my care? Would I miss all this? I’d like to think not, that when the temperature drops I’d still be out just for the adventure of it all.
But I’ll keep my birds – just in case.