I toss the manure on the pile then stuff my hat in my pocket. My coat is already unzipped.
When I’m done with the morning farm chores, I look for an excuse to stay outside.
As if just being there isn’t enough.
The hens have wandered away from the birdfeeder and peck around the apple tree as if they expect to find bugs in the frozen ground. When I squat down to watch them Kitty or Anne, it’s impossible for me to tell them apart anymore, comes to me curiously. She turns her head so we’re eye to eye and I know what she wants.
So I get up, go to the barn and grab a handful of mealworms.
Hearing the sound of metal on metal as I open and close the garbage can where I keep the worms, the sheep come running, badgering me with their baa’s. But I tell them, “No grain today, it’s too warm, go back to your hay.”
I squat down under the apple tree again. I toss some worms to Brown Hen and White Hen who are shy about eating out of my hand and hold out the rest to Kitty and Anne. Their beaks pinch my palm as they peck at the worms. I either hear or imagine a dull “clunk” when they try to eat my ring.
It’s a good day to wash the liner of my winter coat I think, knowing I will be dry by tomorrow if I do.
As the hens finish the worms and begin to wander away, I stay where I am watching them, seeing the sun soften in the clouds and smelling the thawing mature on the air.
And for a little while, I pretend it’s spring.