Tuesday, November 18, 2014

the way things work

It was a brutal night. The temps hit the single digits (that would be minus teens in Celsius). I imagined frozen chicken thighs and wings in the coop and I nudged Ed several times at night to remind him that it was probably a really tough night for our cheepers. (We go back and forth on whether to get them a small radiant heating unit. I think we'll break down if this January repeats last year's cycle of bitter cold.)

The sun broke the horizon just after 7 a.m. and I volunteered to free the birds.



For once they were not clamoring by the door. No wonder. Their bodies generate good heat when they are up in the roost together. The three girls upped the thermometer there by ten degrees -- all the way to a nearly tropical 19 F/-7C for the night.

But, they came down slowly and once again I felt grateful that Ed hadn't ripped the crumbling barn out the year he moved to the farmette. The cheepers are fairly protected from the wind in nooks and corners of the old structure.

Breakfast is utterly brilliant. It's always so sublime to have sunshine on your table on a cold winter's day!


And then I sit down (figure of speech there -- I actually stand at my stand-up addition to the table) to take stock. I have very many projects that are just getting hatched and of course that is both exciting and energizing, but the way things work in these fields where there are many players and few of them with satisfactory outcomes (I'm thinking: writers, or very serious amateur photographers) is that you can leave too much of it to the stars and before you know it, you're sitting on your hands and puzzling over why nothing came of any of them.

What to do?

My first response nearly always is to get organized. To set up record keeping for future tax issues that will surely emerge whether or not I make a single other dollar with this stuff. To clean out my Word files (I know, so "important," right? Like cleaning your desk when you're a kid -- it makes you feel like you accomplished something even as you've accomplished nothing at all). And finally to organize in my head what the next steps should be.

Subject to change.

Of course.

I then sit down and write a draft of a children's story just because I have never done that before and I wanted to see what it would be like.

(Admission: great fun!)

And by now it's afternoon and it is still beastly cold, though the thermometer says something inspiring like 15F/-9C and I look up from the kitchen table (you surely don't think I use the standing desk all day long?!) and what do I see? A red comb way in the distance! A cheeper is standing in the barn doorway!

I'm out like a flash. With bread bits and seeds in my hand and a big grin on my face, like a mom who is happy that her kids are finally getting some Vitamin D from the winter sun (I doubt the cheepers get or need vitamin D from the sun, but you see my point).

I chat them up and slowly, tentatively, they all try to step out for a bit, one clawed foot at a time.



But only Butter has the utter audacity to strut all the way to the sheep shed door. I fling it open and ask Ed -- do you have anything, anything to give her for her efforts? 
Just cat food...
Forget it. Let me tell you right now that there isn't a cat food on the market that doesn't have some bits of chicken in it.


For a minute, Butter felt the warm air coming from the sheep shed, but then she recalled her loyalties and trudged back to the barn.

It was good to see them all enjoy a touch of sunshine! The farmette land will be theirs again, I can see spring already on their horizon!

Though the way things work with this polar vortex is that we have another bitter night ahead of us. Even as I know our cheepers will survive. They've got it in them! I can tell!