It is a first for her. She is here by herself as a nor’easter’ powders the east coast with a fine snow. It is heavier than it seems, whirling or sideways, building up fast.
The Biker is still in Florida. The Writer headed south yesterday much later than he planned. He stopped to say good-bye. She made him breakfast. They chatted. Dante’, school, future plans and past life; time slid by. He runs into freezing rain at the edge of the storm and stops for the night.
She fills a bucket with water and finds the day old bagels and chicken scraps. She shrugs on the big overalls zipping her phone into a pocket as a precaution. She routes out another hat as the one used earlier is still wet. She soon realizes she should have had everything prepped for chores before she dressed. She is overheating as she fills a pitcher for the bird feeders.
She plows her way to the woodshed with the big yellow scoop made to clear snow off the roof. Adding a bit of wood to the furnace she then plows out to the Deuce Coop. Shovels the coop steps and entry way to the run. On a whim she also clears the snow in front of the box shed. She might need something from there later.
Not bothering to shovel a path she tromps through the snow to the bird feeders. Snow is sifting down her neck. This hat does not work as well as the cast off camo fleece one she usually wears. She comes in the back door and stomps her red boots but still tracks in snow as she goes to the kitchen to get the yard stick. Six inches on the flat of the picnic table.
Retracing her steps back past the woodshed she digs for the scrap pans among the coils of stored sap lines. The rubber palmed gloves she wears for chicken chores are not as warm as her leather ones drying on the rack. She usually scatters the scraps on the ground when she lets her flock out to free range in the late afternoon. She is doing chicken chores early and no one will come out of the run today. She fills a pan with freezer burned broccoli and leftover corn. Another one holds spaghetti and sunflower seeds that got damp filling the feeder so she did not pour them back in the can.
She hauls the bucket of water to the run. The waterer is still a third full. The hens are all in the coop. Not drinking as much water so less eggs tomorrow. She hangs the bagels off the roost and puts out the pans of scraps. Going into the coop with the egg basket she tries to shoo them into the run to find their treats but they don’t cooperate. She goes to the box shed for scratch feed and scatters it on the ramp to coax them out. Dominica comes to investigate followed by Emmaline and plump old Strawberry. Soon the ramp is full of pecking, sliding chickens. They jostle around the pans. She leans against a pole watching, waiting for them to find the bagels. The snow drifts in. The wind is “wild and shouting". The hens are uneasy. Every time the plastic wrapping the run flaps a couple dart back into the coop.
She gathers eggs. She fills the feeder with layer pellets, quickly shutting the feed bucket between scoops. Chores take longer in the cold and snow. She doesn’t mind. She likes weather and winter and seasons. She battens the coop door against the wind. Every path she just cleared is already drifted with a couple inches of snow. The snow is fast and furious as was predicted for midday.
Back inside she wriggles out of the coveralls. They go on easier than the come off. Despite the covering her corduroys are crusted with snow on the bottom so she switches them out for pajamas. She fortifies herself with a cup of hot bone broth she made a few days ago. She is not sold on it. The broth has good things in it: ginger, garlic, lime and nutrients leached from the chicken bones. There are no definitive studies showing that our bodies make use of these nutrients in this form. It is warms her anyway.
She cleans, counts and cartons the eggs. Twelve, including two that are broken, but no green ones.
She heats the oven for the Crusty Bread she set last night. She fills a pitcher with water. She might want it later if the power goes out. While the oven heats and the bread bakes she washes the few dishes not bothering to run the dish washer. The hot water feels good on her hands. Old songs keep her company.
The feeder outside the kitchen window is flocked with small birds. A fluffy Tufted Titmouse rocks on the top bar while Chickadees flit in and out. A Nuthatch hangs on the suet cage where a little Downy Woodpecker fed earlier.
Someone will come plow her out later. Her boys are on standby if she needs them. She is by herself but not alone.