The feel of snow underfoot is always a pleasure for me. The crisp squeakiness takes me right back to our childhood winter garden. The shock of the cold and brightness. And there are always the footprints.
“Are those really my steps?”
As I walked down the garden I remembered my ninth Christmas. I was given a microscope and it snowed. I spent hours collecting falling snowflakes on a piece of soft black cloth and rushing indoors to marvel over the beauty of each flake before it melted. Every snowflake is said to be unique.
Thunder burst out when I opened the hen house door. Apart from the first alarming steps across this new crunchy covering, he took the snow in his stride. The wild bird seed treat was just too tempting to dilly dally. Cloud was bemused, trying to eat the snow in preference to the seed that I’d scattered for the flock. She quietly tasted and examined the flakes for a good five minutes making small inquisitive Guinea Fowl pring sounds. It was so good just to stand and watch her sample a few flakes and move gently on to try some more further down the run. Unhurried, yet as diligent as a lab technician on a Nobel Prize winning team.
Snow was a new experience for Peace and Hope too. Our new Wyandottes swayed uncertainly on the edge of the nesting box and gazed out over the icy terrain. Chivvied by me, they looked at each other and flew down to investigate.
These two new girls are settling in well now and sometimes, on very chilly nights, prefer the warmth of the hen house and actually brave the stairs and the pecks of the bigger hens. On the nights that they choose to sleep under the starlit sky they are lifted into the house. These pretty hens remind me of Cora and Clarice who lived in Gormenghast Castle. They used to pause and look at each other before tackling a task as one. I read The Gormenghast Trilogy in my twenties and the characters in these novels have haunted me ever since.
It was young Beatyl’s first experience of snow. His strut was not quite so strutty after the first footfall. But he picked his way across to snow to join the girls. They are a great little threesome.
Mrs Boss is loving being a bit further up the pecking order. She is now invited to the morning cocktail party hosted by the senior poultry and she also has access to the kids’ tea party at the other end of the run. She bustles between the two events, happier than she has been for years.
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