Kessy's breath streamed upward around her frosted whiskers as she greeted me at the porch. A chicken pecked fruitlessly at a frozen puddle, others strutted about complaining about my slow pace. From its perch on an oak branch watched a chilly Chickadee who looked like nothing more than a gray-black ball of puffed feathers. The past two mornings have been the coldest in two years, according to the news. Of course what's really cold here in central VA is not nearly as cold as other places. Kessy and I understand it's all relative, but here yesterday's 20 was plenty cold. This morning's 12 made that seem warm! I told Kessy a friend in northern PA who told me it was 2 below there yesterday morning. She nodded.
Scattering chicken scratch, checking the heated chicken waterers, and Kessy's too, took longer than Kessy and Saturday liked. Saturday bounced and howled in his silly beagle fashion. It’s a dance he's perfected, sort of, certain those ungraceful moves and notes will get him breakfast quicker. It doesn't. Kessy followed my every step, occasionally offering a stomp of a hoof or a well timed snort. You see I've got a few things to tend to each morning before we pull up the Coffee Clutch chair and crack open the thermos, and though the routine almost never varies, Saturday and Kessy try every day to hurry me.
Finally the chickens were feed and watered, Kessy's hay bag, filled and her bedroom straightened up. Saturday has inhaled his breakfast, and Kessy's had her 4 ounces of grain. Ready for coffee.
This morning I strategically position my chair in the corner, to be behind Kessy and out of the wind which seemed to be building. Should have worn my earmuffs. My gloved hands hurried to open the thermos and pour that all important first cup of black gargle. Steam rose from the thermos like smoke from a fire. Saturday huddled behind me. Where are Tigger and Miss. Kitty you might be wondering? They both had stopped at the door and never made it outside when the saw the steam raising from Kessy's breath. Kind of fair weather Coffee Clutchers, they are.
Mr. Chickadee, I noticed as I sipped, had been joined by several Doves and a small herd of Juncos, and they had taken possession of the West end of the chicken feeding station. A few squirrels joined them, too. Half the chickens strolled into the barn, a few joined Saturday and me behind Kessy. We were a cozy group. Kessy munched, I sipped, Saturday dug deep in the hay, and the chickens pecked, scratched and clucked all around Kessy's feet. Until Kessy, with her ear pinned head toss, invited them to leave. A Nuthatch called in the woods. A faint train whistle drifted in.
Most of the weekend's snow was already gone. Kessy and I had enjoyed riding in it Saturday and Sunday, but it had been near 50 then. Our forecast calls for a few days of this 20 to 30 degree business so I reckon we'll get used to it. Ah the seasons of Coffee Clutch. Won't be long until we are hanging the hummingbird feeders. And Phoebes start new nests in the barn.