Making the rounds, I turned my back to the wind and made my way down the gap to check on the cows. The drifts were nearly head high in places. I rolled under the hotwire and kept moving. I was really concerned with finding the new calf, but only a handfull of cows were at the hay, backs turned to the north, just standing like statues. I tried to look for the rest, but the frigid wind was freezing the tears in my eyes. I could sort of make out some black cattle standing down in the dry creek bed, out of the wind, so I decided if they weren't smart enough to seek cover, there was nothing I could do, and headed back up to the barn. The chickens were next on the list. I nailed some burlap sacks to the window to keep some of the snow out, but it still blew in. It was warm-ish in the henhouse, but their water was an iceblock. I could tell that there weren't 12 hens, even though I couldn't see all the way up under the nesting boxes. Again, there was nothing I could do. I closed them in and headed back to the house - all of my footprints from earlier, had been erased by the wind. Grabbing the cats from the barn, we pushed with the wind toward the house - the cats were glad for the warmth of the laundry room and some Friskies. I shucked all of my snow covered clothing and stood by the fire. Dyke had gotten up, remade the fire from the night before, and was watching the news. My cheeks burned with the instant warmth that touched them. I walked to the window to see how tall the drifts had gotten and saw something orange under my cactus. As I tried to focus my eyes from the blinding whiteness, I realized it was one of my hens. She had been out all night, sought refuge under the cactus and just huddled there in the drift. I ran outside, snow crunching under my slippers, sounding like I was walking on a pile of broken pieces of styrofoam. I scooped her up and could feel the packed snow and ice under her wings and tail. Wrapping her in a towel, I sat with her beside the fire. She was unresponsive. The snow began to quickly melt and drip and I was able to remove the slabs that had frozen up under her wings. As I unwrapped her from the towel, thinking the heat from the fire would warm her faster, she opened her eyes. I placed her on the towel and she just hunkered there. Her toes were caked in ice. I knew she wasn't going anywhere soon, so I poured another cup of coffee and went up to wake Zack. I crawled under the covers with him and we visited. He was glad that school was cancelled. After I finished half of my mug, I headed back down to check on my hen. What I saw completely amazed me! She had laid an egg right there on the towel! It was so egg-citing! I knew I had to put that in my blog! It was warm and oh so fresh!
I went to the south windows again to look out and noticed a pick up in the driveway, so I went to the back door and a large Mexican man stood shivering at the door. He asked for Dyke, so I invited him in out of the cold. I quickly had to explain why there was a chicken sitting by the fireplace...that was a bit awkward. He started talking when I did, so I don't even know if he heard my reasoning about the chicken. We stood by the fire and he told us that he was getting some hay from a farmer out here, and his truck had high centered down the road. He said he walked to a nearby house, where no one was home, borrowed a pick up that had keys in it and drove it to our house to get help. Why would someone be out on the roads? He didn't even live out here, but he said that a year or so ago, he had worked for a farmer out here. It was mysterious and I was skeptical. He continued to warm up while Dyke and Zack got ready to help him. Then, he was gone and I pondered why he was out here in this part of the country on a day like today...strange!
The rest of the day was spent inside - until evening chores, watching The Horse Whisperer for the 100th time! Don't you just adore a movie that you've seen more times than you can recount? Hot, fresh, buttered popcorn, and a cool drink, a classic, bracing film by Robert Redford,warm antique quilts to bundle yourself - still clad in your pj's and hours of time left in your "free day off"! Perfect!