For many across the nation, the throws of winter are upon us or just around the corner. The last of the cord wood is being split and stacked. The flowers have all faded and the trees are but skeletons. The fall harvest is in and canning has been underway for some time. The smell of fresh baked bread and pies fills the homestead. We are all battening down the hatches for the winter months ahead. The generators have been fueled and checked and all the flashlights have their new batteries. The days are getting shorter and there is a distinct crispness to the air. The last of the hunts are on in the hopes of filling the freezer with fresh meat to carry us through. A warm fire crackles in the hearth. For many, the first of this season’s snow falls has blanketed the mountains and hill tops.

The natural brooding and hatching of chicks is over until the spring thaw comes. The hens have recovered from their molting and the roosters are gaining their glorious tail feathers back. The hen house has been re-sealed and a bit of insulation added to help protect from the winter winds ahead. A heat lamp has been hung for those really cold nights and new bedding put in the nest boxes, the fences have been checked and mended to keep winters predators at bay.

The hens are in the yard pecking at bugs, seeds and nuts, putting on that layer of fat to help keep them warm in the months ahead. The roosters are perched high to watch over their flock. The clouds are a steel gray as they creep in from the north. It is preceded by a light breeze that merely rustles the dried grasses. Quietness falls upon the land. There is a smell about the air that can only mean one thing. There, way up high, it is spotted. The hens cackle with joy and the rooster lets out a resonating crow. Tumbling every so softly, the first snow flake falls to the ground.

Winter is upon us.

Eric Lofgren (c) 2009