Birds

“Feels like -40.” 

That’s the first thing I saw when I fired up my computer. 

Take that, Florida giant pythons. There will be no sneaky snake attacks on my farm. 

At least not for a few months. 

And I’m not even talking about outside. Shoot, if there was a giant snake in my front hall on a day when the wind is from the north, the draft under the front door would be enough to make him stiffen right up.  Drag him outside and you could use him for a clothesline until about May. 

Do you know how cold it’s been? Christmas Eve, Grandchild Five threw up down the side of my pickup (part of a much longer story), and it was not until January 8 that the weather was warm enough to find an open car wash so I could clean it up.  

That’s just wrong.   

No one who knows me is surprised to see me driving a grimy pickup, but even for me, this was pushing the envelope.   

And although the weather was relatively warm for January, I couldn’t open the tailgate the day after I washed it because the mechanism froze. I had to set up an electric heater and wrap a blanket around the back of the truck to thaw it out. 

Yes, I had to wrap my pickup in a blankie so it would function. 

Weather like this ratchets up the concern for all the critters who share our farm. The chickens are cooped up with one heat lamp on their waterer and another above their perch. They grumble at me every day for not letting them outside to frolic, but if I did, they’d freeze their little giblets off. I’ve explained the situation to them, but you can’t expect gratitude from a chicken. 

The inside cat lives better than I do, and the outside cats have a warm mat, food, and a heated waterer.  The little, ten-pound dog has an assortment of darling jackets to wear when she goes out. The giant, 100-pound dog has a comfy bed in the garage, but when it gets too chilly, she comes to the front door and woofs, and I let her in to sleep in the porch. 

The squirrels, rabbits, and deer are on their own. 

That leaves the birds. 

Most of my life, I’ve been aware of only four kinds of birds on our farm – ducks, geese, pheasants, and little brown ones. Because I don’t feel we have enough non-contributing animals on our farm, I made my wife a birdfeeder. It took a while to find the right spot for it, since no one who lives here is committed enough to wade through snow to fill it. We finally settled on a spot near the sidewalk and close to the picture window in the living room. As a bonus, I can see it from my office. I used to just stare aimlessly off into space as I leaned back in my chair and waited for inspiration to strike. Now, I can say I’m watching the birds. Imagine my surprise to discover the many variations of little brown birds. 

It makes me wonder what else I’m missing. What other wonders are right under my nose that go completely unnoticed? 

I sit in my warm office, a hot cup of coffee on my desk and comfy slippers on my feet and watch the tiny birds flitting about in the brutal winter weather. A regular sparrow, one of the larger birds to visit, weighs about an ounce. A nuthatch weighs about half that much. But if I keep the feeder stocked with sunflower seeds, they flourish in weather that sends grizzly bears into hibernation.   

And there’s the lesson for today. We live in a world of small wonders that we need simply open our eyes to appreciate, and true toughness comes in unexpected shapes and sizes. 

Enjoy your day. 

Copyright 2022 Brent Olson