The six hens sing and crowd up to the pen doorway when they see me coming. Unable to disobey their request for treats, I always bring a scoopful of scratch feed or scraps from the kitchen. If I let them out and dash across the lawn, they all run after me as if there is some urgent reason to follow my feet. When I stop, the feet are suddenly of no interest, for they immediately start scratching in the lawn and pecking at bugs.
The weather here has been 8—10 degrees colder than normal the past week or more. Snow stuck on the lawns and roofs last Friday; this is unusual enough to be an insult.
By Sunday afternoon the snow was gone and the sun warmed a few areas of the yard, though it was cold in the shade. (I must make a new pen because the current one is in a dark, damp side of the yard.) When I let the chickens out, they immediately began sunbathing, pressing one side of their bodies into the lawn while extending the opposite side’s wing and leg, necks stretched out, looking like dedicated tanners or hens in the last act of a convulsive death.