Freeze Warnings

Over the past few hours we have frantically put ourselves on the front lines in the battle against a red alert freeze warning. Our main concern is the new batch of broilers we just had moved outside into the goat barn. Only a week old, the 51 chicks had already become crowded in the horse trough we use as a brooder.

Using old sleeping bags, we covered as much of the 6 ft. by 8 ft. dog kennel as possible. As we moved plants inside we discussed our efforts with hopes that the covering along with the lights will be sufficient for the chicks to survive. In all, a snow fence was affixed to the dog kennel, and then she attached galvanized roofing panels to the outside of that, and then the blankets and sleeping bags were draped over the whole thing to try to keep them warmth through the night.

Despite the concern and worry, Rebecca came back to the house from her garden in complete ecstasy. Once again her little jewels, tiny yellow warblers, were there to keep her company. The warblers, with their intense hyper activity, rarely stay put for long, and she said her efforts to capture images of the little birds with her phone were nearly impossible.
Since I am still smarting from not having my camera on the listening bench in the pathway through the grove a couple of weeks ago, I eagerly volunteered to bring my camera to the garden to see if I would have any luck. She was right. The warblers dart here and there, one second on the frame of a raised bed, the next on a cattle panel, then off to the edge of the prairie. We counted three. Perhaps there were more. Their name tags, if they wore them, were much too small to read!

For a half hour we sat in the lowering sun to watch as they flew in and away. Rebecca was nearly mesmerized. As much as I love our life on the farm, my love pales in comparison to hers. Warbler sightings and accompaniment are part of that love she has for the farm. I captured a nice picture of her as she sat watching the warblers.

Rebecca watches the warblers at the foot of her garden.

Rebecca watches the warblers at the foot of her garden.

For me, it was almost as comical as if I were doing a Whack-A-Mole. “Oh, there’s one!” she’d say. “Oops.”

Living jewels are indeed fleeting.

“Oh, look! By the bale!” Bingo.

By the bale.

By the bale.

Fortunately the warbler bounced from in front of the bale to the lower frame of a raised bed, then skirted that more deftly than an acrobat can balance on a thin train rail. It skittered along to hop onto some of her cattle fencing. Another warbler swept in, and a third … which took a perch on the erected fence panel itself — gave us a fine show. Her garden jewels were shining all over the place.

Like all good shows, this one had to come to an end. We headed back to the house excited about our short adventure, although about halfway there thoughts of the impending freeze warning emerged.

Despite the dire possibilities, I had to smile. Are we becoming farmers? People who cannot have a conversation without worry creeping in? Years ago I did a story on a woman farmer near Gluek for the sole purpose of portraying a happy farmer. I hadn’t known her for very long, yet her conversations were constantly filled with wonder, fine accomplishments of simple tasks, descriptions of her growing crops, and usually concluding with a report of riding around her farm on her horse as a sunset approached. Every conversation was somehow positive.
And here we are on our own farm facing a freeze warning. When we go to bed tonight I’m sure we’ll both think of the chicks spending their first night in the “wilds” of the goat barn, huddled beneath lamps inside a large dog kennel covered with old sleeping bags to hopefully retain the heat. Yes, there is that. I’m also guessing we’ll both have smiles, too, as we recapture those precious moments in the garden with Rebecca’s jewels … those beautiful little yellow warblers!

This entry was posted in He Said by John G. White. Bookmark the permalink.

About John G. White

Somewhat retired after a long award-winning career in newspapers (Wisconsin State Journal, Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, Denver Post and a country weekly, the Clara City Herald). Free lance photographer and writer with credits in more than 70 magazines. Editor with various Webb Publishing magazines in St. Paul, and a five year stint as editorial director at Miller Meester Advertising.

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