On Frozen Pond

We had what the news reporters refer to as a “hard freeze” last night with temperatures dipping into the mid twenties and staying there until 9:00 a.m. I was dreading going out to feed and release the animals from their various compounds around the ranch. I hate being cold. The news weatherman had me shivering in my boots before I ever left the house. But Jack, Diane, Stuart, Louis, Thelma, Louise, Laverne, Shirley, and too many chickens to count, much less name were counting on me. After all, their sleeping quarters were not equipped with a wood stove and central heating as are mine. I grabbed my L.L. Bean Winter Storm Chaser coat, my stocking cap with ear flaps, and the most ridiculous rubber garden gloves. I slipped into my steel toed pink and brown cowgirl boots in the garage and out I went to face whatever lie waiting for me. The cold didn’t hit me immediately. Our house has a wrap-around porch and the full effect of the weather doesn’t hit us until we round the corner of the house. Jack and Diane were waiting at the gate for me.


We do this every morning on the way to get some crimped oats and pasture grass hay. As I always do, I asked Jack for permission to rub his nose. I had on the ridiculous green garden gloves and, to my surprise he held his nose out to my waiting hand. He never lets me touch him with gloves on.


I then asked Diana if I could rub her nose and she agreed as well. As she maneuvered into position to get her nose rubbed she intentionally kicked jack in the head. I guess I rubbed his nose a little too long. Off we went down the hill to the donkey shelter for oats and hay. I stopped to take pictures of the river that runs off from our pond. The vegetation and even the rocks were beautifully frozen.





I glanced over the berm to see that our pond was almost completely frozen over, the Canada geese weighing their options for spending the day with us or moving to ranch with a heated pool. I am not sure who has the final say but I can tell you that the discussion can get quite heated at times. They decided to stay.


I finished my photo session and headed back to the donkey shelter to serve breakfast. Neither Jack nor Diane approved of my short picture taking diversion. They are creatures of habit and our routine is apparently carved in stone.


Jack got two scoops of oats and Diane got one in separate buckets.


I moved on with my chores. First things first, the water trough was frozen over.


I tried breaking the ice with a broom handle as I usually do but it wasn’t working. I finally kicked two big holes in the ice with my boot.


I was happy to see the stream from which the emus and chickens like to drink was flowing freely.


Because the boys had dumped their water bucket and were playing with the ice.


The girl’s bucket was frozen solid with hay in it. Why do animals make such a mess of their water receptacles? Good grief. And why did Michael give the boys the pink bucket and the girls the blue one? Why are my fingers so cold that I have lost the feeling in them?


I don’t even know what happened to the spare bucket.


The chickens were anxious as always to get let out of the coop. I threw out a few handfuls of scratch and they got busy.


Stuart and Louis finished running the lap they always run in the morning and came to meet me at the barn. They share a scoop of scratch.



The emus are losing their little boy hairdos now and getting their big boy bald heads. I find that sad. I loved the funky dos. Yesterday I heard Stuart make the adult male emu sound for the first time. It is like a loud pig snort. I touched his behind to get him to move out of the doorway and he jumped and made that sound instead of his little boy whistle. It shocked us both! With their necks extended, they both tower over me now. They are still sweet and funny but definitely not babies anymore. They are ten month old, six footers!

Finally I let the goat girls out of their enclosure. They get released last because Louise (Satan) is a pig and nobody gets to eat except her if let out before the others finish eating.

They enjoy a bit of scratch too. It is a very popular treat, although not very good nutritionally.


My last task is to give the goat girls a little alfalfa mix before I head back to the house to open the last two chicken coops.


After freeing the last two coops of chickens, I came into the house frozen to the bone. I realized that the stupid rubber gloves were nearly frozen and that is why my fingers were so cold. It ran my hands under warm water for five minutes before the felling returned and I decided to wear real gloves from now on and ditch the garden gloves til spring. My next task was to add wood to the wood stove to heat the down stairs. As i walked through the living room, something outside caught my eye. Do you see it? A Canada goose is standing On Frozen Pond!


I grabbed my camera and went outside without a coat or shoes to get some pictures.

He stood looking around for the longest time. It looked so very strange.


He took one step forward and the ice broke from under him.


He swam in a little circle for a short time.


Then he began moving forward, breaking the ice ahead of him until he made it out of the pond.




How lucky am I to have a morning like this?




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Author at The Egg Farm
Let me entice you with mouth watering recipes, gorgeous food photography, and years of experience raising and breeding chickens, emus, goats, and donkeys on a small hobby ranch in northern California
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Let me entice you with mouth watering recipes, gorgeous food photography, and years of experience raising and breeding chickens, emus, goats, and donkeys on a small hobby ranch in northern California


  1. Mary, you have a wonderful life and a beautiful oasis in a hectic, crazy world. Thanks for sharing!!! I love living life, vicariously through you.

  2. Sounds like an awesome morning. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  3. The Other Mary says:

    Love getting to join you for your morning chores! You are blessed to have such a diverse group of "critters"!

  4. I'm so glad you had your camera with you. Thanks for the pictures. Loved it!

  5. Yes you are and thank you for sharing it with us!!


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