Small feet that grip at my fingers when I coax their small bodies to the rooster. Small feet that scratch at the still frozen earth in the morning, ritual over reward. Small breathing when I soak their small feet to treat an infection. Small pecks to tell me I’m doing it wrong. Small blinks, wrapped in a towel, wrapped blanket of catatonia. Bored by my worrying, the chickens get antsy. They run from my open hands. More often than not, I grasp at the pine shaving where they once were, too quick for me. Deceptively tough, I still think of their fragility before I lunge in quick frustration.
This is each morning of owning chickens. Seeing the small wonders of my stewardship balance itself against the small wonders of the indifference of their natural habits against the indifference of infection and disease against indifference of the ever-colder dawn.