Mitts? Check.

Headlamp? Check.

Everything else? Check.

I step outside. The temperature isn’t too cold, warmer than previous years but not outrageously so. I can see the stars twinkling overhead.

Despite the fact that the sun is now completely set, I can still see reasonably well with the starlight reflecting off the snow – and the headlight might help.

I walk across the yard to the feed house. The feed house is a back room to the chicken coop. This is where we keep the dog food, chicken feed and buckets.

I scoop a yogurt containers full of dog food and head off down the driveway to where the animals are. Chance, our house/yard dog, wondermutt, races off ahead of me, making sure the coast is clear.

We have a very long driveway, around half a kilometre long. The animals are located in two pens, one on either side of the road. Cows and horses are in one, while the goats and Orso, their livestock guardian dog, are in the other.

Orso was a rescue dog. This means that if we hadn’t come along and adopted him, he would have been put down. He was a tad bit aggressive for city living. I’m a little fuzzy on details of the incident but, suffice it to say that I’m more comfortable when there is a fence between us.

I dig in my pocket and bring out a small chunk of bread. He sees it and starts wagging a tail. I learned early on that he can easily tell the difference between food and a twig, no matter how tasty looking.

I toss the chunk of bread over the fence and, as he runs off to get the bread, I quickly stick my arm through the fence and dump the container full of dog food into his dish. I’m quick about retracting my hand before Orso gets back.

Setting the container beside the road, I walk over to the hay stack. I don’t always wear the headlight and therefore spend quite some time trying to find the twine so that I can actually lift the hay bales. Tonight, with the headlamp, it takes me a far shorter time.

I stacked two bales into the wheelbarrow. The snow is hard packed enough that the tire doesn’t sink too much, which is lucky for me because some of these bales are awfully heavy.

Half of one bale goes to the goats. I leave the other half beside the fence for tomorrow. The horses and cows get an entire bale.

Cows sure seem to eat an awful lot.

On the way back, I take a minute to lay down and look up at the stars. Hearing a snuffling sound beside me, I look over and see Chance snuffling around in the snow. Looking for horse turds most likely.

I can’t feel my ears or nose anymore, so it’s probably time to go inside. I look over at Chance, he’s just chewing on a stick.

Until the next time…

Graham Rudge can be contacted at graham_on_fire@yahoo.ca.