The hens are in a huddle under their roost by the heat lamp. On most days they are on the move outside, scratching furiously through dead leaves and dry grass for tidbits. But not today with the frigid temperature, the biting wind and the dusting of snow on rock-hard ground. I'm not any more fond of these conditions than they are. But I do need the time for purposeful huddling that wouldn't happen if outdoor "scratching" were possible. A to-do list waits for just such days. Maybe a few more seeds to order. The squeaky door hinge needs oiling. Parsley is saying, "Please plant me." E-mails shoved aside lose their excuses. Another book hops off the bedside stack. Applications want to be filled. Websites updated. And I can enjoy more time with the family or with visitors, absent the nagging call of some urgent farm task being neglected. Perhaps I can even take a few moments of luxury, my hands wrapped around a hot mug, dreaming of what may come yet in this growing season. Bring on the huddle.