On the Eve
came the Christmas promise:
Let it Come.”

We have entered the Christmas season:
twelve days of receiving…

On the Tenth Day of Christmas
we received
a flash of big feathers—
the answer to our chicken dilemma.
While the latter days of November
and first days of December
were cold,
we have had a string of warm, sunny days
and the chickens love so much
to be in the pasture
scratching around
that I can hardly stand to keep them
in the barn.
There is mild disagreement around here
about this practice.
As owls and hawks have less to eat
in the winter,
the chickens are in more danger.
But, I have reasoned,
owls sleep in the day—
and the neighborhood Red-tailed Hawk
seems to hang out to the south.
Then, yesterday morning,
I looked out the dining room doors
at the exact moment a Red-tailed Hawk
attacked a Dove,
poking around on the ground
under the Hackberry tree next to the alpaca pasture
into which I’d let out the chickens earlier.
The dove flew away.
The hawk flew up into the Hackberry
and sat, watching.
I don’t begrudge the Red-tail Hawk
a meal.
But I don’t want the meal to be
one of our chickens
(even the rooster, who—still—
attacks me. Just the night before
he had decided to roost outside.
It was tempting to leave him out,
but eventually we got a flashlight,
went out,
grabbed him
and put him safely in the barn.)
When I noticed the hawk,
the chickens were all in the barn.
This is unusual; usually, during the day
if the barn door is open,
they are outside.
I simply shut the door
and decided
that was probably their last day outside
until spring.

The Tenth Day of Christmas
we received
what we needed
to keep the chickens safe
for the winter.