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A week of warm February days
(really warm! In the 80’s
in some parts of Oklahoma)
and Ann has let the chickens
and guineas out of the barn
to free range.
They seem to be finding food:
grass seeds,
probably some insects
and the corn and seed I put out
for the song birds.
The fowl scratch and peck at the ground.
Two gymnastic squirrels
help themselves at the bird feeders,
chatter at the chickens and guineas
below.
Honey bees buzz around one feeder,
interested in the cracked con.
The cat that thinks it’s a chicken
watches from nearby.
Song birds stay away
until the chickens and guineas
and the cat
have moved on.
The oldest, white and brown rooster
charges across the yard,
chasing hens,
trying to round them up
into his little harem. Having spent
the last three months in the barn
with all sorts of sub-families,
they seem to have forgotten
that they belong to his flock.

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Finally,
by early afternoon,
winter shadows lengthen
in filtered sunlight
and, despite a squawking Guinea,
song birds return,
all:
Red-Winged Blackbirds,
Cardinals, Meadowlarks,
Chickadee, sparrows
the Goldfinches.
It’s 60 degrees
and climbing.