The first rays of the morning sun glistens across the frost covered barnyard. One by one the cows are let out of the barn after being milked. They gather around a large round bale of hay and eagerly toss their heads in anticipation.
A flock of sparrows and starlings are joined by a dozen fat pigeons as they scurry to pick up any small seeds dropped from the loose hay.
The ground isnít frozen yet and the barred Rock hens scratch through the loose dirt at the sunny end of the hen house. They cluck with pleasure as they gobble down every worm or beetle they uncover.
The barn cats huddle shoulder to should around a dish of fresh milk set just outside the milk house door. This morning they are joined by a guest for their farm fresh breakfast. Nuzzled in between them and lapping up the milk is an opossum.
The late season warm weather has kept Mr. Possum from hibernating and he is constantly searching for an easy meal. His pink bare feet and nose surely feel the sting from the frosty ground but the pain in his empty stomach is sharp and getting something to eat is all that matters to him. Eagerly eating his fill, he waddles across the grass along the creek. This morning he was lucky. Not only did he get a warm breakfast but he did it without the dog spotting him. The border collie is curled up in the straw at the far end of the barn. She wonít leave the barn until the last cow steps outside.
The possum knows what it takes to survive when the weather gets cold. His resourcefulness, although quite daring, has helped him get through another day. Sometimes he is caught between wanting to sleep and wanting to eat and the bitter cold may burn his tender exposed skin. Last winter his ears and the end of his tail were nipped short by the frost.
Stubby tailed possums are a common sight here in the north. Itís going to be colder tonight and the possum will find a warm place under a pile of old wooden fence posts. If it stays cold he will sleep here until another warm spell stirs his hunger. It may be only a couple of days or it may be a month or more before the warm temperature awaken him. He no doubt will remember where he got a free meal of warm milk.
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