The Day the Rooster Died

The fallen.

May 6, 2012

Dear Diary,

I didn’t see him.  I heard him.  The shrill of our beloved Rooster.  The hens explained later his valiant act.  The fox had found him in the cool, quiet morning, in the front lawn.  It was quick and merciless. The intruder had crept up behind him and pounced with vengeance.  Believing him to be dead, the fox moved on to find the hens.

It was then that the Rooster took his last strength and chased after the fox, crying out with all he had, warning the chickens of the fox’s presence.  They took cover in the trees, and watched the fox finish his job, dragging the body with him into the field.

Three remain.  The two hens and me.  The day is dark.  I am not sure which is a worse fate.  Being taken by the fox, or left with the hens.  There are times when tragedy is so great, everything inside is numb.  My thoughts are only of survival.  I will maintain high ground.

Captain Peahen

Company B

Shiloh Farms

Beloved Captain
Born: Sometime last year, maybe?
Died: May 6, 2012 on a crisp, cool morning


A Brave New World

May 5th, 2012

Dear Diary,

Shiloh was never just an outpost to me.  This is where I was born.  This was home.  They call us, “war zone chicks,” those of us born and raised in the field.  The battleground is my life.  I’m not even sure what I’d do on a civilian farm.

War Farm

I still think I see her sometimes – or hear her squawk. Denial convinces me she has only gone to look for greener pastures – that she will return soon.  But reality wakes me anew every morning with her overwhelming silence.  I only hope Mama did not suffer much.

I never knew my Papa.  He died when I was young.  He lies in an unmarked grave in the neighbor’s yard. Rumor has it that the neighbor buried him with honor, at least. All his feathers were intact.  I’m not sure if he would have received the same treatment from the leadership on our farm.

There are four of us left. The Rooster – who kindly took my Ma and I in when Papa died.  He takes his leadership over Company B seriously.  In the midst of the events of the past week, I have to say he is our great stability.  If it weren’t for him, we might have all been in the barn that night.

Two hens remain.  I’ve never been partial to the chickens to be honest. They never fully accepted Mama and I into their ranks. Kind of uppity in that regard. Not to mention they drone on with their constant chatter and they all look the same.  I can’t even tell you which two are left; only that they continue to talk endlessly and the Rooster never addresses it.  I wonder if he’s realized the threat their chit chat has to giving away our location.  At least I can fly higher.  It might be my saving grace.

Dawn is dangerous.  This we discovered today.  The Rooster and I were scavenging quietly for early morning grubs, when one of the hens let out a blood-curdling cry.  Two thoughts ran through my mind.  First, the bitter sweet hope that chicken chatter might end at Shiloh, and second that if the fox actually had got one of the hens, I would have about 3.5 seconds to high-tail it to the roof.  Which I did, only to see one of the two nondescript fowls dashing across the lawn flailing its wings, crazed eyes.  No fox.

Fire power

Moments later, I peered down under the roof and spotted one in leadership.  She wore slippers and was holding a large BB gun.  Two shots rang out, and then I saw him.  Bushy tail, slight smile.  He scampered around the house and darted down the dirt road.  The P. J. clad leader mumbled something under her breath and shut the door.  I heard bacon sizzling moments later.  Breakfast would be early this morning.

Bacon.

Four remain. The fox lives on.  But at least now we know those in leadership are willing to fight.  Everything changes when your leadership are willing to fight for you.  I only hope they move quickly.  This may still be our finest hour.

Private Peahen

Company B

Shiloh Farms


The Shiloh Farms Massacre of 2012

Dear Mother,

By now you have heard the unfortunate news.  I write to assure you of my well being, but also to share the details of the eventful night.

Our camp has been peaceful for a few years as we hold the line here at Shiloh.  Of course I’ve shared of the chicken hawk raids, though they have been few and far between.  We have lost some good hens over the years, but we have learned to use our bush barracks and knowledge of their cries and flight patterns to keep the casualty count fairly low.  You may also remember the Blue Jay assault of 2011. We were lucky to save a few baby chicks that bloody morning, but Mother, nothing compares to the events of the past week.

There was a stirring in the coop a week prior as one of the peahens had gone missing. The Calvary was staying at Shiloh and those in leadership over them closed us out of our barn.  Our leaders saw this as a problem; in retrospect it seems like Providence. I took our brood to the trees that night, and as we roosted on high ground, I heard him. He breathed heavily below us, his tongue licked his narrow lips, and his beady eyes shone in the moonlight.  I knew we were safe for the night in the trees.  The question was would he move on the next day, or wait us out? By morning the nocturnal one was gone.

The Tree Camp

As I walked the perimeter the next day I began to order the hens to make ready for moving our camp to the trees.  We would, for the safety of the company, need to keep high at night.  I had to break the news to our lone peahen of the probable loss of her mother to the fox. I walked by the garage where inside a flock of new recruits were being trained up by our best brooding hen.  I sighed with relief.  They were inside.  They would be safe.

After a few days we had relocated our camp to the neighbor’s nearby trees.  Every night I would wrestle to rest.  Every night I would hear him breathing and see his eyes staring at me, waiting for us.

The inability to communicate with those in leadership over us was the catalyst to that fateful day. I knew it was only a matter of time before they would come for us.  Egg production was down, and we were spending a great deal of time in the new camp.  It took them a few days, but they came, attempting to lure us back to base camp in the barn and lock us in.  They wanted their eggs.  We just wanted to live.

When they first put us in the barn I led the hens and peacock to the top window, our one escape route. It was a high jump for many of the hens, but I assured them it was our only option until the fox moved on. They were so brave, Mother. We were back in the trees again.

The escape route

News spread that the rabbit count at Shiloh was decreasing at an alarming rate, and the neighbor’s cat was missing.  The maniacal beast was feasting.  I was losing sleep. How could we outwit him? Every evening I would charge our company with inspiring words – if we remained strong, we would win, the fox would move on.

The next day I looked on in shock when the leadership relocated the new recruits to the barn.  The rookies did not know the escape route, and they were too young to fly. The hens were collected again and placed in the barn with the chicks. I tried to gather as many as I could to head back to the trees.  I sat in the tree hoping, at least for tonight, the beast would have been lured elsewhere.

I will not go into detail of what I heard that night, Mother.  But the next morning, as I raced to the barn, all that remained were feathers.  No one made it out.

Feathers at barn base camp

The four who remain

Four of us remain at Shiloh Farms: myself, the orphaned peahen, and two of the hens.  Our camp is eerily quiet. I crow in mourning, wondering if perhaps a few made it out and might come home at the sound of my voice. No one has returned, Mama.  We hear rumors the war will end soon.  So many have been lost already.  I remain hopeful and loyal to the cause. Pray for us.

Your son,

Rooster

Company B

Shiloh Farms