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.