Last night I went out with some friends for a birthday celebration, a night off from the mundane aspects of pet maintenance. I usually feed the dog, cats and fish, put the hens to bed in the evening, with a cheery ‘Goodnight girls’ which I don’t think they ever appreciated. My family had a turn at the pet care yesterday, they forgot to lock up my hens, leaving them vulnerable to a fox. The sight that greeted me this morning was horrific, the corpses of ‘my girls’ scattered around the garden. Everyone of them was killed by the fox. He didn’t kill them for food, just for the fun in killing them, leaving their battered bodies spread around.
My poor hens, they would always come dashing to the backdoor when anything frightened them, expecting me and the collie to rush out to defend them. Last night they must have wondered where I was, they trusted me to take care of them and I let them down, when they needed me most.
We had left their wings unclipped, so they could fly into the trees, if ever they need to, but in the dead of night, groggy from sleep, they didn’t stand a chance against the fox. Two of my hens, who always spent time together during the day, the oldest had protected the younger, who was being bullied when she first joined the flock and repaid the favour, by keeping watch on my oldest hen, as she napped during the day. I found their bodies very near each other and wonder if they tried to escape together. I hope death came quick, the devastation the fox wrecked on their poor bodies was horrible to see.
It might sound pathetic, but I’ve cried every time I’ve gone in to the garden, its strange, my garden devoid of my feathery pets. Because pets they were, I was as fond of them as my dog or cats, they had names, which they responded to and enhanced my life with their squawky presence. My garden is a sad and lonely place today.