Then I heard a commotion in the barn.
I wasn't entirely certain that was what I heard at first. I turned off the radio and confirmed what I was hearing was live, not recorded. And I had a moment of thinking "a hen just layed an egg, that's all it is." I disregarded the fact that just ten days ago, last summer's terrorist returned.
Luckily, I rarely listen to myself.
While racing to get my shoes tied, the noise grew louder. More panicked. I skipped my coat.
I ran into the barn and saw feathers inside the front door. Not good. Rounding the corner I saw all of the chickens huddled as high up on the roosts as they could get. The duck, who cannot roost (duck feet can't hold the bar), was up on a ledge. Everyone was screaming.
Once the lights were all on and I'd spoken quietly for a few minutes, things settled down. I observed the scene. Feathers in the coop space. Feathers in the hallway up to the door. No feathers outside the door. Hawk?
You might remember that there has been a hawk in the barn before.
Seemed likely. But as I thought about it back in the house, something didn't work. So I returned to the barn to search out more clues. And on opening the barn door, I saw a flash I did not want to see.
Wedged in the corner where the door and the wall meet was Lacey's body. I can't make the "read more" break work, so I won't post the photo. "Partially eaten" is sufficient description. Lacey was a kind, peaceful bird with beautiful feathers. You might remember that her quiet nature brought her bad luck before. She was the "lowest rung" bird -- roosting on the lowest rung of their ladder -- making her vulnerable to attack.
Now I am pissed off. You may know that I am a vegetarian. I eat no meat. But I am not entirely against eating meat for other people. I believe that animals should be quickly and kindly dispatched, and that the meat should be used up to benefit the eater.
This terrorist leaves leftovers.
So I had to go out and clean up. And make a plan.
Last night I locked up tight. Wrapped fencing across the coop doors. Left a light on. And a radio. Set the motion detector camera. Closed the Dutch door.
On awakening this morning I dressed and went straight out. At 6 am it was still dark out. But as I neared the barn, I noted that the lawn chair I leave there was knocked over. To the other side of the door, an old bicycle was knocked over. Something attempted to crawl up and over the Dutch door, but was thwarted.
Inside was peaceful. Once I assured myself that all was well, I turned off the light and returned to the house.
This is the first day of the rest of our lives.