Something was wrong though in my befuddled state I couldn’t work out what it was. All I knew that I had just been woken. There was no noise, not really. Nothing untoward as such. So I lay back expecting to drop off to sleep again, wanting to drop off but something in my brain was on high alert. I lay on my back listening.
There I caught it.
A semi crow croak sound.
"Stupid chickens! It’s the middle of the night!"
But this wasn’t the right sort of noise. This was wrong.
I carefully got out of bed and tripped down the stairs to the landing whose window overlooked the wood wherein lay the chicken huts.
I drew the curtain to one side and peered myopically out.
"Bugger, haven’t got my glasses...."
I peered harder anyway but as expected I couldn’t see a thing, it was too dark but I knew it wasn’t right.
Padding swiftly down the hall, careful not to wake the children, I wended my way to my husband's room.
"Charlie wake up. I think there’s a fox in my chicken coop...."
The sense of urgency in my hurried whisper had him awake in seconds. No arguing for once.
I scurried down the stairs and grabbed my boots from the cupboard, snatched a coat from a hanger and as quietly as I could opened the back door. By the time I was half way across the drive Charlie was with me torch and hockey stick in hand.
We shone the torch in an arc round the huts but there was nothing out of the ordinary. Then the light caught a white shape under the Victorian Coop. Definitely a chicken and very definitely dead.
Could it have just been this one solitary chook that woke me?
Knowing and not wanting to know I stretched foreword my hand to the hut door, pulled back teh bolt and shone the light inside.
Oh my god!
It was scene of utter carnage but no noise. Dead and dying chickens everywhere, feathers lazily settling on the slatted floor and the utter silence. As I glanced about I saw Rufus my enormous Silver Grey Dorking Cross rooster slumped on the floor, I thought he was dead too but he raised his battered head to give out a low croaky squawk – the very same sound that had woken me only a few minutes previously.
He continued to utter his muffled alarm. Struggling to rise and slumping back to the floor again and again. I flicked the light of the torch round the hut once again and then I saw it.
A big brown vixen - it had to be a vixen for there was no tell-tale stench that I would expect from a dog fox.
She looked dazed and glazed, not scared at all. Her muzzle was coated in gore and feathers; I’d obviously disturbed her feast.
She was sated like she had been on drugs. High and not likely to come down soon.
You see foxes do not kill just the one thing; they kill the lot in a blood lust but they do it silently - a swift nip to the back of the head and the chicken is dead.
One after the other.
And the more they kill, the more they want to kill beyond any hope of just a single meal. They will kill till all is dead and nothing survives. Till the hunger that drove them to the chicken coop in the first place raises its head and then they feast there and then or until they are disturbed.
And the chickens dozy in the night cannot fight back. Trapped in the hut there is no escape. Chickens have no night vision, they are utterly vulnerable.
So I shouted at her.
"Get out! Get out! Get out! You horrible beast! Bugger off!"
Then, only then she snapped out of her blood induced stupor and she started to get bothered but she couldn’t escape running from one side of the hut to the other confused by the feathers everywhere, the devastation hiding her escape. Jumping into a nesting box to hide from the light. Then running across the back of the hut to nose at the doors to try to force her way out and away.
"Get her out! Get her out! I want her out now!"
I don’t know what Charlie did but the fox found an escape and I could finally relax - sort of relax.Relax to survey the carnage - and note that there were chickens alive, overlooked by the fox.
But there were so many dead, and so many dying….