If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same.

-Kipling

Up this morning at 2am. Another attack on the birds of the farm. I had heard the Guineas chirping while in a half sleep but since I had just finished my renovations to their pen I thought little of it. The pen is of stretched Chicken wire. There were holes but I patched them, the fence was weak in a few places and that is how we lost the chickens a few weeks back so I took 4 foot 4*4 thick gauge wire fencing and lined the entire structure with it burying it 12 inches into the ground with logs and broken glass to deter an attempt to dig under. Not satisfied I lined the exterior base with rail road ties which I then attached the chicken wire to from within side.

I did not wake up for the Guineas as I knew there would be predators that would cause them to chirp, I just had faith that they were safe in this fortified pen. Moments later I heard the three remaining ducks (of 11) begin to quack and I was up and outside immediately. I shined my flashlight and was able to see a small set of eyes and small gray body across the pond and then it was gone.

Our first attacks were dogs and there is little to do but to fortify your enclosures. This one was wild. I walked out with my flashlight to check on the ducks, gone. I walked down to the Guinea pen. The first Guinea I saw was lying in the straw wide eyed and blinking at me. As I walked around I began to see more Guineas lying in the straw which was unusual because they typically sleep in their house. I then began to see blood, feathers, bodiless wings, headless bodies. It looked like half a dozen were dead, the rest will probably die of stress or cold by this morning.

I went back to bed but could not sleep. At 4am I heard frantic duck calls and this time I got my gun. Again when I shined the light across the water I saw a small set of eyes. It was hard to make out the creature, it was so small –a rat or young possum maybe, a young raccoon possibly? I couldn’t tell, which one of those could cause so much damage? It would have to be small enough to fit inside a 3-4 inch diameter hole, there could be no larger holes in the Guinea pen if at all.

I aimed but could not get a shot off in time. I then sat on the steps of our porch and prayed about it all. I am tired of having animals killed on my watch and we have just begun this attempt at farming. In the dark, after some time I heard the ducks squawk again and I fired blindly in that direction, if I hit the duck at least it would be on my terms. I shined the light and walked to the other side of the pond. A duck gurgled in the brush as I passed, I think she wanted to let me know she was there. I moved on to find the others. When I got to the other side I looked back at the duck yard and house and saw one of the Khaki Cambles standing by the gate of the fence.

I walked back to her and she just stood there and would not move no matter how close I got. I spoke to her in a low voice in an attempt to sooth her and then I backed away and stood by in the dark with my gun and flashlight ready. At about 5am she began to call and slowly the others identified their hidden spaces along the ponds grasses. One of the ducks was across the pond and could not figure out how to cross as our ducks have not yet realized that they can swim (In fact the ducks never learned to swim or go into their house which is why this keeps happening and it frustrates me that I can not teach them these things).

It was a charming and clumsily elegant sight as the first duck walked from the gate to the other side of the pond to lead the other duck back and I watched as their two docile frames bobbled towards me in the faintest morning light. They both stood by the gate and we all waited for few moments until the other duck began to call to be led in. She was also across the pond but more directly and the other ducks did not seem to want to venture so far.

As the morning let more light out on the scene I felt that the threat had left us and laid down my gun to see if I could help this last duck. I walked slowly over to her speaking softly in a low voice, “hey duck, good duck.” As I got right to her she moved away from me a bit in the wrong direction and so I stopped but kept speaking. She stopped and then as I backed to the side of the narrow path still speaking softly she began to walk towards me. Once she passed I was able to walk her back to the others. They quite truly all began to quack loudly together and walk around and in between each other when they were rejoined. I left them then after opening the gate. At this point they can do as they like, they have earned it and until they begin to use the house or swim there is little I can do to insure their safety.

The death of these animals fills me with horror and rage. It gauls me to no end that these birds have died, and more will, while I try to learn how to do a little farming.  And for what? So I can kill and eat them myself – the most natural thing in the world. It is strange but I feel as though there is a sacred bond you develop with the animals you are going to kill for human food. I don’t fully understand it all yet but I know for certain that an intrusion to this bond is an utter violation.