Last night I went to bed and started to feel terrified. It was a really spooky, windy night. But I wasn’t terrified about the weather – I was worried about the ducks.

Our original intention with our backyard flock of ducks was to lock them up every night in their duck house. Unfortunately, after a week of that they became completely frantic whenever they would see us – quacking and fearing for their lives. So we stopped. Then we were locking them up in their shared run every night instead. But we missed a night here and there, and lately we’ve gotten altogether complacent about it.

So last night when I was laying in bed terrified, I was thinking about the ducks out there sleeping in the fenced backyard. I kept hearing my friend Denise’s farm stories run through my mind and her warning that eventually a predator will find them. I decided we really needed to lock them up again in their coop, but I would worry about that tomorrow. I told myself that I needed to just relax and go to bed. So I drifted off to sleep and dreamed about u-picking strawberries with Justin Timberlake.

This morning our neighbor knocked on our door at 6:30am to let us know two of our ducks were in his backyard, which was fine, but he just wanted to let us know where to collect them later. He mentioned he only saw one in our yard. Immediately I sprang up out of bed, threw on pants, and rushed into the backyard.

This is all that remains of Bertie. I never wanted to write a post like this. And it’s so clear that it’s all my fault. I wasn’t careful with our flock and now they had to live through a night of terror. They are even more skittish this morning.

Where do we go from here? The raccoon will be back tonight, possibly even before dusk. I hate that I rewarded a predator with food when we have neighbors on two sides with backyard chickens. I’m so worried about how determined it will be.

The ducks will be locked up tonight in their house. The chickens will have their run door closed. And the shared run will be locked up. But we have decisions to make now. When we leave town, does someone come over every morning and evening to open the duck house? Is the shared run predator proof? Do we want to really want another pile of feathers to tell us the answer to that?

Ugh. I failed them.

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Written by Renee Wilkinson