At first we couldn't find the other bird and I was desperately hoping she was simply scared and had flown off to hide. I looked high and low several times during the day but could not find her. It wasn't until Jon returned home from work that we found her, hidden away but still a victim of the same raccoons. It was a sad day in the yard. The remaining red was sadly hovering over the body of it's deceased friend and my cat sat nearby meowing all morning long. She didn't even leave the yard today. All the chickens, even the nasty Wyandottes, were solemn and skiddish.
The guilt comes in when the reason for this loss is explained. That night, the night they died, we had not locked them into their coops. The Wyandottes prefer to roost in the coop and we've never seen them leave the coop before morning. However, we knew for a fact that from time to time if we didn't shoo them in, the reds would roost outside. We knew that the best way to keep them safe was to lock them in their coops at night. We had forgotten to lock them one night in the summer and they all were well and good. And then it happened again and again they were fine. Sadly, we were forgetting more than remembering. I'm so sad that our laziness cost us these birds. We are now renewed in our resolve to be the best stewards possible to these creatures. We've locked them in at dusk and done several checks during the night to make sure the coops are safe and uncompromised.
I'm not sure yet how this loss will affect April. She was very young when our pet guinea pig died and since then hasn't been faced with much loss. I'm not sure she has noticed that our flock is less two birds. At her age, I'm not ready to tell her that they were killed just to bring it to her awareness. However, should she ask where the other red chicks are, I will carefully explain that they are gone and answer her questions as truthfully as I can. Loss is going to be a part of her life on our little homestead. It's going to be a part of the lives of us all. It's important to acknowledge it and respect it but life is brief and cyclical so it is also important to continue on. We can learn from our mistakes, we can keep the memories but not dwell. This loss has made us more vigilant but I don't think it will make us fearful. I'm sorry little birds that your life ended this way but we won't forget our mistakes and we promise to protect your companions as best we can.