Our chickens were killed last night. I donned my Wellington boots as usual to lock them away for the night at about 8.30 and strolled into the darkness. I sensed something wasn’t quite right and my torch confirmed the worst. A hungry fox, lured further away from its usual patch by the frosty grounds I reckon, had left two hens dead and another one twitching and mortally injured scattered over the lawn. Feathers were everywhere. A fourth chicken, either Hetty or Bella, had vanished; as I inspected the carnage, Mr Fox was, I’m sure, heading back to its hole with one of our old girls in its snout. Our idyllic egg-collecting, chick-stroking days are at an end and it is terribly sad. I’ve never really been one to get too emotionally attached to animals but I did love Hetty, Bella, Pasty and ‘Grey’ to bits. We were only remarking yesterday what lovely characters they had become. We’re all really shocked by this abrupt end to these gorgeous creatures’ short lives.