I post with a heavy heart, tearful eyes, and a sorrowful soul. Copperhead is gone. She came to me very late in February as a hatchling. Here she is up front in a picture I entitled Bird Bowl 2018, with her original 5 brothers and sisters, my first chickens: I was so inexperienced that I didn't even know what a Cornish Cross was when I bought the two you see with her. I just wanted the experience of raising small, medium, and large chickens and the CC's were described to me by the feed store employee as large white chickens and he was correct. I wouldn't change it, but I wouldn't do it again with the CC's. I can tell you they make excellent heat lamp replacements. Copper's temperament was outstanding. She lead the flock with a peaceful determination and grace I was unaware chickens could possess. Nickelback, shown next to her in the above picture, was her hatch mate and fellow Easter Egger. The first time Nickel was put to bed with the little, whiney bantams, she took one under each wing and held them there until they went to sleep. Even Nickelback's fierce, take charge, hackle-ready ways were no match for Copper's quiet, steady leadership. While Nickel literally runs headlong into all situations, Copper quietly observed and carefully approached; we were kindred spirits in this respect. I had eggs by June and everyone was astonished, if not unbelieving. I couldn't have been more proud. Copper took her place next to our flock master cock (belongs to my brother and sharing same property), holding the same dignity with which she approached all things; Nickel at her side. They each laid a beautiful green egg everyday, Nickel's with a golden hue and Copper's a bright teal. Here are Copper's first four eggs: As you can see, that escalated quickly! Life continued and I succumbed to the proverbial 'chicken math'. Even after reading all the BYC warnings against incubating pullet eggs, I wanted to learn about incubating and I wanted Copperhead's babies. What if something happened to her? What if I never got to see her babies? Incubating was a success and there are two batches of her babies growing out now. The last hatched will go on Friday to a new flock to ensure her genetic proliferation outside of our flock. I'm sure you will recognize the copper head: Copperhead accepted my attentions, but preferred that I remain hands-off. She was always ready with a wing flap for my entertainment and amusement: "They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." On 09/17/2018, I was on my own here at the homestead which almost never happens. Many variables were in play including the first night I had arranged outside accommodations for all the babies. I opened the coop late which meant the older birds settled on top necessitating the removal and replacement of each inside. I always took Copper in last. I would never forget Copper, right? Babies crying...an escaped horse looking for bird food...anxious dogs wanting their dinner...it was all too much. I went inside to collect myself and feed the dogs with only Copper and the 2 ducks and 2 geese left to complete my bird day. I forgot Copper. The next morning, it didn't hit me right away. When I opened the coop, everyone poured out all at once. It was odd as they usually each have their own way of greeting me and the day. I continued with my ministrations; unaware. It began to dawn on me mid-morning. The lingering question taking form like a dark cloud in my mind. I prepared a cold treat as it was a particularly hot day. I took out the treat and when Copper didn't show, panic set in. I was frantically reviewing all the places and possibilities as DH showed up unexpectedly with a stunning, shiny, fluffy, clean, well fed, friendly (seriously, it hopped in the passenger seat and laid down) white bantam cochin rooster he found wandering the street. Bringing it to me had made him late for an appointment. It was unceremoniously plopped into my arms and he drove away. The rooster accompanied me in my search. I found what was left of Copperhead behind the coop: a huge mound of feathers trailing off into the woods. There was no blood, no parts, and no other clues. I followed until I was bloody from the briars and stopped. Only after I emerged did I begin to remember the events of the previous night, which brought the realization of my neglect. I left the evidence for DH to pick up the trail, after which I picked up every feather I could find through my tears. DH found nothing at the end of the trail. My best guess is a racoon. Copperhead is gone. Today I picked up what I believe will be the last feather. It is a beautiful breast feather accented with salmon against her silver. I pulled her last egg from the refrigerator and created this final memorial picture with the condensation a fitting representation of my tears: Nickelback did not lay today, nor did she accompany the cock. Sometimes she just stood frozen in place. I will do my best to comfort Nickel. I will institute a role call in Copperhead's honor. Everyone will be checked off by name each evening, with her name and notable absence acknowledged upon commencement. Goodbye Copperhead. We will meet you 'in the morning' on that beautiful shore.