It didn’t have to happen but what did I expect? I knew if I didn’t take defensive measures I’d lose them. There would ultimately be no escape because they were besieged by an enemy that had the patience of one who had felt hunger before and would feel it again.
But still. It was hard to imagine being consumed alive. Down the gullet. Inevitable, yes, but still.
Years ago in a science fiction book I read this one line that has stuck with me ever since: all things eat, all things are eaten. I wish I could remember where I read it because it is a concept I have to remind myself about all the time.
When I saw the oily slick on the water and when the mare went to drink and no fish congregated around her lips I knew all were gone. Last night they were there, this morning, sometime before I went out to feed, probably while the gentle rain fell through the gloom of dawn, a great blue heron had paused on its way south to fortify itself for the rest of its flight.
I could not begrudge the bird, and it was my fault that there were no survivors. I could have put screen over the center of the trough but I didn’t. Some of those fish were ten years and more old. Now they were calories fueling a bird.
PS — 10/16 Good news! There are a couple goldfish left. Understandably, they are unwilling to come up to a horse’s lips in search of food right now.