She stopped at the coop door and frowned.
A water line had been run to the coop, and included heaters.
Even the chicken coop was visible at this elevation.
As Carmen glanced around the coop for something to use as a weapon, one of the chickens ricocheted off the wall and hit her head.
The excitement at the coop had cost Alex his chance to watch a birth, but he accepted the loss in good humor.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a cacophony of squawks and wings beating against the chicken coop walls.
Carmen pulled the coop door shut and the fox snarled around the hen, backing deeper into the corner.
He grabbed the hen by the wing and headed for a sliver of light shining through the coop door.
In an instant he entered the coop and pushed Carmen back, putting himself between her and the fox.
Waving his hands, he yelled and the fox darted out the coop door - without the hen.
She left him in the coop with the chicken and marched across the yard to the house, her boots making sucking noises each time she lifted her foot from the mud.
"It looks like our Mr. Cleary flew the coop," Fred said reluctantly.
She leaned against the chicken coop and stared down at the house.
The coop was a comfortable 48°F - warm enough to keep the eggs from freezing, but cold enough that the chickens didn't get shocked by the temperature change when they went out of the coop.
By the time she reached the chicken coop, her fit of temper was mellowing.
Alex handed her the basket of eggs and closed the coop door.
It took an instant for her eyes to adjust to the dim coop interior, and then she found herself staring into the desperate eyes of a red fox.
The rest of the chickens were flogging all over the tiny coop, bouncing off the walls in a state of panic.
The chickens fought for position in the tiny coop door as they watched her pour a bucket of water into the tire.
In Java the new-born babe is placed in a hen-coop, and the mother makes a clucking noise, as if she were a hen, to attract the child's soul.
Even the old chicken coop was empty, replaced by the new one Alex had built out back.
"It looks like they did a good job," he said, shutting the coop door and turning to her.