My dear little daughter
I am very glad to hear that your hens are doing so well. You must have plenty of eggs, chickens & ducks for Rob & the children when they come home this summer. You know your brother Fitzhugh has a magnificent appetite, & those girls from Staunton never see a chicken. I wish I had you here to take care of mine.
I brought them many hundred miles in a coop behind my wagon & every evening at the end of the days march, would let them out, & at night they would roost on top of the wagon. They laid several eggs on the road. I have only seven hens & some days I get seven eggs.
Having no plank, I have been obliged to make them a house of twigs. I planted four posts in the ground & bored holes in each three feet from the ground in which I inserted poles for the floor, & around which were woven the branches that formed it.
There are so many reptiles in this country that you cannot keep fowls on the ground. The sides & top were formed in the same way & the whole is covered with branches with their leaves on, which makes a shady house, but affords but little protection against rain. Soldier hens however must learn not to mind rain.
I converted the coop they came in, into nests. They pick up so much corn, among the horses that I do not have to feed them & they seem quite domesticated.
I have no cat, nor have I heard of one in this country. You will have to send me a kitten in your next letter. The Indians have none & there are so many wolves prowling around us all night that they frighten away all the mice.
My rattlesnake, my only pet, is dead! He grew sick & would not eat his frogs & died one night.
You must write to me whenever you can & believe your affectionate father