Change of Plans

Today I had a visitor.   Mr. Fox came into my yard at 11 and by the time he left 15 minutes later I had lost three of my chickens.    I can’t tell you how frustrated and angry I was.     After years of having a working rule that my chickens never free range before 10, I learned that life happens.  It made me frustrated.    I also was reminded to listen and that life and death are only a few breaths apart.   It made me angry.

Today I was busy with work and I did not spring the birds until quarter to 11.   My little terrier went out with me.   He was constantly sniffing the air, and spending time marking.   I became impatient with him.   I had work that was waiting and scolded him telling him I had no time for this doggie nonsense.  (in retrospect these were signs I should have recognized as something not right that I missed.)   The dog and I headed inside and settled in my office.   Just 15 minutes later I heard what sounded like my chickens heading by my office window making noises that told me something was not right. I headed out leaving the dog inside, instinct told me this was not a place for my little dog with a big heart.  I found the chickens all in the coop on high roosts.   I counted them up and realized I was missing three birds.   I would find two of the three carcasses.  The fox spent the rest of the day coming back and challenging me for more birds.  I kept them in their run, but was constantly checking on their safety to ensure the fox did not breach that barrier.   To be honest if I could have ensured a clean shot I would have eliminated the varmint.   Unfortunately I did not have the skill or tool to do so.  So I am going to be fighting this battle for days to come fox vs. chicken safety.

We were planning on butchering this weekend.   As a result of the birds I lost, my plans for what I will keep and what will go to the freezer has changed.   The fox got the barred rock, the dark Brahma, and the Norwegian Jaehorn.     I now plan to butcher the leghorn, the austrolorp and the silver laced wyandotte.   We will keep two speckled Sussex, buff Brahma, buckeye, buff orpington and Easter egger.   A couple of them look like they may be going into a molt.   If so I may keep less than six.

I wish I had felt I had the time to photograph Mr. Fox.   His coat was beautiful and truly a handsome specimen. I would love to be sharing that with you.    But my job was to protect my little flock of livestock.   So I screamed, chased and threw rocks.    My dog barked and marked.  I suspect that this will be my job for days to come.   My plans for my flock have changed all because of a visit from Mr. Fox.