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.

11 comments on “Change of Plans

  1. I once had a bear break through a locked stand-alone outdoor freezer – just after I had laid in my store for winter – – I had laryngitis and chafed between the desire to rant and rave at him and wanting to grab the camera, so I could later show folks and exclaim:
    “Did you ever see such strength? He ripped the locked door loose and bent it in half with two pulls! See that glossy coat? What a magnificent specimen!”

    Sigh – –

    • I am so glad you took a couple of minutes to post this as I kept thinking every time I saw him come over the rise to our house his red fur in the sunshine was so beautiful. I wanted to do a little video showing the stealthy movement as he thought he was sneaking up on our place. Then he got close enough reality kicked in and I would run out there cursing at him, waving my arms like a mad woman hoping I had finally scared him away for good.

      It is such an oxymoron being able to enjoy the beauty of it and yet realize that it wrong and has to stop.

      I also enjoyed your stores for the winter b/c I was so irritated that those chickens represented six dinners lost. So often folks don’t realize that it is part of the equation.

      • Yes, it is so easy in our modern, centralized food system to lose our way on the enormity of lost food –

        That there are those of us who see both the tragedy and the beauty in the struggle with mother nature for our own survival I think speaks to an evolution of the human spirit that seems to have been lost since the Industrial Revolution – I hope this evolution (or a return to our natural state 🙂 ) will continue! 🙂

  2. Commiserations – that’s a heart-jumping experience, I’m sure, but at least you’re ready for Mr Fox now. Also, lucky you were around and alert else there may have been more than 3 missing. Frustrating all the same.

  3. So sad, it is that predator time of year for sure. We lost a duck to a raccoon a couple days ago, it was devastating. You can go over and over how you should have done things differently but in truth you can’t change the past, you just have to look forward. Foxes and raccoon’s both are very bad about coming back frequently once they have killed. Do you know somebody with a gun that can come for a visit?

  4. How disheartening to lose chickens to the fox. Yep, your little dog may have sensed he was about and wanted to help keep Mr. Fox away. But that’s not a fight you’d want to happen. Terriers think they are so mighty, in spite of their size! I have a Jack Russell, so I know. Hope you can keep the rest of your chickens safe.

    • This fox is very bold he took one of the hens just 5 feet from my front door. My cairn terrier will be forced to be on leash every time he goes out. My ladies will stay confined to pen and I will be making his life miserable every way I can.

    • Mr. Fox took one of the hens from 5 feet from my front door. Easy solution is no free ranging for the hens right now.I will also be watching for him and you can bet I plan to make his life miserable every way I can. If I knew where he was denning up right now I would be there disturbing his home so he would be moving on.

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