I remember my mother reading me many stories when I was little. In a lot of the stories that included a fox, the fox is the bad guy. The fox has been included in many stories, cultures, songs and more from Jimmy Hendrix’ “Foxy Lady” to Dr. Seuss’ “Fox in Socks”. The fox has a storied past for all of us and brings to light many various characteristics. The fox may be admired by some, may be feared by others, and for some, like myself at the moment, may be on a hit list.
You may remember my past blog about our recent move and the care that went into moving all our animals, including many, many new chickens. I was thrilled to get to our new farm and eventually let our meat birds range within the grass pasture. I utilized a moveable coop that I gleamed from a visit to Joel Salatin’s place and loved seeing the meat birds out in the grass pasture. I built the moveable coop with a strong gauge of chicken wire and 2″ x 4″ boards. I’m not the best judge of weight but this coop was heavy enough to where it took some effort to move it over the pasture.
It was a nice night out with the stars shining brightly and the moon beaming like a beacon in the night. I walked out of my main chicken coop and took a route past the meat birds in the movable coop. They were settled in for the night, hardly making a peep so I continued into the house and turned off the lights. I am typically up pretty late at night working on this or that and this night was going to be just that – a late one. Later this particular evening I got up from my desk and walked out the back door of the house. The stars and the moon were still shining brightly and I could see just a little movement within the meat bird coop. Silent night – all is calm, all is bright.
When I woke up the next morning I headed towards the coops, as I always do. As I got closer to the meat bird coop, I couldn’t see the chicks immediately. Strange, I thought, they must all be laying down yet. As I got closer my mindset changed. Hmmm.. That’s weird, they must have gotten out somehow. Given my typical craftsmanship this certainly was a possibility. Maybe they are behind the coop. As I got to the coop itself, my worst fear was realized – my chickens didn’t just get out, something took them!
All 16 chickens, gone. The reality of the situation set in quickly and I began to scan around the coop. I noticed what looked like the beginnings of a burglar’s attempt but I had seen that same scratching marks the day earlier. At the time I dismissed it as being from our young puppy. Around the opposite side of the coop I spotted the point of entry the thief took. I was very puzzled as the “route” under the coop was only about four to five inches wide. This entrance/exit was also very shallow measuring only a few inches deep. As I scanned inside the coop from the top through the chicken wire I saw only one small drop of blood and two tiny white feathers.
The coop measures eight feet by eight feet so I have a four feet by eight feet sheet of plywood as part of the roof to offer the birds cover from the rain and sun. The coop itself is only about 24″ to 30″ high. It was there, on the half roof of the coop, in plain sight for all to see, the reason that I now wage war on bad, bad, Mr. Fox. I can understand a fox needs to eat. I can understand a fox needs to feed its pups perhaps as well. For this particular fox to leave his calling card atop of my coop was, quite honestly, rude.
I know I have said this before in my past chicken trials, but I should have known better. I should have known that bringing a bunch a chickens to the farm would make us the talk of the town amongst the predators in the area. I can just hear them now, sitting around the coffee shop in the woods, you the know, the regulars reminiscing about the good ole’ days when they had the run the land and now all these humans were coming in to their territory. I can just hear Roxy the Raccoon behind the counter, pouring coffee to Fred the Fox and Colt the Coyote, telling them she saw a new family move in with a bunch of chickens. Fred the Fox has always been trouble maker in town so he quickly decided he was going to be the first to introduce himself. Colt the Coyote was older so he was going to let Fred take all the risks he wanted to. “Thanks for the tip Roxy,” says Fred as he puts down not his usual one mouse as a tip, but two mice as an extra thank you. He brushes his black socks and struts out of the diner.
I have seen Mr. Fox five times now during different hours of the day with most instances from 1:30pm to 4:30pm. I have seen him on my bike and run route, I have seen him while driving through town and now, most recently, in my yard as he just took one of our layers that was taking a stroll around the front yard. Before he was sneaky – now he is bold. Well bad, bad, Mr. Fox, you, as Joel would say, are infringing on my chicken-ness. If you feel like taking more chickens from my farm, come and get them. Just don’t plan on leaving.