Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Fox Conundrum

My brother's name is Todd which is of English origin meaning  "Fox". I found this cute little red fox for his birthday on Etsy from a lovely studio that creates block prints, etc.

As you may know, we have chickens. Adorable. Cute, perky, fluffy little chickens.  First we had 6, and my dog killed three.  Then we bought 6 more darling Rhode Island Reds which were thriving.  We even fortified their coop and yard; extending chicken wire up 7' and their little fortress seemed insurmountable.

The little pullets liked to go inside their box to hide from the big bossy older hens......

Then Monday this week, we had 7 chickens, and a trail of black and white feathers across the street into the woods.   Then the next day we had 6 then 5 and then we had one chicken with a maimed foot and a wound in her side and a pecked out eye.   We took her into our house, and for the last 5 days I have been caring for her in a box....poor thing.

We threw sheets up over the coop to try to secure it for a couple of days until Joe could get out there and build an extended roof over the entire area.   But every morning we had 1 or 2 less chickens.  I was sick in my heart.

Wednesday morning I saw our neighborhood hawk that we have affectionately named "Watchman" circling above my backyard; landing on neighboring trees and watching.  So I told him in an elevated voice to never touch my chickens again.  He flew away.

But we really feel like it is a fox or a raccoon.

Wikipedia says this:

Foxes are omnivores.[8][9] The diet of foxes is largely made up of invertebrates. However, it also includes rodentsrabbits and other small mammalsreptiles, (such as snakes), amphibians,scorpionsgrassesberriesfruitfishbirdseggs, dung beetlesinsects and all other kinds of small animals. Many species are generalist predators, but some (such as the crab-eating fox) are more specialist. Most species of fox generally consume around 1 kg of food every day. Foxes cache excess food, burying it for later consumption, usually under leaves, snow, or soil.
Backyard Chickens says this:
Red Foxes are generally considered to be the most serious predator of free range poultry. The safest option known in poultry protection is to keep the flock and the fox physically separated, usually with fencing. A fence needs to be at least 2 m high to keep out most foxes, though on some rare occasions, a determined fox might succeed in climbing over.[40] Surplus killing will often occur in enclosed spaces such as huts, with discarded feathers and headless bodies usually being the main indicators of fox predation.
Then there's good ol YouTube:

Yep, I would say Ol' Mr. Fox is quite agile, and quite able to scale the walls we thought would keep out the wildlife around....

So, tonight we have 1 lonely little Rhode Island Red Pullet in my tiny doggie kennel in the laundry room.  Old Mr. Fox is not going to get her!  And sitting beside her, in a large cardboard box, is the other hen, still recovering from her attack Tuesday night.  They probably are enjoying the cool AC as it has been quite hot outside.

Ah, sometimes living in the wild is so very......wild, you know?   I told my husband I would shoot the fox (which heretofor I proclaimed I loved) but now he is just getting a little too close to home....Joe informed me that the fox is an endangered species, and so it would be hard to kill it.

We really need an outside dog to again be the sentry that we once had when Champ was still alive.

That's what is happening at the Taylor Homestead.  What is happening in your neck of the woods?

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