Fox!

I have just seen a small fox slinking away from the chicken enclosures.

Naturally, the second I saw it I ran outside into what’s left of the snow (luckily I had my boots on and wasn’t just in my socks!) and am relieved to report that All Is Well. I don’t know if the chickens even noticed their visitor, though Dolly started clucking furiously once I’d finished checking the hedge. The others just wanted to know if I was brining them more warm porridge!

I don’t know if it was me running up the orchard that scared it away or if it has been before and recognised the electric netting but it was definitely going away from the chickens into the hedge when I saw it out of the window and since the chickens weren’t at all worried, I think it’s safe to assume that nothing was tried.

This isn’t the first time this winter that foxes have come a calling. On New Year’s Day, I saw a beautiful young fox, bright red and standing tall, in the pig field, right by the gate opposite the kitchen window. For about a week, the dogs had been barking furiously at something in the field but I couldn’t work on what. On that day, however, they were in the car not tied up outside as it was an extremely cold day, so the fox had no deterrent to prevent it from sauntering to just yards away from the house.

It saw us looking and vanished.

A few weeks later, towards the end of January when we had a sudden hard frost after days of drizzle, the guys heard a yelping one evening that sounded like a dog getting “bitten” by the electric fence. It wasn’t the dogs, however, as mine were with me in Cardiff and theirs was fast asleep by the fire. And it didn’t sound quite like a dog… No guesses what made the noise!

There are no rabbits in the field so the foxes tend to keep away – why come so close to the dogs when there’s nothing to eat? But, when it freezes or snows, they get desperate and desperate foxes try anything.

Thankfully, I always make sure the chickens’ battery is replaced regularly!

I’ve also got in the habit of leaving the fence on at night if it’s going to freeze, just to make sure that any visitors don’t twig that the fence is harmless if it’s switched off. I’ve learnt that from my pigs!!

Hmm, I’ve got a battery that I charged up last night. I just might give that to the chickens, just in case…

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11 responses to this post.

  1. All I can say is thank goodness that all is well and thank goodness you are on the alert with your fence. It’s too terrible what would happen otherwise. Margaret

  2. Posted by Chris on 4 February 2009 at 5:55 pm

    “It’s too terrible what would happen otherwise”

    Why should the fox be demonised? It is a wild animal attempting to live out its life, not some monster.
    Thankfully this blogger has not demonised the fox and come out with usual rubbish we get about foxes.

  3. Erm, actually, “this blogger” agrees with Margaret’s statement that the consequences of foxy playtime with the chickens would indeed have been “too terrible”.

    Lest we forget, my chickens are also attempting to live out their lives without being eaten by a hungry fox – and I’m with them 100% on that issue, no matter how hungry the fox is.

  4. Posted by Mrs B on 5 February 2009 at 8:23 am

    The fox was doing what foxes do and I’m glad that the poor hungry creature wasn’t pursued or harmed in any way. I’m also glad the chickens lived to tell the tale. What concerns me though are two other things casually dropped into the blog, one is that the dogs are either tied up outside or shut in the car if it’s cold, what life is this for dogs..confined on leashes or shut in the car, I hope and trust they are given some time in the house amongst human company? And to quote “the guys heard a yelping one evening that sounded like a dog getting “bitten” by the electric fence” well this sounds to me as though the dogs have been shocked by the electric fence in the past(and that they’re still outdoors in the evening so all this animal husbandry sounds a bit of a lotto to me.

  5. Posted by Judi Hewitt on 5 February 2009 at 9:32 am

    People like to make foxes our to be these terrible bloodthirst predators, but they’re only trying to survive like the rest of us.
    Most foxes don’t get the chance to taste a chicken dinner and most would find it difficult to get to chickens when they’re kept in well fenced off area’s
    Plus lets remember that there is more than one type of predator that will take chicken; yet you never hear about these animals in the press and on blogs; but then they’re no good for chasing after with a pack of dogs around the countryside.
    However let’s not forget that the most cruel out of control animal is mankind and he is responsible for killing billions of chickens every year. Hey! and what about those soldiers that bit the heads off chickens in Irac!
    But well done blogger for looking after your chickens; just don’t give those evil hunters an excuse to do the most horrific torture to foxes.

  6. Posted by Joan and Julian Tisdale on 5 February 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Just wish those who kept rabbits. chickens, ducks etc. had the common sense to house them safely. If you know you have foxes in your area look after your animals. Makes you look foolish to blame the fox. How often are we hearing the same old excuses… pure ignorance and laziness!!!

  7. Mrs B.

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Shame you didn’t actually take the time to read the rest of my blog. If you had bothered to do so, you would have realised quite quickly that I care deeply about all my animals and do my utmost to ensure that their needs aren’t just met but exceeded.

    The pigs and chickens live in a field near Cardiff and the dogs and I spend our days at the farm, taking care of said pigs and cooks. The guys who own the farm let me use the house to do things like go to the loo, make and eat lunch and use their internet. The dogs, however, are not allowed in the house – which is fair enough and I have no disagreements with that. On warm days, when I’m indoors or doing things with the chickens, they are tied up so they can’t run out onto the road and get run over but when it’s cold, like now, I put them in the car so they stay warm. I’m struggling to see the problem.

    Oh no, I get it. Because you didn’t actually read my blog, but shot your mouth off first, you haven’t grasped the fact that I don’t live at the farm! At night, while the pigs and chickens stay put, the dogs and I return to Cardiff, where we live with my OH and the three cats. They sleep in our bedroom.

    And yes, at some point during the evening I do indeed put them outside, even in the coldest weather, so that they can go to the loo before bedtime. Shocking, isn’t it?

    As for the electric fence, yes, that’s right. Both my dogs were foolish enough to try to get through the fence to the chciekns and both got quite a shock (if you will esxcuse the pun) in the process.

    Both dogs are confirmed chicken killers and the Jack Russell in particular would kill each and every one if I gave her half a chance: and yet, thanks to a mild and harmless shock, they keep back and leave my chickens alone, despite every instinct in the bodies telling them to go for it.

    Again, I fail to see the problem.

  8. Judi, thanks for your input – and for recognising that my chooks have needs too!

    However, ordinary fences are useless against foxes which is why I eventually opted for electric netting as other than a permanent chain link run set on concrete, it’s the only viable option and has clearly proved itself.

  9. Joan and Julian:

    If you know you have foxes in your area look after your animals.

    That’s why I’ve got the electric netting!

  10. Posted by jeanne young on 22 February 2009 at 12:48 am

    Jo, I was going to leave a comment on the drivel you wrote about and your over reaction, but i think Chris and Judie basically covered it for me.

  11. And yet you left a comment anyway?

    Hmmm.

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