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Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Fox and the ...Guardian

There are no pix for this entry, though I tried!

We had a visit from a marauding fox this past Saturday. Tractor Guy was up early, as he often is, though I was sleeping in a bit after a long, tiring end to the week, with a 10 hour day at the store on Thursday and a short day -- both spent on my feet running like a madwoman -- the following day.

I was vaguely awake when I heard the front door open and then, after a bit, shut. I got up, intending to visit the loo and thinking that the dog had got up early and had been wanting out, but when I arose, there she was, still sound asleep on her pillow by the door.

When I got out to the living room, my favorite tractor guy was holding our buff silkie hen, who was rather upset. Apparently she had been snatched from her perch on our front porch step by the fox, and the panic calls of the fowl alerted K, who rushed to the door to see the fox making off with Little Buff. He hollered at the fox, who paused. He hollered again and the fox dropped the hen and took off across the road. K waded through the deep snow out to the baby Christmas tree from a few years ago, where the little hen had been dropped and was wandering around in a daze.

A few hours in the security of the bathtub, with her buddy Blanco (another silkie hen) and she recovered completely. Amazingly, the fox had not injured her AT ALL!

Tractor Guy's alter ego is the Guardian, though, so next morning he was up and on duty -- after a somewhat restless night on account of the predator in the neighborhood -- well before I arose at 4 AM. We both spotted the glowing eyes by the light of his large flashlight when I went out to head to work at 5 AM. Staying vigilant, he warded off three attempts by the fox to raid the flock (currently living under the front porch). The last time, shortly before dawn, he raised up his hands in a classic "monster" pose, flashlight in hand, and emitted a serious growl in the direction of the fox, before it fled.

That was Sunday, February 23. We have not see it since, though the Guardian remains on duty each morning. We have also installed a motion sensitive light above the porch, to help illuminate the area.

I know friends who have had fox and flocks issues in past years and their foxes have not just gone away; they either got killed by the farmer or became road kill nearby. However, those foxes also successfully SCORED a meal, which ours did not, at this point.

We remain vigilant, shall complete construction of the hen house that was in process when winter overtook the project, and hopefully the flock will remain safe.

They have started laying again, with most of the eggs ending up under the "liar's bench" (aka old church pew) that sits in front of the porch. One hen insists on laying in amongst some old fencing leaning up against the garage (at least she does when the snow is hard packed enough that she can walk on it to get to that "nest"... she has been laying directly on the snow and not only do the eggs freeze, and crack, but they stick to the snow and ice where they land, warm, upon being laid! Today I carried some of the rabbit's hay out there, to hopefully give some insulation.) Another forces her way onto the porch, defeating the plastic chicken fence aimed an excluding them from the outside kitty feeding area and keeping the porch clean or their droppings, to lay in the plastic tote that protects the kitty bowl from the elements. Those eggs are easy to get.

The ones laid under the porch require me to scoot under the structure to collect them. I have recently decided that going in the west end -- moving the tarp that I added as a windbreak after the bags of leaves started compacting -- was the easiest way to get all the eggs. Once I am under the porch, I can pretty easily get to both the ones laid at the west and the east ends of the bench... and now I know to look IN the leaves in one of the bags before I get on my knees to scoot under the porch.

No, I did not break the egg, though I could easily have done so. I discovered it by accident when I put my hand on the leaves to crawl out this afternoon.

Egg hunting will become a mid-afternoon event, I think. Hopefully, then, the morning's eggs will not have time to freeze and all the eggs will be laid before I collect.

Oh, "life on the farm's kinda laid back... "  LOL