I first saw the fox on Friday (not last Friday, but the one before that; the blog runs about a week behind life, generally). Bird and I were coming back from a walk, and halfway down the hill I noticed something in the lawn. A face. Ears. A moment later it noticed me too, and ran into the tall grass by the garden. A fox. Five feet away from my chickens. They looked alarmed. Bird never saw it.
Before I moved here, I never saw a fox. Since I moved here, I have seen quite a few. Every time I see one I feel as though I've been given a gift. The thing is, the feeling is bittersweet. Foxes are beautiful and fascinating creatures, but I'm a farmer now, responsible for animals who definitely would have been eaten by something already if it wasn't for me. When Farmer Fin and I watched The Fantastic Mr. Fox, we realized with a sinking feeling that we kind of identified more with Boggis and Bunce and Bean. We rooted for Clooney anyway, of course. But we knew deep down that some day soon, it would be Us vs. Fox.
Fin came out later with the rifle. He waited until he saw the grass move where the fox had gone, and fired a couple times into the ground. The fox was clever and did not move. Eventually we gave up.
For a few days, we didn't see it. Perhaps it learned its lesson, we thought. Wishful thinking. On Tuesday, Fin heard a commotion from the hen houses. He saw the fox four feet from the chickens, who were yelling their heads off. He ran outside in his underwear, rifle in hand, no shoes on his feet, aimed, fired, and dropped it with one shot. The picture below is not as gory as it could be, but is probably not for the faint of heart.
I was at work, and when I came home, Fin was digging Foxy's grave. He called a local trapper who said a summer pelt was worthless, and cautioned him against mange. The fox had a cute face, but really big teeth. We felt bad, but mostly relieved that it was gone and our chickens were safe, for the moment at least.
The chickens had quite a scare, especially Celeste, who is older and wiser. Below, left, is evidence of her terrible shock.
The Egg of Terror
Farmer Fin has earned his farmy stripes this year, bringing life into the world and taking life out...all while I was stuck at my day job. All's well that ends well, I suppose.