Lessons From a Resident Fox
|Photograph by Chris Mazzarella|
The chickens rejoiced this morning as I opened their chicken coop door, inviting them to come out into the yard. For two weeks, they have been sequestered to their chicken coop 24 hours a day as a result of a breach of contract between us and the resident fox. Ever since we have lived here, a family of fox takes up residence just off our fence line every summer. We watch, as they raise their kits, catching field mice to feed them. The kits run and play in the fields, watching us as we watch them. This spring, Chris Mazzarella, spent a morning photographing them as they came and went from their den in the pasture. He was enthralled by them and their antics.
Our neighbors are not so enchanted by the family of fox, as every summer; the fox become a nuisance to them and their fowl. They wonder how we can raise a flock of 50 meat birds, and have free range chickens without any losses due to the fox. I tell them that we have an unspoken agreement with the fox family. They may have one chicken a year, and that is all. The rest of their food must come from the abundant supply of rodents that live in the fields. This year, the fox broke their contract and began attacking our chickens! In broad daylight, and right under our noses, they would come into the yard and make their attack. I think they only successfully killed one chicken, though there is a suspicious pile of feathers by the road.
After three attacks, we decided it best to leave the chickens in their coop for a couple of weeks. I hope that the fox family has found a new source of food, and will stay away. The chickens are rejoicing at the opportunity to once again, roam the garden for bugs, and to take dust baths. Tess, our border collie, is on fox duty today. I told her to stay on guard and alert us to any activity. I suppose I cannot complain, as we have had many years of no fox attacks. We just let our guard down a tad too much, feeling rather cocky and confident that our fox would obey the rules. Perhaps the fox felt a need to teach us a lesson in humility.