Just after hitting “post” for my last blog entry, there was a terrible noise in my front yard. it sounded like roosters fighting, except our two remaining roos have been physically separated so that they quit damaging each other. I got up and looked out the front door, and there was a fox savaging one of my hens. Oh, damn.
I ran out to chase the fox off, then ran back in to get gloves and shoes so I could dispose of the carcass. However, the carcass started trying to run away from me when I went to pick it up – my hen was injured, but not dead, and able to run from me, which I took to be a good sign. I scooped her up and took her to the back porch, where I installed her in a rubbermaid container to recover.
While I was doing that, the fox made off with four more hens. Or maybe the fox made off with the other four first, I don’t know. I do know that when I went out to round everyone up, there was a terrible racket in the bushes – the fox was doing its creepy fox-shriek, and I could see flashes of its fur through the underbrush.
I went to chase it off, as it was pretty close to the chicken coop, and there was Bobby the barn cat, standing over a hen, holding her ground against a creature three times her size, calmly swatting at the fox every time it tried to swoop in and make off with its meal. I don’t know if Bobby was protecting “her” hen, or just wanted to eat it herself, but it was pretty incredible to see her face down the fox as it shrieked and charged her, over and over. It took me a minute to get to her, as I am ungainly and the scrub was pretty thick, but I did eventually chase the fox off and scoop up cat and hen, one under each arm, to go back to the house and check for damage.
Bobby was fine, but the hen, though alive, was in rough shape, with deep puncture wounds under her one wing. She did not seem to be suffering, so I set her up in her own sick bay next to the other live hen, but she died in the night. We never found the other three hens.
So our flock has gone from 12 to 8 hens, in one fell swoop. Very disappointing. We could shoot the fox, I suppose, but I don’t know how much point there is to that, what with the skunks, coyotes, and wolves, not to mention the neighbour’s dogs. We knew there had occasionally been a fox in the yard, but it hadn’t shown itself much, and we figured the dogs being loose was keeping it from hassling our critters. Then, of course, the dogs ran off, and have been mostly tied up since, so I guess the fox got bold. I guess we’ll be looking at building more and better fences…