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Posts Tagged ‘fox’

It was a busy and difficult spring (I won’t mention the summer, as it seems it has not yet arrived here in North Devon!)… The terrible sadness of deaths and of infuriating fox visits, mixed with the joy of new arrivals and of all the many chores as well as copious amounts of new learning that comes with our young project, has kept me from writing as I would like. I know with running a smallholding I will have to come to accept the good with the bad sooner or later, but it is hard I must say; Ralph and Gisela both having had a much longer experience of this hard fact of life, with the many, many, animals they have given sanctuary to, previous to Ralph & I starting The Little Devonshire Victory Garden & Farm Animal Utopia Project.

It’s just heart wrenching when they become ill and we can’t save them. And then there’s the fox which has become very bold. It’s especially daunting since we already have several safety measures in place… We’ve been letting the chickens free-roam most of the “warm season”, but more recently have had a few bouts with a couple of girls go missing each time. So after the last attack a couple weeks ago, we finally decided we had to kept them in their enclosure (an area of field around their house made predator safe by a 100 metre electric fence),  letting them out only when we were nearby. This is actually a hard decision, because even though they are still free ranging inside their enclosure, the whole thing of getting *ex-bats is that we want them to have their liberty. They really, really, enjoy themselves when they are allowed to roam all over wherever they like – sadly it has come to “their freedom, or their lives”.

A few days ago after everyone was fed, I let the chickens out and sat under a tree reading a book, just a little way up the hill from where the chickens usually congregate. I was imagining a Rousseauian landscape for a moment, when I heard one of the chickens make a short, not unusual cackle only a few meters away. Not thinking anything the matter, I only casually looked down past a few bushes to see instead of my chicken, the small furry ginger animal (!!!!!!!!!). Fox?! Jumping up, I screamed at the predator as loudly as I could, hoping to frighten him. My chicken was now making alarmed calls and I saw her dash past through the bush. The fox was so bold. I really thought he would run away as I advanced, but he didn’t flinch. I thought surely my chicken had escaped with the fox being surprised, but as I came closer I saw he had something in his mouth. My heart sank. It seemed as though it was a small greyish bundle – one of our defenceless young call ducks!! “Oh my gosh I must have left the waterfowl enclosure open!”. (Later I found it was indeed one of our chickens and that I had locked the waterfowl enclosure thank goodness, or it may have been carnage.) It happened so quickly. He didn’t have the slightest worry about me running toward him, somehow he grabbed my poor girl and was off up the steep hillside in plenty of time, leaving me screaming bloody murder far behind him. I chased him in vain through the hilly woods, screaming and screaming at the top of my lungs, what I would do to him if I caught him; the alpacas standing at attention, looking quizzically as I rushed past gasping for breath.

I can’t believe he was not put off with myself right there, Conrad the cat nearby (a sweet but merciless rat hunter)… OK I know foxes are not afraid of cats, but Conrad is TOUGH and he was bigger than the fox; not to mention 5 Alpacas who inherently hate canines standing above. Alpacas are actually known to attack and trample foxes that threaten livestock, so are kept on some farms as guards. Ours certainly become quite agitated when Gisela takes her harmless geriatric dog Mausie on walks. However, they have not stopped the fox, at least on the several fatal run-ins we have had. A new lesson.

Ralph is more philosophical about it: “the fox needs to eat”… I am categorically in the other camp: let the fox dine elsewhere. Now I love foxes, they have a right to live and I am certainly not in the hunting camp. I cannot stop him from eating wild animals and how could I begin to want to if I believe he has a right to life? In fact our dear little friend Albert, a wild pheasant has disappeared and I am sad as I feel certain Albert has been eaten – but I do understand it is part of life. Yes, I love all animals with a strong unshakable devotion, but I love MY animals more. Part of my strong beliefs on domestication of animals is the responsibility to those specific animals we keep, to protect them from harm or hardship (at utmost cost), in return for the products they give us – which of course make our lives easier and more pleasant. Yep, it’s war!

*all of our chickens are rescued Ex-Battery hens from the commercial egg industry – bar “Georgette”, an absolutely huge white meat chicken saved from our builder’s dinner plate during a moment of weakness; both his and ours… and “Walter” a leggy white cockerel {with too long a story of how he arrived here}.

♥ Tatyana

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