Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An uninvited visitor

I love gazing out over the barnyard while sitting at my big farmhouse kitchen table. Just like earlier this evening. I was admiring the frolicking goats, the handsome horse, the small red creature standing in the run-in stalking our ducks….

HEY!!!! That's a red fox going into the barn!!

Photo courtesy of fotosearch.com

Off I went running out of the house like a lunatic again (I tend to do a lot of that around here) with Lucas close behind me. I guess the fox heard me coming (really?) for it high-tailed it into the paddock behind the barn and was later spotted trotting along the far end of the adjacent hayfield before entering the woods.

We’ve been restricting our hens’ barnyard movements for the last week after finding several suspicious piles of feathers in the hayfield. We thought it might have been a fox that had snatched a hen or two (or three) but what surprised me just now is how brazen it was – standing there, just a few feet from the entrance to the barn like it owned the place.

Thankfully, all winged creatures are accounted for but it's too bad we can't give our "noble" donkeys any credit for saving the day. You know the barn-eating, hay-burning creatures we installed to protect our flock? They missed out on the action. Completely. They were behind the barn treating themselves to some lovely dust baths.

Since this latest crisis, I've been reading up on foxes on the BackYard Chickens' "Predators and Pests" forum and I know we should count ourselves very lucky -- this time. For it'll be back. It's not a question of if, but when.

So it looks like I'll be shopping for more electric fencing tomorrow -- maybe that portable netting stuff -- or perhaps some traps, though foxes sound pretty tricky to snare.

Unless anyone else has any suggestions -- what do you do to keep your poultry safe?

7 comments:

Spring Lake Farm said...

I haven't had to deal with a fox yet. I think the sheer amount of canine activity around our house deters any fox or coyote visits. Raccoons have been another thing....

Good luck!

Sandy

Fiona said...

Thanks, Sandy! For the good wishes and you've given me an idea. I mean I have been telling hubby that we need to get another dog,,, or two. Do you really have 14???

Erin said...

Wow, I can just see you running out there after it! I hear they are bold and hard to trap, "smart like a fox" is a true statement I guess. Where do you think the feathers in the field came from? Do neighbors have poultry? I am waiting too, on hearing how others deal with/prevent this problem. And dogs, oh, my husband would have to tie me down if someone told me to get more, LOL, I would have a cattle dog, border collies and more aussies... the sign would read "Welcome to Neurotic Ranch" LOL!

Fiona said...

Hi Erin -- from what I've briefly read, it seems that foxes snatch their prey and then eat it somewhere else. So the feathers in field were the remains of our hens.
And funny -- you just named my fav dog breeds!

Erin said...

oh! I misread and thought that you said you had all yours, I guess the count was after the last fox visit! Sorry to hear. Yes, despite the warnings about the energy levels and neuroticsms of those breeds, there are some of us who mesh very well with those dogs! My sign out front would read "neurotic goofy looking tractor tire biting herding dogs wanted, tail-less welcome, apply inside"!

laura said...

I'm sorry to hear about your fox troubles, Fiona. We lost two hens and a rooster to a hawk just over a month ago and similarly curtailed the freedom of our hens. A full length mirror laid in the chicken yard seems to have frightened away all aerial attackers. But I suppose a fox might just look in a mirror and say to himself "what a handsome fellow!"

Fiona said...

Laura -- that mirror in the chicken yard is brilliant! I may just have to use that idea... if and when the hawks find our ladies!
I'm sorry to hear about losses. It's hard, isn't it.

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