Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Softie?

Going outside in the morning to check on the animals is NOT a time when I want surprises.  Too many of them have been bad over the years.  Sometimes though I find something interesting, and that is always worth sharing.

Normally an egg like this won't last long in the bustling community nest many chickens share.  My girls are no exception waiting (only occasionally patiently) for their chance to add their egg to the growing pile in the corner of our cook.  Trading places, rolling eggs and otherwise stomping around of all those chicken feet would spell almost instant disaster for a soft shelled egg like this, at which point the girls would literally snap up the evidence so that nothing goes to waste. (continued)

I mention we've had a few visits from a fox but mostly that is old news.  Almost a month ago now (though time flies on the farm) Mrs. Farmer watched Mr. Fox make several attacks on the girls in broad daylight over the course of a couple of days.  A little bit of bushwhacking around the edges to remove the deepest cover, setting up a bit of a perimeter with poultry net fence and the fact that the girls most prone to wandering alone or venturing out without cover are the ones the fox killed  have all contributed to relatively few losses overall ::knocks on wood::  Except for those first few days we've protected everyone and solitary has done the hurt hen good so far even if she isn't really back to laying.

My thought process behind the anti fox measures is fairly simple.  We were already (and continue to) shut the girls in at night secure in the coop.  This is fairly common practice because what lets a chicken walk right out in the morning for their convenience turns chickens into a boxed lunch for most predators.  With no predator activity prior to that this year we were letting the girls range a bit more than usual and without a fence to keep their attentions focused.  This meant hens right on the edge of the treeline or sometimes even digging through leaves completely out of sight in the thicket.  Thicket, and cover, and short sight lines that all favor an ambush, and no surprise as soon as Mr. Fox realized what a great buffet we had laid for him he was coming every day (and twice on Sunday) to show his appreciation.  You may have already realized what the first move had to be, namely forcing the fox to cover open ground.  The roosters, the dogs, myself, or even the hen just 5' away might not notice that a bird got nicked when Mr. Fox didn't even have to stick his nose into daylight.  The perimeter net, set at least 2' back from the brush and thicket seems to be doing that nicely.  Adding to the lack of cover, the poultry fence also represents a direct obstacle since it forms a complete perimeter.  With no sneaky entrance, and quick beeline getaway route a predator has to think twice before committing himself to an attack.  Add to that, a pair of attentive roosters, the pair of attentive dogs, and occasionally even a pair of attentive farmers and it doesn't take long for Mr. Fox to consider options elsewhere.

One need not be 100% predator proof to be successful but one cannot be the easiest meal on the block either.  Maybe Mr. Fox is off checking out someone else's chickens, maybe the summer flush of mice, squirrels and the like are just convenient enough compared to that fence. I can't say for certain, but you don't need to fix what isn't broken.  So I will count my blessings (and for once, appropriately) my chickens with a hesitant satisfaction.  After all, you never know what will break next.

Thanks for stopping by.


  1. That was a good fox story Dad,
    Love Marcus

  2. Marcus's comment was the best ever comment.
    Good story Leos!