Sunday, 16 March 2014

Fox Off!

Well, last Sunday I was standing at the kitchen window doing some washing up and watching Primrose and Daisy pottering around the garden doing their entertaining chickeny things, when my attention was drawn to the fence, stage left, whereupon there was walking an enormous cat.

'Good Lord!' I thought. 'That is an enormous cat strolling along the top of the fence.'

And then, to use my cliche of the day, the penny dropped. It was not an enormous cat. It was a fox! A flippin' fox! Bold as you like, in broad daylight (okay, second cliche of the day) marching along the fence beside where Primrose and Daisy were only a four feet drop away, doing their entertaining chickeny things. 

Well! I was immediately thrown into chicken-protection frenzy, and I rushed out into the garden suitably  armed for fox combat with rubber gloves and a tea-towel and my best 'Fox Off!' voice. Luckily, the fox did not stop to admire the chicken delights that lay a small pounce away, and Primrose and Daisy seemed oblivious to the potential danger. 

'We have to get a fox- proof roof for the chicken run!' I shrieked at Andy, who was upstairs in his man- den, reclining in his man-chair and enjoying the sunshine. 'We have to cover over the ENTIRE area with heavy duty wire mesh! Now! We have to do it NOW!!'

Well, being a Sunday this was an impractical demand to make of a man in his man-den who was sunbathing in his man-chair, and to be honest, once I had calmed down I was more able to listen to reason and realise also that the hen run is an impractical and large space to cover over in heavy duty mesh because it is triangular in size and there is a ten foot willow arch and a damson tree to consider. 

We have been keeping chickens for nearly 6 years now. And never once been bothered by the prospect of fox attack. Well, why would we? Our garden is well fenced. We live in a built up area surrounded by houses and people noise and car noise and bustling (oh Lord, the noise - the incessant noise...but that is a different issue and I know how to solve it - move to a house in a field in the middle of nowhere), and have only seen the occasional fox once in a blue moon out on the road in the middle of the night when the hens are safely locked up in their fox-proof pod. 

But now I have seen one within salivating distance as it were, I am convinced there are hundreds of foxes scoping out the da joint in preparation of mounting a day-time raid and committing murder most horrid on the hens of Much Malarkey Manor. And I won't have it.

'You'll have to pee along the top of the fence,' I said to Andy. 'And we'll have to leave the radio playing in the garden all day whilst we aren't here.' Because everyone knows these are 100% dead cert fox deterrent methods. Don't they? 

Well, Andy pointed out that both these activities are likely to annoy, if not startle, the neighbours. I said I didn't care about the neighbours, especially the ones who rent next door, with their fag flicking habits, and their kicking the ball over the fence habits, and their screaming at each other habits, and that the only thing I cared about was making sure our hens' heads remained firmly attached to their bodies because a) hens without heads are rubbish at laying eggs and b) they will be unable to continue entertaining me with their chickeny ways and c) I love hens more than I love foxes. 

(At this point I need to say that I disagree wholly with fox hunting and generally wish them no harm. But foxes need to be in their natural habitat, and that habitat is NOT our back garden.)

So, having calmed down and put on my practical problem solving head, we have spent this week shutting the hens in their smaller fox-proof run during the day whilst we are out and trying to find the biggest walk-in run we can purchase so they can have as much space as possible when we aren't around for fox-patrol. We have decided that the willow arch will have to go in order to accommodate the new run, but given last year's hideous willow aphid attack, that might be no bad thing, and we can always plant another elsewhere in the garden if we suffer willow arch loss issues. 

We thought we found the perfect large walk-in hen house but on further enquiry the manufacturer has gone out of business and the model is no longer available. So the search continues. And whilst there has been no further sign of the fox I know it is out there somewhere.

 And it's NOT having my chickens.


rusty duck said...

Living in the middle of nowhere comes with its own set of problems, believe me.
There are also foxes, walking across the lawn in broad daylight, casually as you like. And then when there is hunting you have a pack of hounds running amok through your flower beds as well.
I hope you find the fox proof run.

Olly said...

Gosh, a lucky escape. I think urban foxes are so bold, nothing puts them off. I never leave my hens out of their run unless I'm around to supervise. It's a nuisance but I think a roofed-over run is the only solution. :-(

Denise said...

Sometimes I think middle of nowhere foxes are worse, Jess. Less likely to be scared off an attack by the general buzz of noise that happens in a town.

We've only been letting ours out when we are around to supervise,Olly. And today we found and ordered a roofed-over run. It looks very robust and will do the trick of keeping Primrose and Daisy safe whilst giving them plenty of running room! Phew!

Julie @Dragonfly Gems said...

Such a good job you spotted it Denise.. I love watching the foxes (when I see them, which isn't often) in the fields beyond my garden.. but they want to watch out if they ever come into my garden! I think they are more interested in the piglets in the fields then bother about coming after my girls.. well I hope that's the case any way!
Hope you manage to find a fox proof run.

Countryside Tales said...

He will be back D, that is the nature of Monsieur Raynard, so I am glad P and D have a new fox-proof run arriving to keep them safe. Having lost more hens to fox attacks than I can count, the only way to prevent it is to do what you have done xx

Denise said...

I know, Julie - made me realise how complacent I have been! New run should be arriving next week some time and then I shall feel happier.

CT, it has been like living on tenterhooks this last week. I know it is all predator and nature stuff but I won't have that kind of nature in my back garden! Xx