Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays’ take on things and experiences

Quick Fox

with 20 comments

That didn’t take long.

From the looks of the feathers that flew, the Buff put up a fight yesterday morning.

Cyndie found the lifeless body beyond the hay shed, not far from our property border to the north. That is a long way from where the trail camera captured the fox crossing our trail in the woods, but it is in the same general northerly direction. We think we have a pretty good idea about what direction from which the threat originates.

Meanwhile, my relocation of the trail cam did not produce the hoped for results. I’m guessing the motion of moving branches was triggering the captures. I scanned 722 images and found one with a nice face shot of a squirrel and one blur of a smaller squirrel leaping through the air. Nothing else, beyond wiggling branches.

Having read about the superb cunning of fox behavior, and their ability to learn patterns of our movement, I’m even more impressed over the great snapshot we have from the morning last week when the two Barred Plymouth Rock hens were dispatched.

It is not lost on us that the elusiveness of this predator has kept us entirely blind to its presence, beyond the one picture. Even though it has obviously been active during the day when we are out and about, neither of us has ever seen it with our own eyes.

Foxy, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

April 9, 2018 at 6:00 am

20 Responses

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  1. Ah! John 😦 I saw that exact scene once when I was a child. It was Oliver! I brought eggs in to school to hatch in an incubator. At the end of school, Oliver came home with me. He was a cool soul…would follow me around…come when I called him! Then one day he didn’t come…and I looked all around until I found the scene in your photo above 😦
    Bad fox! Hope you see him soon…Be aware.
    Have a great Sunday!

    lorriebowden

    April 29, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    • Thanks, Lorrie. I like finding out about your time with Oliver! We know what it’s like to get to know the cool souls of chickens.

      johnwhays

      April 29, 2018 at 10:20 pm

  2. I was talking to Luis today about the scene you described and we thought the culprit was most likely a dog. Actually, there are cases on youtube showing a dog attacking a chicken – almost playing with it and leaving the feathers all strewn about as in your photo. Unlike a hungry fox, they leave the dead chicken on the ground. Yes, I know that foxes can kill a number of chickens, taking only one, but you only had one. The other strange thing is that foxes usually stay clear of places with a dog, which has been our experience. Do you think you can train your dog to look after the new batch of chickens as wtbell envisaged?

    Ian Rowcliffe

    April 11, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    • Could be a dog, but more likely the fox we have clear evidence of. The tracks in the snow, direction of travel, and droppings, are the most convincing evidence, on top of the actual picture we captured of him or her.
      Based on that last Buff’s history, we expect she lost feathers putting up a mighty resistance. She is the once that survived being bloodied in Delilah’s jaws before Cyndie was able to intervene.
      I’m afraid Delilah will never learn the chickens are to be protected. She is still trying to learn that our toast on a plate is off limits. The chickens are too irresistible to her.

      johnwhays

      April 11, 2018 at 7:57 pm

  3. What a bummer! Being a city girl, I think it is awfully sad. Maybe I do not appreciate the circle of life enough. We are thinking about you guys!

    Barb

    April 9, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    • Thanks, Barb! It is very sad, especially coming after a seeming barrage of loss this year, as demonstrated by the sorrow that swamped poor Cyndie yesterday. I’m doing my best to paint it in the best possible perspective, especially given the twelve chicks growing like gangbusters in the brooder!

      johnwhays

      April 9, 2018 at 7:55 pm

  4. This makes me sad. 😦

    Tricia

    April 9, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    • It IS sad. But as Liz helped us to appreciate, when you choose to deal with livestock, you will also deal with deadstock.
      We are focusing on the year of joy we had; all the bugs the chickens ate and all the eggs they blessed us with. Those were our first chickens ever, and they taught us a LOT of things we never knew before. Sad to have lost them, but very happy to have all the joy they brought to Wintervale!

      johnwhays

      April 9, 2018 at 2:15 pm

  5. Are you certain it was the fox? I’ve always thought that foxes are not random/opportunistic killers; they eat what they kill or take it back to the den for the kits. Sounds more like a cat. One solution might be another dog that you can train to live with the chickens and stay on the property.

    wtbell

    April 9, 2018 at 11:24 am

    • From what we’ve read recently, evidence matches fox vs. chicken, and the picture captured and the paw tracks left behind sways us heavily to blaming the fox.
      Yes, another dog that would be a companion to chickens is a potential we are wondering about.
      We read that male human urine can be a fox deterrent, but I don’t think I’m up to the task for the acreage we want the chickens grazing. πŸ™‚

      johnwhays

      April 9, 2018 at 11:53 am

  6. I’m sorry free range is not working. Do you have a Plan B?

    • Nothing firm at this point, but pondering possibilities. We have some time because the twelve new birds will be safely housed for another month or more, before we need to decide if we will try anything different or simply take our chances again.

      johnwhays

      April 9, 2018 at 10:26 am

      • Have you thought of portable electric fencing? I use net fencing from Premier 1 fencing for the pigs and love it. It would be a more like free-ish range chickens, though.

        Liz

        April 10, 2018 at 9:21 pm

      • Also considered, but hassle factor has it at a low likelihood. We have the fence and a solar charge source, but moving them around would be more work than we want, and the confinement defeats our purpose of them scouring the grounds to scratch through manure piles and devour bugs!
        We are jealous of farms where chickens just roam all over the place. Maybe they just don’t advertise their loss ratio. I don’t know.

        johnwhays

        April 11, 2018 at 10:48 am

      • They probably do not give a loss ratio; I feel like we do pretty well and still end up losing between 5 and 10 a year I would guess. The rooster helps a great deal with this for us. We try to keep around 3; the king, and heir and a spare. πŸ˜‰

        Liz

        April 11, 2018 at 3:43 pm

  7. πŸ˜” Bummer…

    Liz

    April 9, 2018 at 8:53 am

    • Yeah. I wonder if we can domesticate the fox by training it to eat table scraps instead of live chickens. I’ve read that killing them just opens the territory to another that will gladly fill the void. I’ll teach it to join our clan and keep other predators away. Hmmm.

      johnwhays

      April 9, 2018 at 9:57 am

      • Ha! My vote would be for the livestock guardian dog; but that could be quite a training investment and a whole new adventure of it’s own…

        Liz

        April 10, 2018 at 9:18 pm

      • This has been considered…

        johnwhays

        April 11, 2018 at 10:44 am


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