A week or so ago I was having a bit of a bad day… Kazuo was ill (and that is another long and ghastly story, for another day perhaps) and things just didn’t go at all according to plan…
Last Monday morning we called the chickens for their post-breakfast treats (toast crusts) and only our half-blind little treasure, Naynaynay Number Four, turned up. I thought that a little strange. An hour or so later, a friend drove up the drive to meet us for an outing to Elie Beach/The Cocoa Tree Cafe in the East Neuk. That was when we discovered that Mr Fox had finally made a broad-daylight foray into our little world.
When we got the chickens, we had seen a fox prowling about our yard late one night, so made a particular effort to ensure their nighttime home was fox-proof. But we got a little over-confident about how they would fare during the day. We don’t have any real fencing, so they have been free to roam far and wide, which they have loved.
They loved their freedom so much that about 6 weeks ago they began laying elsewhere, and we searched the hedgerows and the copse and could not find their stash anywhere. Then Mrs Cluck disappeared – and at that point we were fairly certain the fox would get her at night. A week later she reappeared. Skinny and out of condition, but nonetheless, in one piece. We were astounded.
But last week, with oats surrounding us in the fields about hip-height and new fox cubs to be fed, I suppose the inevitable happened. The bravest of the girls were happy to roam up and down the drive. On Monday morning, I assume that Mr and Mrs Fox snuck out of the field into the drive, made a snatch and grab, and left three little piles of feathers where the hens would have been.
It was a sorry sight, but I was relieved it was not actual bloody carnage. And I comfort myself with the thoughts that (a) these girls got a good 6 months of totally free-range chickeny life they would never have had otherwise, (b) the little foxes need sustenance too, (c) we don’t have to subject these three fiesty happy creatures to more constraint when we move into our village cottage in October [we will need to build a run since we will be in the village].
For now, our half blind survivor poor little Nay is a nervy, lonely girl and I’ve been making an effort to keep her company outside for an hour or two each day so she gets a little roaming time. But this weekend we hope to get her some company so that she doesn’t die of fright. Who would have ever thought, back in January, that she would be the sole survivor of our little rescued flock? It is a little Aesop-esque this tale of our chickens…