Thursday, September 13, 2007

Fox Hunt

When I type the words, it brings to mind the genteel, pretty picture of steeds and hounds, bounding across an English countryside laced with manicured hedges and the call of a brass horn...(it's just a mental picture, actually I don't think chasing down a fox with a troup of dogs and humans is sport, fair, or even nice, but...)

But like so many other things, on our farm the reality does not come close to the vision.

As it is with the fox. Or foxes, to be accurate. There is a mother and her single, surviving pup, now pretty grown up. I say surviving, because grey foxes usually have litters of 2-4, and we have no proof of demise, but just assumed.

They ate Speedy. Speedy, for those who do not know, was a bantam rooster we hatched on the farm, and despite his fiesty and sometimes aggressive personality, he was my buddy. So we do not like these foxes. And although they have helped us curb the rabbit population, I would prefer nibbled veggies to losing our poultry pals.

So, we are hunting the foxes. We all would prefer to catch them and move them to the state land three miles down the road, but this has proved harder than we would like.

1st Attempt: Bait the trap with a rotisserie chicken wing and wait.

Although the right color, not exactly what we were hoping for.

2nd attempt: Try a piece of the chicken skin.

Some sneaky little creature dug underneath the trap, and removed the skin by pulling it through the bottom. It's the right intelligence, but not the outcome we were hoping for.

3rd Attempt: DH thinks we should use apples, since we have watched the foxes eat the windfalls, I think apples are too available, and opt for an egg.

At dusk, we checked the trap, and DH reported the egg was gone. So either this Einstein really did go in for the apples, which lay by the dozens all around, or it went something like this:

Rocky: Hey, what's that over there?

Rascal: Dunno, let's go check it out.

Rocky: Why don't you go in it?
Rascal: Why don't YOU do it?
Rocky: What? You chicken?
Rascal: OK, fine. Watch me.


Rascal: Hey! Get me out of here! You made me go in...don't leave me!
Rocky: Cool your jets, I'll dig you out. Wait till I tell the boys about this one...

Rascal: Shut up and dig, man!

Rocky: Sorry pal, but I'm not getting anywhere. What did you go in there for in the first place?
Rascal: Shut up.

4th Attempt: Bait the trap with cat food. We have also seen the foxes eating the cat food.

Just the distance of the photo should tell you what we caught this time, in case you can't tell...Needless to say, this one did not end with the same happy outcome as the others. (Animal Lovers: We are open to any tips on how to empty a live trap of a skunk without necessitating extensive bathing in tomato juice and driving to work with all the windows open...short of that, it was "Hello to Mister .22")

5th Attempt: (Still waiting for the trap to air out...)

Meanwhile...another puzzle.

Several weeks ago we found the feathery remains of something on the lawn. Too many feathers for it to have been a close call, or happy ending, and pretty much the look of a raptor kill. But the feathers were all a light grey, covered with polka dots of white. I was stumped.

This morning, as I went back up to the house for Mister .22, I found a carcass in the middle of the path.

The size of one of our laying hens, at first I thought that's what it was. Thankfully, none of ours match the description, and frankly no chicken I've ever seen has the grey and polka dot I'm thinking young guinea hen? Any thoughts? Before you tell me to check the head, there was none.

And if anyone wants to weigh in on the predator...

BTW- none of our neighbors have guinea fowl. At least none of our neighbors within "several blocks". So that just makes the whole thing even more strange. So it goes around here...


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

My, my; lots of activity on your wee farm! You must be on the local wildlife's "Best Eats" list! Around here, the possum would have met Mister .22 also, since they can shed Equine Protozoal Myalitis (sp) in their feces and often poop in the hay. Sigh. I look forward to the "Peaceable Kingdom."

Kathy L. said...

ROFLMAO!!!!! ;) Only because this would happen to me as well! Right now, the east side of Flag has a quarantine on cats - they must be kept indoors as fleas living on Prairie Dogs are carrying plague (yes, bubonic plague), which cats can get and transmit. :(
I'm with you...Mister .22 has a Cousin .22 that lives here.
I hope you nail 'em. And tack their wittle hides to the barn.