Well, you should just call me a part-time fox chaser and my coworkers name is Clyde. He is a little bit of an old man and slumbers away mid morning until sunset; making our farm vulnerable during that time. This isn't abnormal, Great Pyrenees are nocturnal and are up all night barking, patrolling and warning off predators. It's unfair that predators are coming to our farm during the day. But it's during these seasons where they are most hungry and things are most bare, harder to hunt. When C man is sleeping he is really out, like I mean seriously, sometimes wakes up to any kind of noise, and sometimes is in such a deep sleep that the chickens gather around him pecking his nose and ears and he doesn't even flinch. The fox knows this. He has been stalking, watching, and waiting for his moment. Before the stalking, Clyde would come in for snuggles during my morning coffee. The fox waited, like clock work he's probably thinking, and before I knew it I saw Dale the goose honking running down the driveway. Even with Clyde, we have had enough predator attacks that I am always on alert. I knew this wasn't normal, the ducks and geese are never alone and if they are something is very wrong. I ran outside heart racing, I see a fox running out of the barn and think what the actual.. hell.... the birds.. I run into the barn and everyone is okay. The ducks don't seem bothered and the chickens jumped to higher grounds for safety. I felt lucky that everyone was safe. I'm sorry Clyde, but there goes our morning snuggles.
Have you ever seen a coyote? In real life? I have heard them from a distance during bonfires, seen them on tv, seen them viciously attack on my ultimate favourite movie EVER "The Biggest Little Farm" but I have never seen one in person until this winter. It was a warmer winter day and some chickens made it around the house. Clyde was asleep on the other side. I work by the window, always listening, keeping an eye. I heard the chickens going insane, not making their daily sounds, but more of an alarm one. I run downstairs, swing open the door and there is chicken in our front porch up on a shelf. I think, oh, you finding a place to lay an egg? ok? I go back upstairs. I am working again, more noises, it's continuing. I don't check the front porch, but the driveway. I see a very stoic coyote eyeing me up. I see our silkie rooster trying to protect our scared hens. Everyone becomes still when I come out. I yell, and the coyote runs away. Again, everyone is ok. I feel lucky.
Winter ends. Spring is here. We haven't had another predator attack since the coyote and the fox. Clyde now comes in for snuggles after we put everyone to bed. One night, I am doing a head count of the chickens. I am missing one. She must be out hiding somewhere. This has happened before, they find a spot that isn't obvious to us and end up sleeping there for the night. We figure she will randomly appear tomorrow morning and all will be well. I have a feeling this is not the case, I have looked everywhere, counted everyone 10x and still 1 hen is missing. I wake up knowing that I will never see her again. When I wake up to do morning chores, my sadness is confirmed. Still only 28 chickens. Where did she go? What happened? I check around the barn in the snow for predator tracks. I see small, cat like tracks coming from across the field, onto our property, to the spot where Clyde sometimes sleeps, and then to the spot under the maple where the chickens hangout. The tracks go back across the field. And then I knew. The fox came back, and was successful in stalking and hunting one of our beloved hens. I am sad, she was one of our first hens, been here from the beginning.
We are on even more alert because we know that he will be back. Once a fox knows where there is a food source, he will come back, and he will attack again. We start putting everyone to bed earlier. We do what we can in the meantime to prevent another attack. Clyde is barking more than usual, sniffing and preoccupied.. sending the fox warnings. The fox, no longer cares, too hungry to care, is willing to risk being caught by us or by a big white polar bear.
Alex and I are sitting having breakfast and a coffee. It is a beautiful start to spring. The pond is not thawed yet, so I have been filling the small kiddie pool for the quackers. It's right beside the house where the hose is, and the only patch of dirt that they also enjoy. It's around 10am. We hear the ducks make noises that still give me goosebumps. We instantly jump up, I glance out the window and see the brave fox. My heart races. We run outside barefoot and I find myself chasing this fox down. I am running, I fall, I get back up, he is not far away from me. Alex is behind me yelling. I see something in the fox's mouth, who is it, who does he have, who is it, who is it.. I am getting closer to him and I will not stop running or yelling until he lets go of whoever is in his mouth. He drops them. It is my Luna. She is my favourite girl, has always been on the slower side, not because there's anything wrong with her but because that's just how she is. She goes through life at her own pace, never caring too much what everyone else in the click is doing. I love her so much because of this. When we introduced everyone to Sally and Luna last year, Sally fought her way into their clique. She lost feathers, she chased them away showing dominance and she eventually got what she wanted. She was a part of their group. What did Luna do? Hung back, swam alone, ate alone, honestly did not care about the new ducks and what they were doing. She had Sally, and that was enough for her. Even though Sally was in the new gang, her and Luna are still very much a pair, and that's all Luna ever cared about. Luna did not fight her way into the new gang, she just eventually became a part of it.. or did they become a part of her? I was furious that the fox had preyed on my Luna. Of all the shit we had been going through lately, if I would have had to endure losing Luna I would have lost my freaking shit. And yet here she was in my arms, safe, obviously scared and shaken by being picked up from the fox and had lost some wing feathers, but was otherwise fine. I felt lucky once again. But I knew our luck was eventually going to run out. Bonnie, a new pyrenees puppy soon to be in training by Alex and Clyde, could not come soon enough...