It seems like too classic a henhouse story. The fox swoops in and nabs the hen, then trots off gaily as the other hens cluck and squawk.
And we thought we had been so careful. Each evening around 4 pm we’ve put the dogs inside the house, in a room with no view of the backyard and henhouse, and then we’ve opened the gate so that all the chickens can roam free and pluck grubs and bugs from virgin grass and generally behave like animals in a farmyard. Then as it gets dark they head back to their cozy henhouse and gather for their nightcaps. We come in and count, and shut the door for the evening.
But not today. Around 4:30 I heard a squawking of a different tenor. It was agitated, staccato, and distressed. I dashed out the door and directly in front of me, just as perfect as an illustration from Aesop’s*, was a gorgeous red fox with Bump between his foxy jaws. Of all the chickens, why did it have to be poor Bump? She was our very first hatchling from the exotic eggs Anne Farrell gave us. We didn’t know what we were getting. She could have been anything and she was a Crevecoeur, all black and with a perfect Mohawk/Fro. She was the matriarch of them all.
And now, fox fodder.
Meanwhile all the chickens are back in the henhouse and we have counted them countless times to assure ourselves that it was only Bump we lost. Have you ever tried counting agitated chickens? It is challenging, but on the other hand I am glad that in my life I have on several occasions counted chickens, and I actually think I am getting better at it.
This is what the fox looked like:
And this was Bump last fall, in her youth:
*As far as I recall, in Aesop's Fables you will find a fox and grapes, a fox and a crow, and a fox with a hedgehog, but nothing about a fox trotting off with a hen between his jaws. Why is this? My guess: there is no moral to the tale.