Thursday, May 21, 2015

Glossy Fox

Seven weeks since we lost our dog, we have missed her in the everyday activities in odd sorts of ways. Having a dog means that I don't need to scoop up that piece of pasta that escaped when I dumped the colander into the bowl. I knew it would not be there more than a couple of minutes, even if she was asleep in the next room.  Now she is gone it means that if I place a marker on a table where the cats can play hockey with it, I won't find its shredded remains the staining the floor in a couple of hours. I always knew the temperature and weather first thing in the morning, and if there was dew on the grass.  I always knew someone had arrived long before the knock on the door. I knew if there was someone she particularly liked on the other side of the door, as she aroooooooo'd in hound fashion, and did a breakdance spin.  Now, we need a doorbell, because I don't hear folks knock over the sound of the washing machine or dishwasher.

Not having a dog also brought home a new implication today.  When we first moved in we saw a fox once and never again after that.  Today, over breakfast my daughter spotted a huge,  glossy fox standing on the lawn near the big old stump looking at the chicks from a distance. My daughter and I ran to the door to scare him off (I'm assuming it was male), and stood on the top step, just stunned by the size of him.  "We need a dog." were the first words out of my mouth.  I don't think that it was a coincidence that this beautiful predator showed up less than two months after the hunting dog passed. The fox turned and trotted into the leaves of the pawpaw patch, not much perturbed. At that moment I felt something wiggle by my leg. My daughter yelled, "Aggie!", as our indoor sloth of a cat decides to make a break for it.  Luckily, his brain runs even slower than he does and he was caught and returned inside.

A few days ago a neighbor's cat (looks to sleek to be a stray) tried to hunt the chickies, but discovered that chicken wire is difficult to see. the hard way. The big girls were giving their warning noises and she decided not to mess with the big girls  after all they have several obvious pointy parts to avoid. She got into hunting pose, wiggled her behind around and around like the cheetahs on TV and the through herself with full force into the fence and bounced off.  She shook herself off and decided to try again another way.  She found the open gate to the big pen and proceeded to the enclosed run for the little chicks.  She repeated her funniest videos type performance a couple more times and then completely freaked out, not being able to figure out how to get out of the fence.  She bounced several more times until she realized that she needed to leave the same way she came in and then dove for the woods.

Now to figure out what to do. The little chicks are reasonably well protected on all sides with chicken wire, but they are getting big and need more space. The big girls have an open topped fenced yard that a fox could easily scale. The girls jump that fence just before lunch daily, so they can roam freely through the yard.  I can tell he's not a hungry one, but he might return to have a little easy hunting practice.

We have been trying to get the young girls out for a bit in the evening to enjoy a bit of the greenery for dinner, but given the cat situation, we have been chaperoning these sessions.  Here are a few photos and a couple of videos of them on their second venture out of the run.
Freya, Bubbles and Circe enjoying some greens.

Diana behind the wire, Effie in front of the wire.

Freya and Circe
 Listen to the sounds the chicks are making, sometimes they still sound like bitty babies and other times they sound like strangled geese. I know they'll work it out eventually to sound like chickens.

Finally, if any of the folks who like to read about the garden are still with me, I am digging out a flower bed that has not been completely redone since we bought the house.  My husband put butterfly bushes into it last year, and we've removed much of the ornamental grass, but the big wads of vinca and spearmint choking out the front of it had not been attempted, until now.
The two big chickens are helping.

Spearmint roots wrap around the rim, the whole plot is pot bound.
There are plenty of spearmint plants, vinca, wild grapes (and poison ivy) in there for anyone local who might be interested.  I was given some fancy dalias last week and I need to get them in the ground, so this plot should be done in the next few days--after the rain moves through.

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