Two weeks ago, the boys came in from chores to announce that one of the hens had been gutted.
We had no idea what happened, but knew that some kind of critter had either killed her, or found her dead and helped itself. A couple days later, after church, we had a knock on our door. The neighbor had seen a fox chasing our chickens.
Three were dead.
Over the course of the next few days, we set traps. You see, once a fox hits your hen house, it doesn't stop killing until there is nothing left. They are relentless. They will kill more than they can carry, coming back to take the dead to bury for later meals. Then, they will strike again, and again, and again.
I called some neighbors and borrowed a bigger trap than the one we had. We couldn't use a steel trap, due to the cats and such. I baited the new large trap, as well as my small one, with a rooster. Jurassic Park style.
I pretty much sat by the window any time I was home, with the shotgun ready. I would fix lunch, then check the window. Help the kids with school... check the window. I didn't want that fox to get any more of my girls! The days went pretty much like this:
1. Check on traps.
2. Reluctantly run a load of dishes... even though it doesn't help because there are two more loads worth on the counter.
3. Stare out the window at the chickens and fox traps.
4. Tea party with two very persnickety hosts.
5. Stare out the window at the chickens and fox traps.
6. Attempt (and fail) at being productive.
7. Mandatory post-lunch dance party.
8. More fox obsession.
One day, I came home from class and saw it. I ran inside, grabbed the shotgun, and followed it from our yard, behind the church, and into the Smith's pasture. At one point I was hiding behind a recycling bin with a shotgun. In hot pink Converse. In the pasture, I ducked behind a hay bale. It spotted me. I wasn't close enough, but I shot anyways... and missed. I blame the hot pink Converse.
Mind you, all of this, at this point, had taken place in less than a week.
After more anticipation by the window, and more baiting of traps (racoons do a number on bait... as they pull it through the bars instead of actually walking into your trap), it his again. This time, three more were dead. One gorgeous splash maran rooster, and one blue copper maran hen were left on site. We knew that fox would be back to fetch its kill. So, Jeff camped out and waited.
Now, Jeff doesn't sit still well. It was hilarious to see him still for that long. But, there he sat... in my brown duster sweater, with his reusable to-go cup of homemade caramel latte. After an hour, the kids and I went to church. It was my day to keep the nursery. There, I got the text. He got that fox!
It was nasty, mangy, and gross. I thought it could have been a chupacabra. Definitely not the pretty fox that you see in books.
We basked in our victory, releasing our free rangers that had been unhappily cooped up for their protection. Then, early evening, we saw another fox.
The next day, I called Jeff's parents and asked if they could come and watch the kids while I sat and waited for it to return. They came. Randy and I headed out, but the drizzle became rain after an hour or so. It was cold, too. Not the sunny warm Sunday that Jeff had out there the day before!
They left, and I went back to my domestic, rainy day duties. Later in the day, I went out to feed the chicks... and saw that nasty fox, munching on some scraps I threw out to the chickens. I slinked backwards to the house, without being spotted. I grabbed the shotgun and ran back out, hiding behind the storage shed. I pushed myself up against its wall and inched down the side until I could peek around the corner. It was still there, munching. I pointed and FIRED.
It grazed the fox. It didn't run, but kind of staggered and walked back a bit.
I shot again.
"Whoohoo! Way to go mommy!" They were all shouting and screaming out the window like they were at a baseball game.
Yes, boys and girls. Watch your mommy go out there with a shotgun and protect her livestock.
And remember it.
Yes, Daddy got a guilty fox the day before. But, as Addison says, "Mommy, you got bonus points. You were in the rain."