It is my sad duty to report that the semi-urban fox is alive and well in my corner of Kent, and that he is, as ever, up to his foul deeds.
A few short days ago, I was woken at the ghastly hour of 5am by the eldest of the brood. He came rushing into my bedroom and informed me in a panic stricken shrill that 'Chickens...Noise...Trouble..Garden..QUICKLY'.
Picking up on the fact that there might be a fox trying to get at my beloved feathery flock, I sprang into action. I say that I sprung into action, although truth to be told, it was more like me stumbling out of bed in a panic and falling flat on my face whilst attempting to pull on my trousers.
Down the stairs I tumbled, pulling on assorted garments as I fell. I made a mad dash for the back door and threw it open with a force and fury that, until now, I did not know dwelled within me. Bounding down the back steps onto the patio to be confronted with two very puzzled looking foxes. I have no idea what they made of my appearance, a bare footed, semi clothed madman with sleep in his eyes and murder in his soul must make for an unusual morning apparition. As I took another step toward them, they realised the error of their ways and decided to beat a tactical retreat at great speed. Over the fence they bounded without a backward glance.
I was however, somewhat miffed, when I noticed that neither of the furry fiends had an egg layer grasped within its chops. My confusion was then multiplied several fold as I walked down the garden and saw over the fence the sight of my neighbour standing in the middle of her garden, wearing nothing but her nightie and clutching a rather ornate fruit bowl as if her life depended on it. 'I haven't got any oranges left!' she exclaimed with a passion and meaning that I could not phathom at such a ridicuosly early hour of the morning.
Putting the fruit laden loon to the back of my mind, I approached the hen house with a sense of dread and fore-boding of what carnage I might find. My sense of dread increased when I saw a large amount of brown and white feathers strewn across the bottom end of the garden. Fearing the worst, I came to the hen house, but suprisingly, all seemed to be in good order! Then I noticed that I had not put the lock on the nest box the night before. Suitably ashamed of myself, I lifted the lid to have a sneaky peek and a quick head count. I was indeed one hen down.
But the sudden rush of guilt and grief that I felt towards my feathery friend was soon replaced with a sense of curiosity. I could hear a faint, rather odd 'mewling' sound coming from a few yards away! Upon closer inspection I discovered a very forlorn and tatty looking bird trying to hide itself under a disused rabbit hutch, without much success. She was certainly not in the best of health, she was however very much alive.
I scooped her up and made a quick assessment of the canine inflicted damage. Quite a number of bite marks to the back, some skin missing from her leg, plenty of missing feathers, plus she was very much in a state of shock.
I did consider putting her out of her misery there and then, but being the big softie that I am, I hastily made an impromptu hospital cage in my living room, in an attempt to nurse her back to life.
I am pleased to say that, so far the re-cuperation has been going well. Lucky Clucky, as the kids have re-named her is eating and drinking well, she is already growing back her feathers and she seems bright and alert. I anticipate that she will be reunited with the pecking fraternity within the next few days.
Their have been no further sightings of scantily clad neighbours with fruit holding vessels to the rear of the premises. But it has transpired that she was out there that morning using her satsumas to good effect, by aiming them at the early morning intruders. Bless her cotton socks.
I hope that this little tale of fox-poultry goings on has warmed your soul. But as a footnote I feel I must mention an unexpected turn of events.
The hospital cage that was mentioned earlier was, rather foolishly, placed next to the cage of Bubble the budgie. What is the problem with this I hear you ask? The problem, my friends is this. Bubble is rather adept mimic. He may not be able to copy anything you try to teach him, ie words, but he can however pick up just about any other random noise that he comes into earshot of. Not content with pretending to be a telephone at 3 in the morning, or a lawnmower when I am watching the TV, or making me go to the front door twenty times a day, because he thinks it is funny to sound like a door bell. Bubble has added to is repotoire by making chicken noises at the top of his voice. Again, what is the problem I hear you ask? The problem, my friends is that he is encouraging every last chicken in the garden to wander through the back door and into the house! Furthermore, when they get inside they do like to leave little (or sometimes not so little) presents on the kitchen floor. If this continues much longer, Bubble could end up as a feathery feast for foxes. He has been warned!