Friday, 1 July 2011

Lucky Escape

I shot this in a hen house at 2.30 this morning -

It's only one of this year's cubs, but already old enough to be out by itself doing a bit of opportunistic hunting, honing its skills.

The house it broke into had a Buff Orpington hen and her brood of chicks inside - my flock replacements for next year. I heard the hen screaming, which is enough to wake me out of a sound sleep.

My heart sank when I saw the edge of the chicken wire lifted away, and a pile up of chicks in the corner. The hen was still screaming. She sounded frightened and angry at the same time. At least she was alive, as were some of the chicks.

The fox saw me and panicked. By this time Mike had handed me a .17 rifle and I dispatched the cub while it tried to dig its way back out. I had to wait until morning to see which birds had been injured.

I'm thrilled to report that, so far, there are no broken wings or legs, and all the chicks look alert if a little ruffled by their ordeal. There is a light dusting of feathers on the house floor, but most of them come from the mother who's sporting a rather bare neck.

The cub tried to supersize his meal and it backfired on him. It's a lesson he won't get a second chance to learn.


Maria said...

Never a dull moment! I'm very your hen and chicks escaped (mostly) unharmed.

Pomona said...

I am so glad you were able to rescue them in the nick of time, poor things, and I hope that they recover from the shock. We lost a dozen in broad daylight to an escaped lurcher in January - it was so heartbreaking, some died in the days after the attack, either from shock or internal injuries.

We have a small holed metal mesh rather than chicken wire on our hen houses - I think it is more fox proof.

Pomona x

Anonymous said...

Maria & Pomona - There's a bit of chicken PTSD going on. One chick and the hen both look war-torn. I've given them all vitamins for stress, and syringed some pain meds into the chick who was panting. As you say Pomona, poultry is so susceptible to shock.

The hen is doing a lot of sitting down today, and her neck is bare all around. I think she put herself between the cub and the chicks. Hurrah for mom hormones.

Pomona - what a horrible loss you had to that lurcher! Did you receive any recompense or an apology? Not that either bring your breeding stock back.

Paula said...

I'm so glad you were there in time!

Both stories make me glad I'm building a fortress for my girls! I sincerely hope that the hardware cloth I'm using will be strong enough against raccoons.

I hope that they all recover well, Jennifer.

Anonymous said...

From Jen@M&T
Paula - I was only thinking this morning that I'm developing the same rabid dislike (pun intended ;) for foxes that you have for raccoons. I'm going to take Pomona's advice and reinforce some of my wire hen houses with metal mesh.

Frogdancer said...

I'm glad you were able to get there in time. I live in the suburbs of Melbourne but we still have foxes in the area (golf courses) so I make sure my girls are locked up in their coop every night. It's one way I don't want to be woken!!!

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

Awesome post, awesome shot you are as well! Lucky hens.

CZLion said...

I'm glad you came through that ordeal with no casualties.That's why I'm reluctant to start a small chicken operation and the neighborhood is rampant with raccoons. The state of WA has banned trapping and can't shoot them in the incorporated county - it borders a felony if caught. I'm still wanting to give them a go. Good luck and I do love reading your blog, being a pheasant shooter. Johnny

Le Loup said...

Well done. My wife just got her firearms license.

Mimi and Anna said...

Great job! A fox in the hen house and no casualties - very impressive. We lost every one of our chickens to a raccoon once (got in under the chicken wire, just like your fox). Raccoons are so nasty - they'll kill all the hens and only take one away to eat. It was a hard lesson, but we replaced all our chicken wire with 1/2" hardware cloth. There have been no problems since.