Late yesterday afternoon as the Systems Administrator was sitting in the porch minding the old lady Maran, a fox walked past the front of the house in broad daylight. The SA shot out of the porch, shouting. The fox bolted. The old lady had fortunately just gone into her run and was not caught up in the rumpus, but there was an eldritch screech from the wood that had us both looking for Our Ginger for a moment, until he appeared around the side of the house, blinking. I think the scream was magpies.
Poor old Mrs Hen. We didn't dare let her out this evening, while word's out among the local foxes that there are hens on the loose in the garden in the afternoons. Tomorrow we're out all day, and on Wednesday the new little Speckeldies arrive. They were due to come last Wednesday, but things have slipped a week. So no more chicken exercise time for the old lady for a bit, which is a shame as she likes coming out, and the SA likes looking after her, in a gentle pottering about the garden sort of way.
I saw some friends today at lunchtime, and one has just lost three hens to the fox. They knew foxes were coming into the garden at night from the frenzied reaction of their dogs, but when they tried setting a humane snare at the point where they thought the fox was coming in all they managed to catch was one of the Labradors. If they had managed to trap a fox I don't think it would have been released out on the marshes.
Her neighbour the pest controller was called to a London school that had foxes walking up and down the corridors. He managed to trap them, only for some of the parents to release them. Foxes are too clever to walk into a trap twice. Once you've botched catching them you're stuck, unless you can shoot them, which is not easy in an inner London school. He ended up giving a talk to the parents about the diseases foxes can spread in their droppings, and the bites they can inflict if cornered or frightened. People in towns don't understand, you don't want foxes hanging around near human habitations. If it's a hot summer and people leave their doors open then perhaps there'll be another baby bitten and folk will suddenly remember that foxes are not cute and cuddly, until they forget again.
Late spring and early summer are always the most risky time for the chickens. apart from the fact that we're more likely to let them out when it's nice weather. The vixens have cubs to feed, and it makes them bold and desperate. That's another good reason to keep the kittens indoors until July, when they're bigger.