Deadly Mr Fox... if you’re a hen

Irish Examiner - Farming - - NEWS -

On Satur­day morn­ing, my daugh­ter Grace came run­ning in, shout­ing that a fox was try­ing to take the hens “and their eggs too!” While I don’t have a great deal of time for the hens, I cer­tainly like their eggs. The pair lay the best eggs in the whole world. Prize win­ners ev­ery time.

A day with­out one of their eggs, is a day hardly worth liv­ing, in my book. So heaven help any fox who thinks he can get be­tween me and my eggs. Gra­cie didn’t have to wait long for her dad to spring into ac­tion,

“I’d bet­ter put on my welling­tons, so Gra­cie” says I, for at that mo­ment, I was in the bed, and ’tis rarely that I wear my welling­tons in the bed.

Grace, my eight-year-old daugh­ter, is de­voted to the birds, and col­lects the eggs ev­ery morn­ing with­out fail. Two eggs six days a week, and one egg on a Sun­day morn­ing, as one of the hens en­joys a rest day.

And I don’t be­grudge her that.

I’d do the same my­self, if I was a hen.

“Stay in­doors, Grace,” I warned, as I left the house, bran­dish­ing a firearm. The welling­tons were on, the gun was cocked, and I was keen to let Mr Fox have both bar­rels.

So out the door I went like Don­ald Trump him­self, with my hair in a tus­sled state, and I ea­ger to de­clare war on any­thing that moved. Our two hens, Kate and Camilla Parker-Bowles (or Peck and Cluck for short), have been with us a good spell, and we have never in all that time al­lowed a fox spoil the fun. Un­for­tu­nately, by the time I ar­rived at the hen house, the cun­ning fox had gone. I saw him high­tail it up the field as I ap­proached, but I let off a warn­ing shot all the same, to show him that I meant busi­ness.

I have found down through the years that this warn­ing s h o t wo r k s we l l , w i t h a l l types of un­wel­come vis­i­tors. The hens, I’m glad to re­port, got through the event un­harmed, sur­viv­ing both the fox and the gun­fire. Any­how, that night, as I pre­pared to go to bed, I looked out the win­dow, only to dis­cover my red­haired devil, and he skulk­ing a ro u n d o u t s i d e i n t h e bushes.

Well I can tell you, I was both shocked and hor­ri­fied to find him back so soon, but even in my state of un­dress, out once again I charged. This time more like a barech­ested Vladimir Putin. The fox was in for it now, I re­ally meant busi­ness. The bushes rus­tled as I closed in for the kill and, rais­ing my gun to blast him to king­dom come, I roared “Halt or I’ll fire”. Which, on re­fec­tion, was a strange thing to roar, for it mat­tered lit­tle whether he halted or ran.

The plan was to shoot re­gard­less of his move­ments. But as I stead­ied my­self to pull the trig­ger, what should ap­pear in the bushes only the orange head of a Jer­sey bull calf.

The prowler wasn’t a fox at all, he was a calf. Nat­u­rally, a cease­fire was called, for to shoot a calf would be the ac­tion of an id­iot.

Es­pe­cially af­ter he cost­ing me €5 to pur­chase back in the spring, and a bag of milk re­placer and nuts since. I would have been shoot­ing my prof­its in the arse, if I was to shoot the calf.

So the Jer­sey re­turned to the bushes and I went to my bed. As for the two hens, they slept soundly, obliv­i­ous to all the dan­gers lurk­ing around the farm.

Woe be­tide the fox that comes be­tween De­nis and his daily eggs.

Gun law around the hen­house.

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