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Trouble at the Henhouse

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We had a rough night at Tall Poppy Farm.

On the way to her car at dusk, Anne caught sight of a large fox in the chicken pen. By the time it was discovered, the fox had already killed a number of hens. Brazen animal. It left  – in a single leap over the five foot fence – only after Anne got in there with it, yelling and clapping and throwing stones. When Ally and Mark got down to the pen, we began to see how much damage the fox had wreaked. Dead and dying chickens all around, and some seriously freaked out ones huddling in the coop and under it.

We started piling up bodies, doing the count, and looking for vulnerable survivors. Ally cuddled an injured hen, another hid behind her knees under the tent of her housecoat. The fox came back and kept coming back, bolder with each return. Turns out Anne has a pretty good throwing arm and winged it once with a rock. Mark chased it away with the 4 wheeler. Big Bruiser, the resident tabby-in-charge, puffed up to raccoon size and managed to keep it at bay while we rescued one last live chicken the fox had come prowling after.

We were still missing two hens. The light was almost gone, so we hopped in cars and turned on headlights and drove around the grounds to see if we could find the last two alive. In the sky, a ridiculous, enormous orange moon started to rise over the tree tops.

It all sounds a bit dramatic. And yes, it’s all a part of nature, the fox was only doing what the fox is programmed to do. But it’s heartbreaking nonetheless. The lovely hens, such a joy to see strutting about the farm, free to roam and hunt and peck, now do so at such a risk. The survivors didn’t want to come out of the coop this morning and I can’t say I blame them.

Final tally: 8 hens alive, 8 dead, 2 missing. And 1 fearless fox who knows where to get an easy meal.

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