Once Upon A Fox
When you live off the grid, five miles up a dirt road, you can bet your bottom dollar that you are going to encounter the occasional wild critter. Some of the more frequent flyers are red-tailed hawks, rattlesnakes, deer, wild pigs, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, skunks and scorpions.
Nonetheless, I was quite shocked to come face-to-face with a little gray fox, early Friday morning, not twenty feet outside my back door. The reality is that the fox was there first, as I strolled out the back door, intent on scouting out “Tomato Terrace,” still grappling with how I am going to cage those 45 Ace tomato plants.
I was standing at the head of the terrace and had been doing so for at least five minutes, when I finally focused in on the little fox, at first mistaking it for an odd-colored cat, possibly up from a neighbor’s house. Then I saw her in profile and got a genuine jolt.
It’s been at least twenty years since I laid eyes on a fox, whereas back in the day, they were an active part of our ecosystem. In those days, we did not keep chickens, and therefore had no occasion to cross paths. I used to see them in my meanderings and we heard them all the time, more so at night.
Think of it as a dog barking with a severe case of laryngitis. It’s a raspy, gnarly, grating sound, and it kind of creeps you out if you don’t know what it is. On the other hand, once you have identified the unmistakable sound, you don’t feel weird anymore because foxes aren’t going to hurt you.
They fall under the category of “if you see me, I’m probably already gone.” They do not want to mess with people so they keep their distance. They do like to mess with the chickens, but if one is not clever enough to be able to build a coop that prevents foxes from getting in at night, then one deserves what Mr. Fox has to offer.
Now that they are “back,” my question is, where did they go? In discussing this with Gluten-Free Mama, yesterday, she hit me up with an interesting hypothesis: “Do you suppose the rat poison that the cannabis farmers have been known to use, is responsible?”
Ach tung! As heinous as this thought is, I think GF Mama is on to something. It’s no secret that studies done in the past, indicate just how deadly this substance is, up and down the food chain. It just hits a bit too close to home to ponder this as a possibility.
Nonetheless, with heightened awareness and cannabis regulation, hopefully the truck is being backed up, even as we speak. The return of the foxes may be one indication that we are on the right track.
The one I spotted Friday morning, was sleek and velvety and silent. She was beautiful and graceful and seemed unconcerned that I was there. Since I had walked out and then just stopped in the early morning light, she had had five minutes to size me up.
“Nothing to be frightened of here…”
And then she wandered around and let me take a dozen snapshots of her, to prove how happy she was to be back. As I said earlier, my only issue with her would be if she went after my chickens, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
Meanwhile, I won’t forget to lock my girls up at night.