I was wide awake by then so I got the dogs all onto leads and we went out on a 'patrol' and the dogs were going ballistic trying to get on the scent and the smell was obviously everywhere; they were pulling this way and that in zig-zags trying to be everywhere at once, noses to the ground, anxious to be "there" first even if they did not know where "there" should be. But Mr Fox had scarpered by then and I doubt whether my short-legged crew would keep up with a fleeing fox across these fields and hedges which he would know but mine would not. We ticked it off to experience, thanked Heaven that our birds and rabbits are locked up safe at night, and didn't really think any more about it. Later that day I even went on line to record the fox's existence on the Bio-Diversity database.
Generally, given that we are fully free range here, we are both amazed at how few (touch wood) big predators we have seen in the 2 years we have been here. No mink so far and just the one very young looking fox a year ago which fled at the sight of me and was never seen again. I have been told that it was probably a young cub leaving 'home' and trying to find a territory of his own. We lost just one of the original Sussex Ponte hens within weeks of first getting them and that when we sat talking indoors late into the dark evening and didn't know to lock everybody up at dusk. We are amazed and delighted that we have not really had a fox problem, when we are sure they must be about. Until now, maybe?
This morning he/she was back. No hullabaloo this time - the fox was undetected by the dogs but as I took them out for their first 'patrol' (I walk them round the place on leads to do their toilet because otherwise they would be away through a hedge, totally out of control, harassing the neighbours' calves or worse) I spotted out of the corner of my eye, the fox's russet shape nip along the side of the pond and out into Vendor-Anna's 5 acre field. He looked like he was coming from our yard up the cattle race, and this was 07:30 this time and broad daylight. The dogs, hidden down below the wall had not seen him and only discovered his presence by scent when we got round that far on our walk. I could see him again in the 5-acres obviously not having run off that far yet, but seeing me again he turned towards the bog field and, I thought, fled.
I hoped he was away home to his earth. I finished my patrol and started to do my feed and release of chickens and geese, hopeful that now he really had gone, but was appalled and surprised, 10 minutes later, to see his tall narrow triangular red profile just outside the front garden gate into the lane, sitting there as if somebody had trained him (...and SIT!), peering in at me. Liz, now awake upstairs had seen him too. I headed for the gate and lane but he now did flee and I could see no more of him in the lane. We've been around all day and we are sure he's not been back, but it's a nervous time.
Step forward, Google. Liz tracked down the expression which gets frequently discussed on 'childhood memory' sites and 'things I used to believe'. It is a thing many people can remember being told as children by grand parents - if you chase a chicken (or other birds and animals depending on whose memory it is) and can manage to pour salt onto its tail it will stop running and you can catch it. John Deere Bob remembers it as you having to pour salt on the cat's tail to make it run away. In the course of all this internet searching I also remembered that it was not, in fact a book, but was the logo on a table salt pot. I thought 'Saxa' but we have now nailed it as 'Cerebos' table salt, where the 'see how it runs' is not only a reference to the chicken chasing but also (It's all coming back to me now!) to how freely Cerebos salt flows from the shaker. Ah, the nostalgia.
|Brooding goose eggs in stereo.|