Foxes, we discovered this morning, are very fond of chickens. A little bit too fond, in fact.
It was an ordinary morning – the girls were playing Harry Potter on the computer, the chickens were in the garden, I’d just stepped out of the shower – when there came a strange noise. Initially, I thought it was coming from Harry Potter, but then I realized the chickens were making a big fuss about something.
Chickens like to make a big noisy fuss about nothing; it’s one of their endearing qualities – sometimes they just do get incredibly excited about nothing.
Then again, I thought, it might be a squirrel or a cat, so I trotted to the bathroom and threw open the window.
A large red fox looked guiltily up at me. It was all a bit awkward because in his jaws he had a frantically flapping chicken. He was quite obviously trying to eat Chicken Licken, who was doing her chicken best not to be eaten.
OI!!!!!!!!!! I roared at him and raced downstairs, expecting to find one nonchalant fox and one dead Licken.
Instead, I found no fox and three frantic chickens all desperate to get into the house. I opened the door and checked for fox. No fox. I picked up Licken and put her back outside, Lily pushed her way in and Dave had his head through the narrow gap. I picked up Lily, put her outside and closed the door.
There were feathers all over the place but no blood. Licken was frightened but not obviously harmed. And there was still no sign of the fox.
GIRLS! DOWN HERE NOW! I roared.
“You need to get the chickens back in their coop, a fox just tried to eat Licken.”
Millie bursts into tears, Amber starts to put her boots on.
“I don’t want to – what if the fox comes back?” says Millie.
“I’m half naked,” I tell her. “While I quickly get dressed you need to get the chickens safely back in their coop and make sure the fox doesn’t return.”
“What?” says Amber.
“If the fox comes back you need to run at him and shout as loud as you can – scare him away. I’m going to quickly go and get dressed.”
Amber nods and puts her boots on.
“Can’t you come out with us?” whimpers Millie.
“No, I need to get dressed first. Look, get your boots on now, quickly!”
“Is Lily all right?” asks Millie.
“Yes, but you need to get out there now and make sure.”
“What if she isn’t all right?” asked Millie.
“That’s what you need to make sure – and keep the fox away.”
“Put your boots on and help the chickens,” I say, rather more loudly than necessary.
Amber opens the door. A chicken tries to get indoors, closely followed by two other chickens.
“They’re trying to get in!” Millie rather unnecessarily points out.
“You need to get out,” I reply, emphasizing the “you” and the “out”, before closing the door behind them and nearly decapitating a hysterical hen. The chickens are throwing themselves at the window trying to get indoors and Millie is in tears again – “They won’t move!”
“Look,” I say, “just keep an eye on them while I get dressed.”
Amber gets some chickenfeed to tempt them with.
Ten minutes later and we’ve somehow managed to get all three chickens back inside their coop at the same time and they have calmed down a little. Licken has lost a lot of feathers, but there’s no blood or obvious injuries.
Millie has finally calmed down, and both girls talk about nothing else all the way to school.
We’ve all learned some valuable lessons: that foxes are easily scared by half-naked bald men shouting OI!!! at them from a bathroom window, but also that Amber is surprisingly cool in a crisis. 🙂