An encore for Yorick


Alas, poor Yorick!
I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.

The King’s jester was perhaps a man of excellent fancy but the presence of a Gray Fox on the farm is no reason to celebrate. I am as much a nature lover as the next person, and foxes in their proper place are a thing of beauty, but a farm has to have rules and one of ours is that the presence of an intruder which either absconds with or attempts to abscond with one of Joanna’s animals is strongly discouraged. A varmint is a troublesome wild animal; how troublesome is the issue. Many folks who live in rural areas have difficult visitors that get into their trash, while others have marauders which help themselves to garden produce. We have a number of trespassing deer, crows, sparrows, racoons, opossums, porcupines, snakes, and rats that help themselves to stored grain, (expensive) animal feed, and to lots and lots of (very expensive) cat food. And, these we deal with. It is the visits from hawks, weasels, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, and bear that we cannot abide. While the first three have taken poultry, bobcats have helped themselves to chickens and even a barn cat on a couple of very rare occasions. Bear have thus far limited themselves to destruction of the bird feeders. I was walking the stone wall which forms our property boundary to the east and found a nearly complete, though mostly dis-articulated, skeleton of a Gray Fox. Please do not think me heartless when I say that I was not in the least upset. One day last spring Joanna was upstairs when she heard a commotion coming from the backyard. She also noticed a general movement of spectating cats and chickens toward the noise. Having experienced this sort of coincidence before she was down stairs and out of the house in a flash. As soon as she turned the corner she saw a Gray Fox making off with one of her prized Brahma laying hens. Without hesitation she launched toward the offending canine and yelled …

D .. R .. O .. P IT!

And he did. Thankfully the bird had been nabbed by a mouthful of its tail feathers and those, along with a bit of her dignity, were all that were lost in the altercation. Although we are not wildlife biologists, our observations tell us that foxes range widely such that they tend to drop in at the farm at intervals of several weeks. We had seen this individual, or another of his ilk, while snow still blanketed the ground, with his face buried to the ears in a bowl of Purina’s best. So it was without sorrow that I came upon the remains of Urocyon cinereoargenteneus cinereoargenteneus this week. Forgive me but once these stealthy predators become habituated to environs about the house they are problematic and a difficulty waiting to happen.

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