All it takes is a moment for an illusion to be shattered.
Since our homesteading adventures take place in suburbia, predator control has never been a concern of ours. Wolves, bears, bobcats… none of them live around here. Sure, we know smaller predators like skunks and raccoons are everywhere, but we’ve got a fence, right?
Well, it’s all been an illusion that we’ve allowed ourselves to fall into. Today there was a fox in the pen with the animals. He was looking at the ducks with great interest… I just happened to be heading outside at that time and noticed him. When he took off I could see where he’d dug a hole under the fence to get in. Fortunately, everyone was present and accounted for after his departure.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the fox showed up after our kids had been away visiting Rachel’s parents. Our yard has been quiet and non-threatening for 10 days… perfect for a secretive predator looking for a duck dinner. I’ve never considered our kids to be part of predator control, but it would make sense that they are.
Even with the kids back, we can’t risk losing livestock to a fox no matter how big or small. This really creates a conundrum for us. Removing the fox by way of a trap or animal control is an option, but the removal of one fox is no guarantee another won’t move in to claim the empty territory. We don’t have enough animals to where investing the time and money into a livestock guardian dog would be worth it. Donkeys have an innate hatred of all things canine/feline/vulpine, and are not expensive to maintain or purchase. Yet, we really don’t intend to add any more animals. Three goats and our flock of ducks and chickens give us all that we need, and though we’re comfortable with the upkeep they require, we don’t want to add anything to that. So, a guardian donkey isn’t in our future either.
A motion detecting light is certainly in order to inhibit attacks at night. Unfortunately that won’t help us with attacks during the day, and this fox was scoping out the scene in the late morning. We could do electric fencing, but if a stick should fall from a tree and lean against it, the current would be broken and therefore render the electric fence useless. Since most of the pen is in the woods, this isn’t practical either.
Something must be done, but though ideas are many, actual solutions are few. We’ll be sitting here puzzling over it the next few days. For now, there’s no rain in the forecast, so I have an oscillating fan on an extension cord out by where the turkeys are. The sound and the motion should discourage any plundering. You work with what you have in the moment, I guess.