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Letter From The Other Side: ‘Not by the hair on my chinny-chin-chin.’

...Our neighbour who lives across the road left for Melbourne for a much needed holiday. We were happy to agree to care for her girls. Four lovely Isa Brown hens...

But then a hungry fox put in an appearance, as Cynthia (Liz Thompson) reveals in thos letter to her friend on the other side of the state.

The snow is still deep up on the mountain slopes but spring is stirring in the valleys. Birds are unravelling the coconut fibre from the flower hanging baskets and taking the threads from the weed matting edges to make their nests. Even when the dogs are brushed they sit around in groups deciding if they want the spaniel or the German Shepherd colour this year.

The male bower bird has stolen every blue flower out of the garden to impress his harem.

Cats are strolling the streets at night howling their feline love songs in what to them is a delightful serenade and when the males come to blows, the losers of the fence top fights are taken to the vet to have their abscesses syringed. The owners, after paying a large bill, are given the dubious pleasure of tending to a spitting cat as they try to deal with the drainage tubes. This process often leads to the owner swabbing blood from scratches on her hands after being swatted by flailing claws.

Cats appear to have no sense of appreciation toward veterinary or nursing care.

The young foxes have been kicked out of home to find their way in the world and to make room for this year’s family. As with the young of all species they are rather naive and lazy. The foxes sniff out the nearest chook pen to get a breakfast they don’t have to chase and hunt down.

Our neighbour who lives across the road left for Melbourne for a much needed holiday. We were happy to agree to care for her girls. Four lovely Isa Brown hens.

Her dog went with her and so to my horror the first morning I crossed the road to feed the girls and collect the eggs I came upon a nasty scene. One hen gone and another badly mauled. Blood spattered feathers were spread across the bottom of the pen and I could easily follow the trail of where the fox had run with his take-away meal. The two hens left were looking very agitated and obviously not in the mood to lay any eggs.

A large hole under the pen’s wire was a clear indication of where the fox had easily burrowed under to grab his meal.

Just our luck. First day Barbara is away and this happens.

Teddy immediately went across to kill the severely damaged bird and gave it a decent burial in the compost heap. He then sorted through the sheds until he found enough wire to put an apron of it right around the pen and half way up the sides so that the fox couldn’t have his meal as easily the next day. For it was a certainty he would be back.

After a couple of days the remaining chooks seemed to have recovered and were laying two lovely eggs a day. They obviously didn’t suffer a long bereavement and probably took the view that the extra greens they were getting made the episode worth while.

Our friend returned home a little sad but philosophical about her loss and planned to replace the two dead girls.

The very first night she was home her dog woke her just before dawn insisting she go out into the frosty garden. There was a commotion down at the chook pen. The noise echoed off the hill opposite and started every dog in the town barking, including ours who just love a good rowdy dollop of excitement to start their day.

The young woman who lives next door to Barbara was awake early and had seen the fox getting under the hen house. Her dogs had also joined in the melee and were doing laps of her back yard.

By sheer chance she was appropriately dressed for the occasion in her ‘Zena Queen of The Jungle’ leopard patterned mini pyjamas.

She clambered over the wire fence which separates the properties and ran into the hen house, bravely stamping her foot onto the fox’s head as he tried to back out from under the chicken wire. At the same time she was calling for her husband to come and help.

The two remaining chooks were squawking and franticly dithering about. Torn between running to some place of safety but glued to their perches by fear as they stared down at the fox beneath the foot of the screaming woman dressed in flimsy leopard spotted clothing. They cackled hysterically not knowing what to do.

By the time Barbara had thrown some clothes on, shoved her feet into her gardening boots and arrived at the scene of mayhem, the young husband was emerging like an executioner from the tower of London, his axe dripping with blood and a look of grim pleasure on his face. His wife’s foot had survived in tact but the fox hadn’t.

Teddy has since put a solid base in the chook house for Barbara but her girls have decided while they wait for their nerves to recover there is more to life than laying omelette ingredients.

When the fox was laid out on the back lawn we could all see what a truly magnificent animal he was and felt rather sad he had chosen to break into the hen house.

Foxes are not a native species in Australia and are considered vermin because they kill so many native animals, although they also kill a lot of rabbits, which are also not native animals. At times rabbits have been in plague proportions in the country, inflicting enormous damage on the land.

In defence of the fox, he was just doing what any species will do, trying to provide for himself.

Hens are another imported species to the country, but they are useful to the inhabitants and so are reprieved.

It comes down to the fact that if something is useful to man they are spared. If not, they may be hunted or lose their habitat.

Vale Mr Fox, you were a lovely animal.

I’ve noticed I haven’t heard the blackbird that was beginning to tune-up for the season. His song seems to have stopped. Blackbirds are also not native birds and some gardeners don’t like the way they flip mulch and soil onto the paths and dig up seedlings as they search for worms and grubs. Perhaps someone has trapped the songster and done away with him.

It’s a hard life surviving in a world when your personal instincts and habits upset the ruling species.

Hooroo from,



Do visit Liz.s Web site http://elizabeththompsonmywrite.blogspot.com/


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