Country mouse: Autumn changes

I have found through bitter experience that May and late summer are the times when I’m most likely to lose chickens to the fox. In May, vixens desperate for food to feed their cubs become emboldened by hunger, but now, it’s the turn of the cubs themselves, who start to disperse and seek their own easy pickings. Attacks can happen in broad daylight, so it’s worth being extra careful with your flock, but, whatever you do, don’t forget to lock the chooks up at night.

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The other nuisances at this time of year are rats. I saw several in the car park of a supermarket at the weekend, but for us country dwellers, it’s the harvest and the colder nights that encourage the rodents to move from the fields to our barns and houses. Traps or poison should be used to intercept them. I failed to heed this advice last year and both my car and that of my neighbours had electrics chewed by the rats before I’d got on top of them. It was an expensive mistake.

The terriers, meanwhile, are being driven mad by a woodpigeon that’s sitting on a nest in an olive tree in their backyard. The maiden flight of the fledglings had better be a good one, or it’ll end in the jaws of a Lucas terrier.

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