Country mouse – Mark Hedges

The old cockerel is no more. He was killed, together with his entourage of hens, by a fox, almost certainly a vixen with cubs to feed. She was last seen struggling over the fence with one of the Maran hens in her mouth. The vixen must have been pretty desperate to come so close to our house so early in the evening when the sky was still bright. When I opened the back door, I’m not sure which of us was more surprised by the sight that greeted us the fox, the terrier or me.

For a moment, we stood and looked at each other in horrified amazement. Then, at the terrier’s first growl, the fox hit the turbo charge and was gone. I was furious with myself. The old cockerel must have been close to seven years old. He and his hens didn’t deserve such a violent death, and it was my fault for not locking them up a few minutes earlier. May and June always see the most audacious fox attacks, as the vixens are desperate to feed their cubs. If you have poultry, now is the time to be doubly vigilant.