When a person begins raising livestock, it’s remarkable how swiftly one’s attitude toward wildlife — especially potential predators — changes. Overnight, “cute” becomes “Quick! Don’t let it get away!” Especially after a time or two of witnessing the mayhem that those “cute” little critters are capable of inflicting. I’ll never forget the mornings I’ve followed a trail of blood and feathers into a field, trying to locate the spot where a predator finished off his victim.
Several years back, when we were living in Illinois, our farm was separated from a small housing development by about a mile of open fields. One morning, while driving along the road running in front of that development, I noticed a new homemade sign. It read, “SLOW! BABY FOXES”, and had an arrow pointing down to a culvert where a mother fox had made a den. My first thought was: Whoever made this sign so doesn’t have livestock. My second thought was: I wonder how many of my chickens the mother fox will make off with to feed these babies. My third thought was: I wonder how many of my chickens these babies will make off with once they grow up.
Fortunately, we haven’t been hit with predator strikes any time recently. But I did spot a raccoon in a large tree across the street a couple of nights ago, peering across at our farm, so I suppose it’s just a matter of time. (I didn’t have a clean shot at him, and he wasn’t on our property anyway.) And while Homeschooled Farm Girl and I were out on a long bicycle ride this weekend, we saw a mother raccoon with six little ones run across the road in front of us. I made a mental note to re-bait and re-set our traps once I got home.
Needless to say, I got a smile out of this article that I recently stumbled across:
A man was biking to work one day when by the side of the road he noticed a poor fox that lay dying. Here is his account of what transpired:
I’m sure the person who posted it thought it was heartwarming. The overwhelming majority of people who commented on it certainly did. I’m also confident that few — if any — of them raise livestock.
And I suppose on one level this is a heartwarming story — but don’t blame me for being conflicted. I’m just hoping the fox in question gets to live out the rest of his days being cared for in a very secure zoo or other wildlife facility. Far from my farm.