Foxen

I know they aren’t really called Foxen, but I like that word better.

I wondered about Frances over the winter- if she survived without anything to scavenge (there are very few people around at the lake Nov-Mar), if she had babies in March like I’d read red fox do.

Jimmy, our next door neighbor, was up from Illinois over Memorial weekend. We were in his yard, along with the neighbors from the other side, Ray and Kathy, catching up after the long winter.

“We gotta fox,” Jimmy said. Jimmy’s always looking for a reason to use his .22.

“Don’t shoot the fox, Jimmy,” Kathy said. I was happy to have an ally.

“We like the fox,” I added, “so please don’t shoot her.”

“Do you like bunny rabbits and grouse? ‘Cause you ain’t gonna have either with that fox around,” Jimmy argued.

“It’s not really fair to shoot the fox after we’ve tamed it,” Kathy said, “it likes hotdogs.”

“We want the fox,” I said, in answer to Jimmy’s question.

“I’d rather have grouse,” he muttered, but he knew he lost the battle, “I can eat them.”

(“I’ve never once seen Jimmy grouse hunt,” J said later.)

We saw 12 grouse while on vacation- a mom with 11 tiny chicks who each could not have been bigger than my thumb.

Jimmy stopped by the next morning as he and his wife Sue returned from the morning fishing trip.

“You gotta tree down in my yard again, go on down and look. You ain’t gonna believe what happened to it.”

We have the one stand of woods between two mowed and manicured lawns.

We walked down to inspect, deducing “beaver” the same as Jimmy had. It was a small tree, an aspen, and we have a million of those.

The next night the beaver took two more trees.

“Can I shoot HIM?” Jimmy asked.

“I was thinking maybe a wolf statue? Or coyote urine?” I answered.

Jimmy shook his head as he walked away, muttering, “Wolf statue…”

I saw the beavers this week again. It’s a mom and a pup. Cutest ever. We also put cages around all the trees that mattered. Fixed that right up and didn’t have to shoot anyone!

I never saw Frances fox that weekend, too many people around I suspect, so I was thrilled to see her three times the first morning I woke up at the lake this week.

I’d brought some rotisserie chicken that had been in the freezer at home, just for her.

It was long about day three when she sat down in the yard, to contemplate the piece of bacon on the step, that we saw she was a he.

Frankie’s been eating good this week. Fox, I learned in my research last year, hide food for later.

We watched him take a mouthful of chicken carefully in his mouth, dig a hole in the neighbor’s backyard and bury it. The next day I saw him dig up a different spot, and eat whatever was there.

So far Frankie has had a whole chicken, three salmon fillets, two hamburger patties, the leftover steak and roast beef, scrambled eggs, carrots, potatoes, and some chicken sandwich meat. Oh, and bacon. The bacon is a special treat.

I figured he was hiding most of it, but then this morning I poked my head out of the camper and there was Frankie so I said, “Hang on I will get you a treat” and I went back into the camper. He’s smart enough to have figured out he should hang around when I do that. When I came back out there were two Frankies! Two Foxys!

I told them they can bring the kids by anytime for a snack, that I’d love to meet them. I can’t believe all this time we only saw one fox at a time.

They clearly own the place now, and have made it home. We can hear them calling to each other, a soft short bark that sounds like the neighbor’s ankle biter if you don’t know any better.

I left them all the leftovers when we packed up today. Maybe next time I’ll get to meet the kids…

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