Deadly Mr Fox...if you’re a hen

On Saturday morning, my daughter Grace came running in, shouting that a fox was trying to take the hens “and their eggs too!" writes Denis Lehane.

On Saturday morning, my daughter Grace came running in, shouting that a fox was trying to take the hens “and their eggs too!”

While I don’t have a great deal of time for the hens, I certainly like their eggs.

The pair lay the best eggs in the whole world. Prize winners every time.

A day without one of their eggs, is a day hardly worth living, in my book.

So heaven help any fox who thinks he can get between me and my eggs.

Gracie didn’t have to wait long for her dad to spring into action,

“I’d better put on my wellingtons, so Gracie” says I, for at that moment, I was in the bed, and ’tis rarely that I wear my wellingtons in the bed.

Grace, my eight-year-old daughter, is devoted to the birds, and collects the eggs every morning without fail.

Two eggs six days a week, and one egg on a Sunday morning, as one of the hens enjoys a rest day.

And I don’t begrudge her that.

I’d do the same myself, if I was a hen.

“Stay indoors, Grace,” I warned, as I left the house, brandishing a firearm.

The wellingtons were on, the gun was cocked, and I was keen to let Mr Fox have both barrels.

So out the door I went like Donald Trump himself, with my hair in a tussled state, and I eager to declare war on anything that moved.

Our two hens, Kate and Camilla Parker-Bowles (or Peck and Cluck for short), have been with us a good spell, and we have never in all that time allowed a fox spoil the fun.

Unfortunately, by the time I arrived at the hen house, the cunning fox had gone.

I saw him hightail it up the field as I approached, but I let off a warning shot all the same, to show him that I meant business.

I have found down through the years that this warning shot works well, with all types of unwelcome visitors.

The hens, I’m glad to report, got through the event unharmed, surviving both the fox and the gunfire.

Anyhow, that night, as I prepared to go to bed,

I looked out the window, only to discover my red-haired devil, and he skulking around outside in the bushes.

Well I can tell you, I was both shocked and horrified to find him back so soon, but even in my state of undress, out once again I charged.

This time more like a bare-chested Vladimir Putin.

The fox was in for it now, I really meant business.

The bushes rustled as I closed in for the kill and, raising my gun to blast him to kingdom come, I roared “Halt or I’ll fire”.

Which, on refection, was a strange thing to roar, for it mattered little whether he halted or ran.

The plan was to shoot regardless of his movements.

But as I steadied myself to pull the trigger, what should appear in the bushes only the orange head of a Jersey bull calf.

The prowler wasn’t a fox at all, he was a calf.

Naturally, a ceasefire was called, for to shoot a calf would be the action of an idiot.

Especially after he costing me €5 to purchase back in the spring, and a bag of milk replacer and nuts since.

I would have been shooting my profits in the arse, if I was to shoot the calf.

So the Jersey returned to the bushes and I went to my bed. As for the two hens, they slept soundly, oblivious to all the dangers lurking around the farm.

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