There is a scary event that is becoming a disturbing ritual around here. The barn, with its sleeping loft, is down at the more forested part of the property. So we see lots of wildlife — most of it in the evening and most of it staying a healthy distance away from the smell of terriers. But despite Oscar’s daily attempts to mark a wide circumference around the barn as his “turf”, there is one group of animals who are challenging him for control.
Ironically, it’s the foxes. Yes, those varmints our Smooth Fox Terriers have been bred and perfected for centuries to hunt. Several hundred years ago, the Smooth Fox Terrier was cross-bred with Italian Greyhounds — to make them longer-legged, faster and sleeker than foxes. The most fearless were bred to ensure that the Smoothies would have no hesitation diving down a a fox hole and dragging out a snarling, biting fox. So fearless were Smoothies in going after their prey, tail docking was introduced so a shorter, more muscular tail would allow the hunt master to pull the terrier out of the hole without hurting him. Once a terrier got a bite on a fox, nothing the fox could do was going to make him let go.
Despite all these genetic advantages, in the rumble here between The Foxes and The Terriers, I’m not sure but what the Foxes are winning.
The battle starts during the day, when Oscar and Lucy do a wide sweep of the area around the barn looking for fox poo. Then Oscar dutifully wees on every pile — which can be translated in Terrier to “Get Off My Lawn!” But at night, the foxes mount their counter-offensive. That consists of coming out of the brush from all sides and slowly converging on the barn while yipping their eery territory-marking bark. If you have no idea of the variety and scariness of the sounds foxes can make, check out this site. Scroll down and listen to fox_territory_call.wav. That’s the sound we hear from multiple directions as a posse of foxes slowly converges on the barn.
And those fearless foes of foxes, the Fox Terriers? They dive under the covers the minute the barks get too close. It’s like something out of a George Romero horror film. The zombies are surrounding the building and we’re barricaded inside with guns, ammo and ten pound bags of kibble. Luckily, just like zombies, the foxes retreat in the daytime.
However, I have seen one or two of them slinking under our fence and across the road to the undeveloped woodland. These aren’t little dachshund sized foxes. These are big hefty, bruiser foxes. One I saw had a body at least the size of Oscar’s. Which is surprising. I thought predators grew larger or smaller based on their position in the food chain. Where there are no wolves, coyotes grow bigger and move into that niche. Where wolves exist, coyotes are smaller and prey on smaller game. Well, we’ve got Mountain Lions, coyotes and bobcats, all of whom would seem to outrank the foxes. The foxes haven’t gotten the memo.
But then, this ain’t no poofy English countryside. This is the West, where the foxes are zombies.
Oh, and if you are interested in Wild Ed’s fox adventures, here’s his site. It’s worth a read. He even has links for what he calls “Predator and Varmint Hunting”. Not our taste, we’d prefer to hide under the covers.