Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Fox Says...

I realize it isn't officially spring quite yet, but it's close!
Our fox friends say so! 

We have a fox family who made their home smack dab in the middle of our corn field last year! We're assuming it's the same fox family that has made dens around our place for the past few years. One year they burrowed into the side of the road bank where the culvert goes under the road and we could see their den entrance from our yard and from my bedroom window. Another year they settled under the neighbors old granary, and we loved watching the little pups playing in the yard every time we walked by.   
This current den has been through quite a bit already as Cliff remembered seeing it, but not being sure what it was, when he was planting last spring. That means that it survived spring planting, herbicide spray, fall harvest and plowing already!
We can see the fox den from our living room / dining room windows and from our patio on the side of the house where we spend the most time. We keep a set of binoculars right next to the patio door so we can get a closer look at what they're up to. We enjoyed watching them this fall and winter, until early January when they suddenly disappeared. Every morning and every evening we could see one or both of them lying on top of the snow outside the den, soaking in some sun. They were even out there when the sun was not out and it seemed too cold to be lying out in the wind and cold.
One of our neighbors asked if we would mind if he brought some table scraps out to the fox den, since it has been such a harsh winter and we all knew there wasn't much easy access to food in the wild this winter (although we're fairly confident that they were probably well fed this summer, given that Stripes and two of her kittens mysteriously disappeared mid-July). We told the neighbor that would be just fine with us if he wanted to put some food out for the foxes.
That was mid-January and that was the last time we had seen the foxes. A day or two later, we thought at first glance that there were fox pups crawling around on the snow outside the den, but when we looked closer, we saw that it was crows. Yes, crows. I was sure that meant the foxes were gone. They had either left (maybe because their den had been tampered with) or they had died (possibly of starvation?). I knew there was no way that crows would risk feeding at the entrance to a fox den, free lunch or not! Crows may not be very smart, but they can't be that dumb. They would be lunch before they knew what hit them!
For weeks, we held out hope that maybe one day we would see a fox emerge from that den. It snowed and snowed and snowed and there was no sign of life at all from that little mound out in the field. No freshly dug dirt dusted over the top of the clean snow, no paw prints or trails or any other evidence of life. We researched the red fox on the internet in the hope of learning that they do, in fact, hibernate and of course we were reassured that they do not, in fact, hibernate.   
We did read that fox mate in January and occasionally "den up" immediately following mating season and that pups can be born March, but the fox do still need to eat, so one of them would have to be leaving the den to hunt. When the temperature reached 51 on Monday quite a bit of our snow melted and I was so excited when I saw dirt on the snow outside the fox den, until I realized that it was just the old dirt that was not exposed because all of the fresh white snow that was on top had melted away, exposing the dirty ice and snow underneath.

...and then it happened...
This morning I got up early with Addison and happened to glance out the patio door and out of the corner of my eye I saw a lovely dark shape on top of the fox den. I quickly set Addison down and grabbed the binoculars from the hutch beside the patio door! My heart was actually racing and I was holding my breath in anticipation. It's been at least six weeks since we last saw any sign of the fox and I was anxious to figure out what I was seeing...
and there it was... one of the foxes was lying on top of the snow outside the den. It picked it's head up and looked around a few times. It stood up and turned in a circle before lying back down again. I had to go wake Cliff. I went in to the bedroom with the binoculars in my hands and sung in my sweet sing-songy voice so as not to alarm him so early in the morning, "Guess who I just saaaaw out and about in the snooooow..." and he said "no way!"

Yay! They live!
I love foxes and I loved them long before this crazy fox-frenzy that has popped up in the last year. I like to say I liked foxes before foxes were cool. Same with owls. I have had a thing for owls for years and suddenly owls are everywhere!

Some of my favorite Fox images:

Love this little guy...
Source: joojoo Etsy shop

Lonely Winter Fox by Teagan White

Fritz the Fruit-Foraging Fox by Teagan White

...and the hedgehog because I think the hedgehog or porcupine will be the next rage and I just want you to know how much I loved him before he was all the rage.

Source: joojoo on Etsy


...and my alltime favorite Teagan White illustration...

I hope to order a large print of this one and hang it up in my kids' playhouse. I just love this one and how all of the little animals are "helping". That little fox came all ready to work with his screwdrivers strapped over his shoulder! So cute!

1 comment:

april said...

Glad to hear your foxes are thriving. I myself have been wanting to have a hedgehog for a pet for many years now! They're so adorable...