A very close shave with a fox has curtailed the range of our two hens, Chick Pea and Runner Bean. The rule used to be that they could have the run of the garden as long as we were either out there with them or in the kitchen, close by. But then there was the heart-stoppingly scary encounter with a fox and now they're allowed out only if one of us or Truffle, our dog, is "henherding". So, what happened? I hear you ask.
Well, first I heard absolutely hysterical squawking, much worse than when Truffle takes a too close interest in their bottoms, and everything went into slow motion, like it does in a crisis. I glanced towards the deck to see this huge, very bright and bushy-tailed fox - clearly not a bit in need of sustenance - literally on top of Chick Pea about to go in for the kill. I shouted, it seemed very slowly, "No-o-o-o-o-o-o!" and moved, like a moon walker in lead boots, towards the back door, wrenched it open and chased off the fox.
By now everything was at normal speed again, except the fox, which was moving quite fast, and my heartbeat which was threatening to give me a stroke. No sign of CP, but I had the vague impression she may have run into the kitchen. RB was pecking nonchalantly down by their coop. The fox had by now alighted on our neighbour's shed and was lying there, looking at me insouciantly. I believe I may have shaken my fist at it.
I secured RB in the coop and moved back towards the house, looking for CP. No sign. Kitchen - no sign. I glanced up and saw her huddled against the front door, as far away from the garden as she thought it was possible to get, not having considered upstairs, thank goodness (think of the poo on the stairs!). By the time I got near she'd disappeared again but I found her cowering behind the waste-paper basket under the hall table. Picking her up, heroically thinking I wouldn't mind how soggy with blood and other goo she might be, I was surprised to find no sign of injury and we both stood in the hall for a few minutes, me hugging her, waiting for our heartbeats to return to something like normal. Having heard hens could die of shock, I braced myself the next morning when going to collect the eggs but no, there she was, happy as a hen who's forgotten all about the most exciting thing that had happened to her in her life. To date.