This morning I drove down to the road to pick up my morning newspaper and the mail from yesterday. I know, I know, I should walk, but it’s a long way and generally I don’t, especially when it’s cold and foggy, as it was this morning.
As I was sitting in the car going through the mail before driving back to the house, the biggest dog fox I have ever seen in my life burst out of the long grass in the small uncut paddock just north of me, glanced at me and tore across the road to the tract of undeveloped woods—fifty acres or so of it—on the other side.
I have not seen him nor any of his family for a couple of years. I felt certain they were gone. I missed them, although I saw them seldom. Usually together.
I’m fairly certain this was the dog fox and not the vixen. I think dog foxes are generally bigger, and this guy must weigh forty pounds. Red foxes can apparently either be red or gray or occasionally black, although they are still called red foxes. This guy had a gray brush (tail) with a big white pompon on the end of it, but his body was flame-colored. Now, of course, I have to worry about his safety when he crosses the road. I wish he’d stay on my side. I wouldn’t mind his coming into my barn at night. Heaven knows I have enough field mice in my feed room to sate his entire family’s hunger.
I had been kind of hoping the foxes were still around. A couple of months ago when my friend Beverly and I were driving my big Zoe on the edge of the copse in my pasture, Zoe stopped dead, came up off her front feet, and backed up precipitously. Not a good thing when driving a four-wheel cart. A two-wheel cart backs fairly straight. Four wheels—not so much. I got her stopped, let her stand and huff a minute at what she obviously considered a safe distance from whatever she smelled, then turned her and went the other way. Later after we’d turned her out after driving, Beverly and I went hunting for the area that upset her. We found a lovely fallen tree that had created a natural den. Either the foxes and their kits were out for the day, or long gone. We never actually saw them, and the next time we drove that way, Zoe did not react, but trotted right by what we supposed had been a den.
So, spotting Brer Fox was a rare and happy event this morning. To the best of my knowledge nobody around here raises chickens or guinea hens, so poultry is not in danger from their predations. I prefer them to the coyotes, who are a danger to the pet dogs in the area. So, I will listen for their yips and worry about their road crossings and hope that they will let me enjoy seeing them in the mornings.
On another subject, my new romance, which is about skunks, is coming along. Somehow all my books seem to involve animals. Maybe that’s because I have a tendency to prefer them to human beings. Whoops! I never said that!