I’m not sure if they are remarkably intelligent or remarkably dim witted. My curiosity first got roused a few days ago when I opened their run to give them freedom.  This is a frequent event for the chickens, a little free range potter around the garden every few days.  Usually I open the door and they dash past me and straight to the back garden.  They make a beeline for the base of the old plum tree to devour any fallen seeds from the bird feeders.  A few days ago they broke pattern.  Specifically three of them broke pattern and habit, and choose to stay in the run looking carefree.  Three days later it happened again, with the same three looking down at their feet and looking nonchalant.  Then I wondered… do they know something the others don’t? Is there a fox about?

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The foxes are something we never ever see here.  We hear them attempt break ins in the small hours.  We hear them barking in the parts of the morning that are too early to really be morning.  Their barks are a strange kind of ghostly howl, unearthly; but we never see them.  Instinct has trained them to keep well away from humans here, specifically the shotguns.  Today I heard a discussion about the fox attack on a baby.  It seems most likely that this may be a mistake of human behaviour and not fox behaviour.  I’m not talking about anything the family may have done, I am talking about the habit that has been growing.  A habit of feeding the foxes and even letting them into our own homes like their domesticated cousins.  These foxes have no more fear of us or our houses.

I never bumped into any foxes tonight.  I stumbled around in the darkness in my squelching wellies with my head torch shedding small light on a narrow patch of the garden.  I was adding wood ash to the fruit bushes and trees.  All winter we have been hoarding all our wood ash and we are clueless about its use.  I know only three things for certain.  One is that it must not be added while there is too much rain.  The second thing I know is that if I leave it too long then my father in law will tell me that I left it too late.  The third thing I am certain of, is now that I have added it, my father in law will tell me I added it too soon.

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Tonight I noticed the ground was a little drier.  I then noticed that the weather forecast said very little about any pending big atlantic low looming on the horizon.  I stole a half hour away from the little man and the little lady after their bedtime, and I went night gardening…

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