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Mon Jun 4, 2012, 09:34 AM

 

Fox in the Garden

Last edited Mon Jun 4, 2012, 09:55 PM - Edit history (1)

THERE'S a fox in my garden.

There's a young, small brown fox who has decided that my cottage/woodland garden yard is its new home. I found it curled up asleep on top of the stone wall where the powder-blue star-shaped flowers of the campanula are now in full bloom and spilling over the edge in the morning sun to mingle with the dark-green blades of lirope at the bottom.

It was such an iconic and natural sight that I waited several minutes -- studying this 'wild' resident of our wooded community with fondness and admiration -- until I woke the sleeping beauty with a 'hey!' and a finger pointing in the direction I wanted it to leave. The small, summer resident woodpeckers had already been chattering away like mad. They looked to have decided that I'd gotten a new pet and were arguing their birdie case to me; as much as they were chastising my slumbering visitor.

My fox woke up without the ability to see, as the sunny spot it had chosen put a glare of light between us. It squinted at me at first through one open eye; the other shut as if it intended to snooze just a little bit longer. Then it leapt up and made as quick an exit as it could out of the back of the yard; loping along as fast as its sleep-interrupted instincts could manage.

I'd seen the fox for a few successive years at the back of the yard, sunning itself along the ridge separating the properties. I'd long suspected it had made a temporary home back where I'd dumped a few Christmas trees over the years and may have made a small shelter there.

I've had the lids lifted, carefully, from my trash cans -- and although I suspected it had been a raccoon, I had only seen the fox (and smelled his markings, as well). The other night, I called my wife to the front window in the middle of the night to see our fox weaving in and out of the daylilies, hunting for mice and stuff; barely making itself seen above the dense growth. The next morning I found it had peed on almost every bush in the yard to mark its space.

I wasn't too thrilled to see it taking advantage of the center of my yard, though; even less happy to find its making a regular bed right where I'm trying to naturalize several flowering plants.

I had a beautiful doe with a white rump and splotched coat who had also adopted my yard as her own, and had nibbled a couple of my Asian lilies from the buds right down to the stem. I went out to shoo it away in person one morning, but the sight of this gorgeous deer floored me so much that I froze in place and just went back inside without shooing it away.

I have hoped, to myself, that the fox pee would keep the doe from eating my lilies.

I'm concerned about the potential dangerousness of this beauty of nature, though. I'm worried about it becoming too comfortable being so close to humans (our own, esp.) and the prospect that someone will get bitten. I'd have the same concerns about any stray dog who had gone to ground.

Yet, I'm a bit sad that we can't enjoy this beautiful and bountiful yard on the same terms. It is, after all, meant to be a refuge for nature's offspring. We do need to maintain our respect for our established boundaries, though. Even our birds knew that, instinctively, as they raised the alarm at the opportunistic intruder who, very likely, has made a meal out of some of their offspring.

I'd like to be able to interact and live compatibly with nature and its creatures; great and small. I want to help preserve and create, if possible, as much species habitat as I'm able. Heaven knows how much road and housing development has eliminated and reduced that habitat over the decades. The least we can do it to try and maintain as much as we can; helping to preserve the woodland's denizens as we work to preserve their macro and micro environments.

We have it pretty good where I live. Our community was planned to incorporate nature with the development. We have foot and bike trails which lead almost everywhere you want to go in town. We have trees, galore, and a few small lakes within walking distance. I live in a cu-de-sac neighborhood with minimal traffic. It's really a suburban paradise.


Like most residential areas near large cities, we are feeling the pressure to develop more and further reduce our greenways and other open spaces

We have a county executive who is relatively young, but has risen to the top of our local political establishment. He's also a longtime resident, having grown up right here in town; attended the local schools; knows the community. He's a Democrat, as well.

I first met Ken Ullman when he was making his first run for office. He was going door to door in the neighborhood and I almost missed him as he came by my door. I ran up the street and caught him; shook his hand. He was an affable young man who had an appearance like he had just graduated high school that summer.

He was easily elected in our 'deep blue' community. I had a short conversation about our community with Mr. Ullman when we met. I told him of my concern that we keep and maintain our numerous community centers, and, at least, keep them 'community' centers. He quickly agreed, and he immediately got my vote.

Shortly after he took office, however, Mr. Ullman pushed the local board to reduce the density requirements for our town to allow developers to site buildings and homes closer together. It was a betrayal of what he had represented to me. How did this fresh-faced young man get into the developer's corner so fast?

Since then, I've taken to looking for a Democratic challenger to unseat him; one who promises to halt or slow the development. The shopping center/community center where the natural food store is that my wife works at is at risk of being completely torn down and replaced with a high-rise and office spaces. Naturally, Mr. Ullamn is a strong proponent of the changes. the approval, though, while moving steadily forward, has been predictably slow in winning over our civic-environment-inclined community leaders and advocates.

I imagine he'll eventually get his way and there will be some sort of compromise development which preserves the decades-old natural food store and the handful of other merchants who haven't yet left in the face of fast-increasing cost of leasing their space and bankrupted by the faltering local economy.

We're not optimistic.

Mr. Ullman is personally well liked around here, though. He's probably a good fit for this community; a lifetime resident, he's a natural part of our community landscape. We voted him in; we embraced him. Now he's so familiar and entrenched, I don't think we'll ever rid our selves of him.


Like other parts of the country, we've seen a massive reduction in the number of bees which visit our garden. So, when a wood-boring bumblebee came around last year and ate a perfect little hole into my wooden bench beside my back door and made a home for its mate, I hesitated to immediately look for a way to kill it. I've been without a pet for a while now, and I'm missing that companionship a bit. So, it wasn't really a surprise for my wife to find me downstairs this winter trying to get the plants we rescued from the cold to sit up and bark for me.

Likewise, it wasn't surprising that I made an uneasy truce with this aggressive bee (locust family, I think) and we had somehow learned to keep our distance from each other without the need for me to kill it or without provoking its need to sting someone here. We learned to live with it and added yet another legend to tell of our close relationship with another of nature's creatures.

This year, however, another bee came to the same spot and began work on its own hole. I found some natural insecticide and I coated the bench; spraying a bit on the bee when it returned. that seemed to do the trick. Unfortunately, the bee wasn't dissuaded from making its temporary home there. I went out a couple of days later and found the largest pile of bee-generated sawdust yet, and I knew I had failed to turn this bee around.

I had been pretty proud of myself for the restraint I had shown up until then, but, I was now thinking of all nature's creatures who had shown up last summer to invade the hive hole; most notably a trio of large wasps. I went inside and got a bottle of ant insecticide and started pumping it into the hole. I could hear desperate buzzing inside, so I knew I had it trapped. After a minute, or so of this mournful buzz and my bee fell out of the hole . . . and I smashed her immediately. I felt terrible. My wife says I did the right thing, but I still feel like I betrayed something basic and good inside of me. Oh, well . . .

I carefully checked my back yard this morning for any sign of my fox. I quietly sneaked around the side of the house and I didn't see it anywhere. However, when I went inside and looked out back through the window, my fox was back in its spot; curled up nicely and fast asleep in the morning's warm sun.

I sneaked out the door and crept up slowly and quietly to stand right above my handsome guest . . . I clapped my hands, loudly and shouted, 'Out!' at the top of my lungs.

I miss my fox, already. I'm certain I'll make even more of a fuss if it returns again.




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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply Fox in the Garden (Original post)
bigtree Jun 2012 OP
WingDinger Jun 2012 #1
bigtree Jun 2012 #2
Joseph28 Jun 2012 #3
bigtree Jun 2012 #4
Botany Jun 2012 #5
bigtree Jun 2012 #6
Botany Jun 2012 #8
raouldukelives Jun 2012 #7
bigtree Jun 2012 #9
Paul J.D. Jones Jun 2012 #10
bigtree Jun 2012 #11
librechik Jun 2012 #12
bigtree Jun 2012 #13
Doremus Jun 2012 #14
bigtree Jun 2012 #16
MadHound Jun 2012 #15
malaise Jun 2012 #17
bigtree Jun 2012 #18

Response to bigtree (Original post)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 10:00 AM

1. Make this a regular installment, and call the segment Fox News.

 

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Response to WingDinger (Reply #1)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 10:03 AM

2. good one, WingDinger!

 

I wonder if it's a right-wing fox?

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 10:12 AM

3. Fox in the Garden

 

[IMG][/IMG]much appreciated

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Response to Joseph28 (Reply #3)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 10:14 AM

4. thanks for reading, Joseph

 

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 10:28 AM

5. You have very little to fear from the Fox and he/she will help keep ....

.... mice, rabbits, voles, and even deer out of your garden. Fox can come to
accept being close to humans over time but will never become tame and or a
pet. Two things to remember is never feed it and avoid it at all costs if it looks
sick and or acting crazy. If you have a dog mange might be a problem but
it it wants to live around your garden that is a good thing.

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Response to Botany (Reply #5)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 10:35 AM

6. that's good info, botany. much appreciated

 

My feeling . . . good to have it around, sure, but maybe best to make it skittish around us humans.

My buddy is soooo relaxed! It came back around and curled up again in the same sunny spot, less than a half-hour after I chased it away. No more sign so far though, this time.

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Response to bigtree (Reply #6)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 11:05 AM

8. Just never touch or try to feed it and let it sleep where it wants to sleep .....

..... it can become your friend to the point that it might be interested
in what you are doing and maybe if it is a female it might have a
litter kits around your property. Mice, crickets, grasshoppers, berries,
earthworms, and other small things make up the majority of their
diet.

I was growing trees in a small plot in Ohio and for some reason a red fox
used to come and watch me work from the edge of the forest. I think it
was laughing at me most of the time.

Fox are intelligent and curious creatures and you are lucky to have one pick
you for its studies. As long as nobody has chickens or feeds their pets outdoors
around you you should have no problems.



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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 10:58 AM

7. I've seen quite a few foxes the last couple years.

Which is odd considering I only used to see them infrequently off the beaten path in the evening. Not running around the in the daytime. Something is making them come closer and closer to people around here. On top of this I have seen a drastic drop-off in the amount of deer, raccoons and birds in the area.
It seems my area suffers from many of your same issues. We support & elect Dems here who run with promises of protecting the environment and stopping the massive development taking place.
Then once they attain office it almost seems they work hand in hand with the developers. Paying a little lip service to the issues they ran on and nature in general while they endorse yet more development. More destruction of the natural landscape.
I used to be surrounded by sheep ranches. They had issues with coyotes and would hunt, trap and kill many of them causing a bit of consternation.
Now I'm surrounded by wineries. They have issues with every living creature and hunt trap and kill them all.
Needless to say, I miss the sheep ranchers. But not near as much as I miss people who actually do what they say they will. Liberals who actually believe in the core values. Not just to be used as a crutch to attain office and open a world of opportunity for themselves but to be stood up for and fought for. I'm starting to think those are a dying breed. While the foxes flourish in all shapes and sizes these days.

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Response to raouldukelives (Reply #7)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 11:14 AM

9. yes, indeed, raouldukelives

 

you get me . . . we've invited them in among us with the choices and efforts we've made. Preserving and defending species habitat is always going to fall behind the preservation and defense of our sweet selves. Development; as is our politics, is a jagged reflection of ourselves. Easier on us; most times that much harder on our environment. But, we always need to find a balance between our ambitions and the consequences of our actions. So, we find ways to live with the foxes. They're among us because we invited them in with our very behavior and attitudes toward our environment.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 12:22 PM

10. Foxy

 

Thanks for posting

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Response to Paul J.D. Jones (Reply #10)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 01:51 PM

11. thanks for reading, Paul

 

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 01:55 PM

12. I have seen foxes and even coyotes right downtown

We are relatively close to the river where there is much wildlife, but these are strays up to a mile or so from habitat, out in the busy street, hiding in sewer drains.

can't decide whether it is sad or a triumph of nature over adversity.

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Response to librechik (Reply #12)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 02:53 PM

13. that is sad, to me

 

the mental image is rather haunting, in fact.

They do triumph over adversity.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 03:19 PM

14. Any wildlife that comes into my yard is welcome.

I figure they have so much adversity in their lives, what with overdevelopment and overzealous property owners afraid or annoyed by their presence, that they are free to consider my little space their oasis. They are welcome to eat any vegetation they like and sleep in any nook or cranny they can discover. I only ask that they take it easy on each other -- no predatory killing, at least in my presence.

That last bit was tongue-in-cheek of course, but my main point is not. Humans have taken over practically every green space, and bulldozing more and more of it each year. The creatures have learned and are learning to adapt to living closer to us than they would prefer all things being equal, but we make it extremely difficult for them.

Your yard is lovely. Knowing that the local fauna is welcome there magnifies its beauty, imo. I hope you'll take it easy on the little fox. He has a hard life and could use a break from someone with a heart.


On edit:

I wanted to add that we also have carpenter bee(s). We're currently pondering the same dilemma you have addressed, and so far have let it/them alone. My research indicates that the males are unable to sting, they just hover around looking menacing. The ladies though can pack a wallup so it's best not to antangonize them. If they decide to nest in a structure other than a dilapidated shed we'll probably rethink our decision.

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Response to Doremus (Reply #14)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 08:12 PM

16. all good

 

Last edited Mon Jun 4, 2012, 09:01 PM - Edit history (1)

we're on the same page, Doremus. Thanks for defending my fox. I hope my yard birds and the rabbits who live in the hole in my front hill will forgive any room I give to my sun snoozer . . . I wonder how it sleeps through their furious chatter whenever it's around, lol!

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 03:29 PM

15. You should live in the country

 

I've regular visitors of all sorts, deer, foxes, turkey, geese, coyotes, rabbits, raccoons, on and on the list goes. It is one reason I moved to the country, I was missing my wild friends.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 08:29 PM

17. Beautiful post

Lovely backyard

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Response to malaise (Reply #17)

Mon Jun 4, 2012, 08:44 PM

18. thanks so much, Malaise

 

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