I mentioned the brutal murder of two of our chickens on the Twitters this morning, okay, let's re-phrase that. Yesterday a fox, we've seen him, big fella, took the second one so we are currently in a lock down state.
I've been getting a lot of advice as to how to avoid further losses and I'm grateful for all of it, however I just want to explain our situation so I don't try and respond directly on the Twitters.
Our chickens sleep in a secure, moveable hen house. In 12 years no fox has ever managed to get in, they have a nexting box and access to grass within the bounds of this Gitmo Bay of the chicken world. However as a general rule we let the chickens out during the day, they could wander off to Cheltenham if they wanted, but they stay within our garden, indeed, they will come into my office during the summer if the doors are open.
On one particular day, I was on the phone to a highly urban television executive when Kebab wandered in, took one look at me, gave a little shudder, dropped a massive chicken poo on the floor and wandered out without a second thought. Charming.
So our free range chickens really are free range. The risk is low, foxes generally hunt at night, we've had more chickens run over by cars than taken by foxes. But in the last two days both Beyonce and Kebab have gone. We now only have Madge, Taylor and Joni left.
Kebab was old, she'd been delivered to us almost entirely without feathers, a battery hen saved at the last moment from some remote slaughter factory. Within 4 weeks she turned from a totally bizarre looking walking plucked chicken to a rather aggressive and very large feathery chook who laid an egg every day for about 4 years. Never went broody.
She'll be sadly missed, but in a couple of weeks a local farmer will drop off another sack load of chickens and we'll re stock. My daughter and I will have to re-name them too.