The Fox Among the Hens

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is a short story taken from a childhood memory in 1963.

Fox Among the Hens

Snowy the white rabbit was our only pet apart from Jasper the cat who thought he was in charge of us. Snowy was well fed on rabbit food supplemented by scraps and dandelion leaves and as a consequence was extremely fat. When his hutch was cleaned out he would be allowed to roam free in the garden because he could never go far or run away from us very fast.

1963 was one of the worst winters on record. The snow came down in December and remained through freezing conditions until the end of March. The day it started we had gone to the Bristol hippodrome to see a pantomime and we had to walk the last bit home because the coach could not get up the hill. A week later there were six foot snow drifts. Uncle had fitted snow chains to his car but the roads were impassable. The TV news programmes were full of stories about trapped animals, sheep had to be dug out of snow drifts and it was impossible to get food distributed in the usual way by truck and delivery van. Luckily there was a baker and a grocer in the village and although there were food shortages we managed to get enough food on foot.

Snowy was temporary moved into the coal house which was a wooden structure next to the laundry room for extra warmth. The door was locked and bolted every night as part of the locking up procedures. One night late we were all awoken by a blood curdling scream. It was a scream that has stayed with me well into my middle age. Auntie went into the girls and Uncle came into the boys bedrooms to check we were all alright. The next morning poor Snowy had disappeared. A fox had gnawed its way in under the door then bitten its way through the wire on the front of the hutch. To do all of that it must have been very hungry. Poor Snowy had lost its life for its namesake.

The fox though remained active and a week later we spotted it from the living room window walking up our garden in the moonlight on the way to our neighbour’s chicken coup. Uncle sent one of the elder boys to warn the neighbour about it. The next day we could see the foxes footprints in the snow, it had come that way on several occasions. We made an arrangement with the neighbour who kept chickens. We kept a vigil as soon as it got dark we took it in turns to man the binoculars in pairs stationed at our window as if it was the bridge of a ship. At last our patience was rewarded and Richard was the first to spot the fox. Uncle rang the neighbour as arranged.

The next day we found it had not gone to plan. The neighbour waited for the fox with his shot gun but it never turned up. We kept watch for a further two weeks but the fox did not return. Three days after we stopped watching, the hen coup was raided by the fox, not a single hen survived. It may have been a coincidence but we found a dead hen on our doorstep the next morning. I think it was a present for the man cubs from the fox that outfoxed us how about you?


Submitted: April 15, 2014

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