Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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norman.karen.farnleyI’ve been grousing about four long rows of round hay bales left in my field. The guys that make the hay usually take the bales right off. But it’s been two weeks, and they’re still sitting there. Now, I’m going to have four long stretches of dead grass. Fuss, fuss.

This morning I took my dog Mara out for a walk as usual, and, glancing over to where the round bales were still sitting, it seemed there was something lying on top of one. Too big for one of the cats and not the right color. I recalled that foxes love to perch on top of round bales. Every warrior seeks the high ground. I stopped, hoping it was what I thought, and sure enough an alert head and two enormous ears fixed me in their sights.

The pair of us stayed put and watched each other. Neither of us moved. Mara didn’t even see the fox. She just continued her own morning ritual—nose down, quartering the area, reading her newspaper.

I was tempted to go in the house to tell Joan to come out, but was afraid the fox would be gone if I did. Soon it was apparent that the fox was in no hurry to move. I went back in, called to Joan to come out, and picked up the field glasses.

Good ol’ fox was still there when we returned, but the additional person made him restless. Soon he stood, hopped off the bale, and padded his way to the automatic horse waterer to drink. He was a gray fox.

“That’s Jimmy,” breathed Joan.

Now for the rest of the story.

The morning of Jimmy Young’s Memorial Service three weeks ago, the news of his passing still raw in our minds, Joan saw a young gray fox in this same field. Generally, Joan is a pragmatic sort, but she took it as a sign.

We hadn’t seen a gray fox here for twenty-five years, so I was skeptical. But a few days later we both saw two young grays in the field across the road. Recently, we’ve seen just the one.

It’s a thrill to see a fox anytime, it’s special to see a gray fox here after so long, and it’s a reminder of good times and good hunting with a departed sporting friend. Isn’t it just great having round hay bales sitting in the field?

Posted June 26, 2012


+2 # Liz Callar 2012-06-26 19:26
Very touching!
+1 # Art Fine 2012-07-04 13:19
While jogging in the woods late Monday afternoon, I flushed a full-grown doe out from the brush on the other side of some long-unused railroad tracks. In startling un-deer like behavior, it crossed the tracks - not away from me, but onto the path on which I was running and loped up the trail until we were separated by about 50 yards.

It then stopped and waited until I caught up - letting me approach within about thirty feet and then loped on up the trail again. It repeated this behavior four times before getting bored and disappearing into the brush.

Was the doe just playing with me? Why would it take such a chance? Why would it move at first toward me instead of away from me? Why would it let me get so close? Is there some cosmic connection?
# Paddington 2012-07-05 13:21
I think I liked Mara "reading her newspaper" the best! :-)

The fox knew Mara was busy, so hung around till everyone got too curious. Clever animals.

Speaking of deer, a doe and her fawn came along our drive, their usual crossing pattern, the doe jumped the wire fence, and her baby looked over at her (forlornly, no doubt). She didn't move, at all. The fawn walked up and down the fence, until it found a place, easily 50 yards up, where it could get through, caught up with Mummy, and off they went. And we're the smart ones???
# patricia carter 2012-07-05 16:06
Round bales attract mice = attract foxes (see a. mckay-smith"s section on making "mouse houses" to attract foxes...

My dogs (Scottish terrier and min. poodle) think they're guarding the homestead whenever they see wildlife but the wildlife has learned that they're kept in by the electric fence; the deer prance away but come back to taste the horses' salt block but the fox just sits on the hill and watches them bark at him
# Laura 2012-11-21 14:28
Great story! Thank you so much NF for that story.

~LMH Hampton,VA
# Noele Stuart 2013-02-08 22:05
Thank you, Norm, for this sweet story -- and I am sorry for the loss of your friend.

- Noele Stuart, Aiken, SC

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