In my garden, I have a visitor that comes every year. She is a fox that I have named "White Sock". White Sock get her name from the fact that her one back foot is white. I always know that it is her from year to year. She lives in a den in the woods next to our property. In the spring, the woods flood from the local river and she and her pups leave the den to live in a den she has made under my back deck. In 2007 she had three pups and when she returned in 2008 she was the proud mother of two. You will see in the video that fox pups are black and not red like mom. She and her pups show up in the spring and stay for several months. When she first arrives she keeps the pups in the den. During that time she is feeding them on her milk. She leaves the den during the night and day searching for food for herself. She is a mooch! She like to visit the neighbors and get a hand out. She is not afraid of people at this time because she needs to eat for herself and the pups. As the weeks go by, we wait to see her family. When the pups emerge on warm days, mom keeps them close to the den and she watches over them. The pups love to play and chew on everything. They are very curious about the thing in the garden. At night you can hear her barking at them because they have waundered off to far from the den.
Last year I was walking in the garden and found my flower pots had all been dumped and the plants and soil was everywhere. I thought it was kids till I discovered teeth marks all over my flower pots. The pups had a great night of fun. After replanting everything, the next morning my four legged friends had dumped the pots again. My lemon tree finally died after being torn out of the pot and chewed on several times. I finally figured out that the reason the pups and mom were dumping my pot was because I had watered using fish emulsion. The lesson to be learned is that fish emulsion may be good for the plants but it smells like dinner to a fox!
As the pups continue to grow, mom introduces them to real food like moles, birds and road kill. White Sock is very good at catching birds. She leaps into the air and grabs them in flight. I don't have problems with rabbits or moles because she keeps them under control. Road kill on the other hand can be very smelly in hot weather under my deck. When mom is teaching the babies to catch their own food, she kill a mole or bird and leaves it on the ground for the pups to find. For those of you who love your birds, understand that this is the way of nature and survival.
When the middle of summer has arrived, the pups are as big as mom. They resemble her and sometimes it hard to tell the difference. One day they all just disappear back to the woods and we never see them again.
It's February now and sometimes when I pass the window at night, I stop and look to see if I see her or her mate running in the shadows of the garden. I also look for tracks in the snow to see if she has been around. Now we wait for her return to the garden this year.
The Creative Gardener