A few days after Christmas and the organic turkey carcass has been well picked by family and visitors. It seemed like a good idea to dig a deep enough hole and bury the turkey’s meat-less mortal remains. However, a fox had other ideas. The next morning, a tidy mound of earth was to be seen and a hole where the turkey bones had been lain. Paw prints on the wet soil suggested a fox had paid a nocturnal visit and enjoyed a belated, Christmas dinner. The odd bit of turkey bone was all that remained of our Christmas dinner.

This was a lesson well learned. We should have known. The Red Fox  (Vulpes vulpes) uses its nose like humans use a GPS system. Overground or underground the fox can map an area better than most dogs. Not surprising then that the fox’s nose occupies most of its muzzle and contains over 200,000,000 scent receptors, which is about 40 times better than a human nose. I checked with some fox experts how deep I should have buried the turkey carcass. I’m told that no matter how deep chicken bones are buried, a fox will sniff them out.

Plan B for next year then is either to go vegetarian, or if the menu includes organic turkey, then the remaining boney carcass is better dried (an Aga would be handy for this) and the dried bones burned when a stove or fire is lighting. However, in a way, I don’t mind the fox getting the turkey bones. He or she has to eat. However,

A south Wexford fox, has no time for food waste! His handiwork shows a neatly dug hole where a turkey carcass had been buried.

A south Wexford fox, has no time for food waste! His handiwork shows a neatly dug hole where a turkey carcass had been buried.

I might not feel the same if the fox had taken a live chicken!


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kathryn on January 20, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    Its a problem isn’t it – one doesn’t grudge the fox a few well picked turkey bones but when he rips the side off the hen house one begins to wonder whether there isn’t something to be said for owning a shot gun. I must admit that once I’ve extracted the last of the flavour for stock from bones I often place them on the fox track at the far corner of our field. Not that he stays down there – last year we had a hen killed on the back lawn in the middle of the day with family actually out in the garden. So maybe I should be brown binning those bones.


    • Posted by Trevor Sargent on January 20, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      Hi Kathy,

      Nothing like a bit of empathy! Thanks for the words of warning whenever we do graduate to keeping a few hens. Have not seen rabbits about, but hares, foxes and the odd mink have all made appearances so far.

      Good to hear from you.



      • Posted by Kathryn on January 22, 2014 at 11:35 am

        The mink is a far more dangerous predator on hens than the fox because it can get through smaller spaces and once in gets into a killing frenzy. When they were around here we had to put a half inch weldmesh floor onto the moveable run – that was literally the only thing that kept them out. After the night they killed 23 ducks after breaking through chicken wire we didn’t keep poultry again for two years. These days we don’t see mink – the otters are back on the Delvin and so far don’t seem to have decided hens are otter food

  2. Hi Trevor & Aine,
    I have been meaning to contact you both to wish you all the best with your new venture at Tacumshin.
    Regarding bones, I always make stock too, so most of the flavour and scent is gone after that. Now that you have lots of space just put them far away from the house, garden, compost heap and any future hens. Nature will do it’s work as it has always done!
    Best wishes, Denise


    • Posted by Trevor Sargent on January 21, 2014 at 12:27 am

      Hi Denise,
      Thanks for the advise on the turkey bones. This is all a learning curve, but an enjoyable one – so far! Hope all well there. I’m sure we’ll be buying organic seed from you along the way.

      Kind regards,

      Trevor & ÁINE


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