Another summer, another mangy fox.
If you followed my escapade with ‘Freddy’ the fox last year, you might remember that a small measured dose of ivermectin injected into a hardboiled egg, hotdog, or, surprisingly, a jam sammich (foxes really dig sweet stuff, but I figure ants do as well, so chose the egg route) and left in an area the fox frequents, is wonderfully effective for sarcoptic mange.
Sarcoptic mange is nothing short of torture for an animal. For the fox, we’re talking 30,000 burrowing mites per square inch on its body (I know, that made me start to itch, too), and the animal scratches until raw and infected. Within a few short weeks the animal loses its coat, most noticeably the bushy tail, and his weakened immune system generally results in death within four months. Sadly, many people who see a fox with mange assume they’re rabid as well.
As I’m on voice rest for another few weeks, I wasn’t able to tell Paul why I was boiling eggs in the middle of the afternoon and certainly not that I had just walked out of the barn and been surprised by the fox who had been lying on his stomach in the manure pile and leapt up, just as I was passing, scaring us both out of our wits.
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But upon seeing me peel the eggs and inject the medicine into them, Paul suddenly said, “That better not be for a mangy fox, those are organic free-range eggs!”
I shrugged my shoulders with a sort of, “What am I supposed to do?” expression.
“Can’t you go buy some cheap eggs from the Dollar Store?”
This resulted in a flurry of my handwriting: “and support the misery of caged chickens in the poultry industry because you’re being too cheap to come to the aid of an animal that is also suffering?”
Not sure why, but Paul snatched the pen away from me and scribbled furiously, “Then YOU buy the organic, free range expensive eggs next time.”
I snatched the pen back: “I WILL.”
And like a ping pong match, our silent argument continued.
“That’s what you always say, but you don’t.”
“Yes I do! And I bought orange juice and almond milk yesterday.”
“So what? I do all the cooking!”
“Because you won’t eat my cooking!”
“Who wants Spaghettios for dinner??”
“That was the APPETIZER!!!”
This continued until the back of the envelope was filled and we were both thoroughly annoyed with one another. I grabbed both the eggs and stomped back to the barn to see if I could locate the fox.
Just beneath one of the oaks, I saw him scratching incessantly and then drag himself thought the grass in a vain attempt at relief. He looked at me warily as I remained upwind and in his line of vision about a hundred feet away. I held each egg aloft so that he could see them, then placed them on top of a tree stump just on the other side of the pasture fence, which skirts the woods. I wasn’t sure if he would take one and from the wildlife rehab website, I was informed he wouldn’t overdose if he happened to take both.
I purposely climbed over the fence to give the appearance of leaving, then made a quick loop to the top of the field so I could get a view of him from above. To my disappointment, he had already taken off. I walked towards the barn thinking how angry Paul would be if he learned that his organic, free range eggs were simply wasted and left to rot. Dejectedly, my eyes swept over the tree stump. Both eggs were gone. In a flash, he had clearly grabbed them both and with leaving neither a thank you or a tip, had fled back into the woods. My heart leapt with triumph.
The following morning while Paul was still in bed (because, frankly, I’m going to get carpel tunnel writing out another missive), I pilfered more eggs and turned on the television so that the sound of the roiling boil would be diminished. I headed out the back door, palming an egg in each hand for the mangy animal. Crouching in the woods, keeping my eye on the tree stump and slapping away deer flies, I postponed my own breakfast for a solid hour and willed him to come. He didn’t. Not yet, anyway.
Some foxes are like that.
Reach PAM STONE at email@example.com.