Living in the countryside has many sides to it, both good and bad.

Personally, I find the clean air and lack of town noise outweighs most of the bad.

Since living in France, we have been growing and sourcing a great deal of our own food, both fruit, vegetable, and meat. We are lucky to have a large garden which lends itself perfectly to growing food as the soil is very fertile.

Hunting in France is practically a national sport and Max regularly hunts with the local chasseurs. This means our freezer is supplemented with a few pheasants, rabbits, haunches of sangliers (wild boar), chevreuils (deer), and if we are lucky, a hare. However, there are some restrictions and only a certain number of pheasants, deer, and hare are allowed to be shot each year. Whenever a hunt is organised, the hunting party is issued with a “bracelet” for each animal in their quota.

If you shoot an extra one, even by mistake (ie if you have one bracelet and two people each shoot a hare at the same time), there is a fine. (yes, hunting in France is controlled.)

In return for his hunting invitations, Max joins the local chasseurs for the occasional “battue”. These are held throughout the year to keep down the numbers of foxes. Make no mistake about it, there are a lot of foxes, they are a nuisance and they can do a great deal of harm. The battues are usually, but not always, requested by the farmers and the dates and areas concerned are posted at the local Mairie.

Massacre in the hen coop

Massacre in the hen coop

This is the sight that greeted us when we went out to feed the chickens this morning. I make no apology for the photos although I have tried to keep them “long” shots. Believe me, close up they are not nice.

Our chickens are shut in at night. The fox dug his way into the pen and forced the door of the hut open.

Several were left in the pen but we found two on the lawn outside; in addition, as we can’t find them, we think he must have taken one adult and one baby back with him (or eaten them here I suppose).

Dead hen

Obviously, I can’t be sure, but we were told that this was probably done by a young fox. An older fox takes a bird back to the den.

A young fox is learning the joy of killing and “plays” with his new skill until all the fun is lying on the ground around him.

Fox breakfast Even the three chicks were taken.

In all, we lost five chickens and three chicks. We have informed the head of the local chasseurs who will come and see us later today. The next battue is not scheduled for a few weeks but I for one will welcome them. Fox breakfast

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