Young fox has a field day (and lunch)


Decisions! Decisions! Which of more than a dozen jottings gets the lead paragraph for this column?
And suddenly, Mother Nature makes the decision with a dazzling offering on the sunny last day of summer as a friend and I admired the just-mowed pasture.
“Janie, look! Isn’t that a fox?” Jose Johnson excitedly asked, pointing north toward the back of the fenceline.
Jose, an employee of the Boardman Township Park District for 17 years, twice annually mows the pasture as a benefit of my gift of the historic property to the district in 1993. (The district also snowplows the driveway and removes the manure pile two or three times a year. Everything else is my responsibility, including the four-figure taxes!)
And yes, there indeed was a fox, a young one not yet in full coat, but his brush had the distinctive white tip, so there was no mistake.
He was literally having a field day as the mowing had probably evicted great numbers of frightened mice and heaven knows what all else from the dense grass and weeds.
It has been several autumns since another Reynard dazzled me as he strolled beside the pond amid the goldenrod and pink and purple New England asters.
Once, on a winter day, while Taggie was still here, a bedraggled, cold and wet fox came as close to the barn as I’ve ever seen one, and Taggie took offense at the intruder.
He lowered his big head, kicked up his heels and snorted – and the terrified fox fled.
This fellow kept his nose close to the ground, looking up at us occasionally, and every whipstitch jumped into the air and pounced, no doubt coming up with a fat lunch.
Of course, curious Toby had to investigate and actually jogged a couple steps toward the fox, which in turn jogged closer to the fence but resumed his hunting when Toby lost interest.
Later in the afternoon when Winnie and I were in the barn, I watched as the fox traveled leisurely toward the pond and the slanting sunlight highlighted his red coat.
Unfortunately, Winnie saw him too and began to bark, which, of course, sent Reynard scampering out of sight. I may never see him again, but this was the treat of the month.
Incidentally, as of Sept. 17, Winnie has been here four months and her every waking minute is a pleasure for me, except the minute she stole my supper hamburger from the counter while I was checking on Toby!
Daily, I am thankful for being able to provide food and shelter for so many species that have been herded to this small preserve of woods and fields.
Car dealerships, restaurants, medical facilities, huge paved areas, glaring lights that eclipse the stars, nonstop traffic and all manner of businesses have herded them to whatever little natural space remains.
Here there are no buildings, no crowds. Nothing but quiet – except for maybe Winnie!
* * *
In the July/September issue of Timeline, the publication of the Ohio Historical Society, a letter to the editor from Nancy Burgess, historic preservation specialist from Prescott, Ariz., mentions the John Segesman elk statues marketed by the W.H. Mullins Co. of Salem, Ohio.
She writes, “Prescott’s beloved copper elk, popularly known as Bill, was originally installed on the opera house roof in 1905. When the Elks Lodge moved to Prescott Valley in 1971, they took Bill with them. Over the years it was shot numerous times, was painted silver, nearly lost its antlers and had numerous leaks.
“Lengthy negotiations with the Elks led to its restoration, and in December 2006, Bill was returned to his original position atop the Elks Opera House, now owned by the City of Prescott.
“Bill has resumed his role as a visible downtown landmark and community symbol and was illuminated at an annual music celebration.”
Which goes to show that this area’s diversified accomplishments in the arts and every other endeavor have made their mark across the nation.
* * *
I am eating a juicy pear, which is not an unusual thing to do. But this pear is unusual. For the first time since I planted the Bartlett tree in at least 1975 – I forget, it’s been so long ago – it has actually produced edible fruit!
Of course, the Kieffer tree planted at the same time beside it has been bearing and bearing and bearing, and I’m sure the deer can hardly wait. I’ve tried giving the fruit away, but no one wants to wait for months for it to ripen, so the deer are quite welcome.


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A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.