I don’t have as many chickens as I did last week. The chickens are free range. And yup, you guessed it, so is the fox.
After the most recent visit by the fox, I thought it was time to go and get an electric fence. Or build a big chicken coop with high-sided fences.
But then I remembered visiting someone who just used radio 4 to protect his hens. The voices were enough to spook the fox. I thought it was clever. But a part of me thought that was far too simple to work. So I never tried it.
I had the data to back up his idea, and yet chose to ignore it. He had never lost a chicken. I had lost loads. But something was stopping me from adopting it. What was it? I had stopped thinking like a child.
"Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them."
Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
I thought the solution had to be cleverer than that. It had to be more than just a radio playing. Surely, it can’t be that simple, could it?
But if you are a fox, and you hear someone talking, you don’t think it’s a radio, you think it’s someone talking. Foxes hunt with their ears, as well their nose. They sit still and they listen. They listen for any sound. Especially humans. If they hear humans, they stay clear. Simple, when you think about it.
As Duke Stump, who curates Do USA, keeps saying, ‘We have to learn to quiet our cleverness’. We dismiss simple answers at our peril. Or, at the chickens.