Foxes are vermin. Contentious? Well, I'm guessing a few of you will disagree. Vermin are, however, "small animals, insects or birds that are troublesome or destructive to crops, game or domestic stock". Yes, we can argue the "small", but that pretty much sums up foxes.
Foxes are rife in my area, their numbers aided, no doubt, by a neighbour who feeds them. One of these well fed foxes, running through another neighbour's garden, killed and left a chicken en route. The second neighbour was none too pleased. Neither am I, as they seem to unload all their digested food all over my veg beds.
The local population is clear now that I don't fall for that vulpine charm. Until I started chasing them off, though, they were quite happy just to stand and stare at a distance of as little as ten feet.
Neighbour with said chickens told me that one fox would actually stand its ground and growl unless he was carrying a stick. That's a wild animal with barely any fear of humans. I won't catalogue the numerous stories of fox attacks, but it seems very clear why encouraging foxes to co-habit with us at close quarters is not a good idea.
Of course, their running away when they see me does not prevent them from pretty much making themselves at home when they can't. Hence, defecation among the salad leaves.
Reluctant to take a brush with Toxocariasis, I tried a forest of sticks stuck around the edges. When this availed me naught, I put out a call on Twitter. Claire at Claire's allotment came to my rescue, and advised a liberal sprinkling pepper or curry powder around the crops. Apparently, it makes them sneeze. A touch stingy, too, I wager.
Luckily we have an ethnic grocery near us, which means I can buy a 1 kg bag of chilli powder for considerably less than the equivalent in Mr Sharwood's tiny little pots. By the time I'd finished, the green salads were marooned in a sea of orange. It was actually quite pretty, but has it worked?
Well, yesterday I noticed that a fox had left its deposit, not on the raised bed, but on the grass beside it, so I'm optimistic.
I've certainly plenty of chilli powder left, should I need to try it again.