By LARRY M. JONES
Almost without exception, most farms are protected to some degree by guard animals. Dogs and cats are most commonly used to defend against intruders and nuisance pests around the farmstead. In recent years with the proliferation of coyotes, many folks are using guard donkeys or llamas to protect their livestock.
Down on the “pore farm” we also use highly trained security animals to protect the premises. This potentially lethal force consists of a fat red dog, ironically named Red Dog, and a no-tail yellow Manx tomcat named Max. For the most part, they do a pretty good job patrolling the perimeter for interlopers each night. A couple of times each week Max will deliver a dead rat, mouse, or gopher to the doorstep for inspection. For larger critters such as skunks, possums, coons, and cottontails, Red Dog is a holy terror.
With such an ironclad security force on constant duty, I have been a bit perplexed for the past few months about their food bowls being cleaned out a bit too quickly in my opinion. I feed both of them early in the morning when I go out to retrieve my morning newspaper, and regardless of how much I put out, their bowls are always clean.
One of my game cameras I have on a deer feeder conked out recently, and I purchased a new one. Before taking it to the pasture, I decided to position it where I could monitor activity around their food bowls. Photos from the first night solved the mystery. While we have a neighborhood dog visit occasionally, every night a sleek and very well fed fox visits Red Dog’s dish. I can’t tell if it is a red fox or a gray one, because it is always after dark, and the photos are infrared black and white images. I suspect it is a gray fox, because I saw one in my pasture a few months ago. I have read that red foxes were not originally native to this part of Texas, and their range has been spreading for several years. I saw my first red one in the late 1950s, and today we see both here in Parker County.