Finally two weeks ago I got one of all five foxes. The parents are the clearest and you can tell the babies by shorter snout. Coloring is now like their parents. What appears to be a bubble is because in shooting through our fence, the sun reflected in dots of light and hence that almost painterly effect.
We've seen the adults watch a rodent hole for hours. We've seen the rodents around the barns act more jumpy-- with good reason. We worried that the farm didn't have enough rodents to support five adult foxes -- who will also be breeding eventually. We knew we were supplementing their food by our birdseed which we now keep out of the fenced yards and by the blueberries; so sheep don't eat it but the foxes could. We began to do less of that as the babies grew closer to being self-sufficient.
If they had to head south from here into neighboring fields, that's where the young coyotes are growing up, where we hear them yelping at night. They have to eat too, and sometimes they kill foxes who are so much smaller. I've written about it before-- a predator's life is not an easy one.
Their temporary home was under what used to be my mother's mobile home. It's across the garden and a small field from our house. We kept it there for years because her feral cats needed it for protection as a place to live out their lives. When the last one of those died, I wanted to find a way to get it off the property; but now, weather-beaten though it is after years with no one living there, under it provided a temporary haven for our foxy neighbors. It couldn't be permanent.
We are also considering keeping it and repairing the floor, making it more secure and Farm Boss would eventually use it for his lab when he no longer wants to work from town. We had permission to keep it as a studio which is what that would equivalently be. If the foxes have moved, they will be happier than if they hung around and had to listen to construction overhead-- though they did not mind living under our porch for those weeks of small babies.
I guess the lesson here is enjoy the moment, and our time sharing a piece of land with the foxes was beautiful. The future is uncertain for us all and most of all for small predators. For awhile I worried about their future but once the babies became near adults, it seemed to free me from concerns. It's time for them to move on, and I was then ready for them to do it. We don't want foxes on welfare here-- that could turn very unpleasant when the next generation bred...