Far from Wall Street, our rural stock exchange thrives with unlisted commodities and functions at all hours. On Saturday, I might swap my extra laying hens for my neighbor’s spare vacuum cleaner, and then on Sunday trade a box of frozen beef for pork. But every so often, a transaction occurs that at first seems an outright loss, such as on the morning when I awoke at dawn to a strange noise outside. On the single occasion that I’d neglected to electrify the turkeys’ fence, a fox had feasted; telltale white feathers were strewn about like leaves. Still on the premises, the fox, seeing me, attempted to flee. Having already devoured a 10-pound fowl, the intruder toted another as it approached the electric mesh encircling the birds’ yard. It botched its leap, dropped its prey, and became entangled in the fence. Instead of fury, I felt awe for its audacity and, now, for its predicament. As the fox thrashed and panted, whining slightly in its panic, I stared at its lavish tail, elegant paws, and auburn coat—I’d never seen a fox this close. Was this a swindle? I wondered, as the animal twisted and, at last, leapt free. Or a barter: two of my flock for hearing the fox’s getaway huff.
About this Podcast
Welcome to the monthly Farmer’s Calendar podcast. These essays come from The Old Farmer’s Almanac annual publication. They are recorded by Julia Shipley, the author and poet. She draws from her life raising animals and vegetables on a small farm in Northern Vermont.