I suppose I’ll start with the small things.
The rabbits are out of control. When we drive in the gates, they’re grazing on the lawn like sheep. Meanwhile the sheep are on the lane, grazing on the ditches. Someone said, Ireland is a small island being slowly consumed by sheep. Driving down the lane, you keep having to stop as the little baby ones who are stupid – if ridiculously cute – panic and stop in front of the car instead of getting out of the way. You have to try really hard not to hit one. And who can kill a ridiculously cute baby rabbit? M did once and isn’t over it yet.
We witness casual rabbit sex, or rape, it’s hard to tell the difference, frequently. My mother says humans and rabbits are the only mammals to have intercourse when the female isn’t fertile. We could eat them, people say, but I’m squeamish. So I considered it a fairly benign and colourful part of our existence until one of the men I have to send for to do things told me the plentiful rabbit situation is the cause of the fox problem. The foxes are out of control too. They take our hens in daylight. When we’re actually standing there looking at them. It’s very upsetting. Traumatic for the children and M who aren’t used to the inevitability of disaster on a farm. It got me down too. And now we’re afraid to get more hens. Even though they are lovely company.
Apparently when there are plenty of rabbits, the foxes have plenty to feed on so they thrive. So why on earth don’t they stick to the rabbits? Why do they have to take the bloody hens?
Clearly, the solution is to exterminate the rabbits in order to protect the hens.
And that’s what they don’t tell you about rural life. It’s not the life, but the death that define us.