Rabbits are rife and everyone's talking about them, especially visitors to our place who marvel at their abundance and audacity.
The short stretch of road from our driveway to the end of the road is a favourite meeting place and half a dozen or more can be seen milling around at any one time.
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They graze in the house paddock, nibble grass near the house, nick our few strawberries and hop to safety when anyone approaches. Sometimes they get snagged by one of our cats whose approach to rabbits is both vague and cruel.
They often pick up rabbits in their mouth and bring them inside where they drop them, unharmed and terrified, in order to play hide and seek. At least lions kills their prey immediately.
There can't be a much worse fate than being taunted by a cat and forced into a protracted game of hide and seek that can end only one way.
It's not unusual to find puny rabbit remains – mainly guts - in hallway. Since the cats are clearly so fond of their taste, we're now feeding them rabbit meat bought in small frozen squares.
Perhaps, the farmer pondered, it would be worth getting a suitable gun to not only solve the rabbit problem, but provide cat food.
About $700 later the farmer returned from his inaugural foray with his new 22. "There's something wrong with the sights," he said.
Two days later he'd shot four rabbits. About a thousand to go.
During the gutting process, he held up a string of flesh-covered walnut-sized beads encased in flesh like mini sausages. "Baby rabbits," he pronounced.
Then he skinned the largest of the rabbits and did more slicing and cutting. Figuring if the cats ate them, fur and all, they'd be delighted with skinned legs, he put two on their plates.
They sniffed. They nibbled. Then they exhibited a new behaviour. They lay beside their dishes as if awaiting further dissection prior to dining. They got it.
All in all, this was harder work than buying little squares. The gun is now worth $695. But I suppose those who manufacture rabbit flesh are marvelling at their bounty.
The reason for the infestation, said a reliable informant, was the dry winter. In a wet winter, multitudes of bunnies drown in burrows.
Hold that gruesome thought. Another rabbit's just arrived courtesy of the cats. This one's in the office. Minutes later: It's been caught and freed.
Meanwhile, the farmer has grabbed his gun and shot outside to take some pot shots. Yes, our behaviour is conflicting but isn't that a human speciality?
Maybe we could have rabbit for Christmas dinner. But is it a traditional meat for this illustrious day?
A quick online search revealed that rabbits are as Christmassy as tinsel and plum pudding.
The festive possibilities include Christmas ornaments, jumpers and sweaters, decorations, cards, trees, toys and, remarkably, entire outfits for your pet rabbit – complete with Santa hat. There are Beatrice Potter Peter Rabbit dinner sets as well.
And, of course, plenty of suggestions for Christmas dinner. For some Dutch people, a tangy rabbit stew is the ultimate Christmas meal. Rabbits can be served roasted and stuffed, braised, in pies and on and on.
One cook wrote that wild rabbits have such good flavour and are in such plentiful supply, it's a no-brainer that they should grace the Christmas table.
Warmest wishes for Christmas whatever delicious treats you serve to celebrate. We're having salmon and roast pork.