I see in Saturday's Times that this new government is quite likely to repeal the hunting ban - for readers overseas who don't know about this - Fox hunting has gone on in this country for hundreds of years. Groups meet under their Master and hunt foxes with a pack of fox hounds. When a fox is sighted, a horn is blown, everyone joins in the chase, the dogs get there first and most likely the fox is torn to pieces by a pack of dogs. A hunting ban was brought in where hunts could still meet and hunt the fox but it became illegal for the hunt to allow the fox to be torn to shreds by dogs - it was up to the Chief Huntsman to kill it cleanly with a shotgun. Yes - in lots of parts of the country the fox is a menace to hens - but he also cleans up a lot of the rabbit population. Opinions are strong and they are divided. The farmer is on one side and I am on the other, so we agree to differ.
The above is a simplification of the issues but basically that is what it comes down to. Here is my contribution to the debate - for debate there will surely be all over again.
A fox came round the farm one day,
although what time I could not say.
He picked his way across the yard
and there he left his calling card.
He sniffed around the chicken coop,
no doubt imagined chicken soup.
He stood upright and looked between
the window bars - took in the scene.
I wonder if the hens took fright
or, if asleep, they missed the sight.
He sniffed around the barn of hay
(I guess the farm cats were away).
He came right up to the farm back door
and left his footprints on the floor.
I hope he calls again some day
(when the hens are safely shut away).
Maybe he often comes and goes -
we can only track him when it snows.
He's a handsome chap, still fears the chase
but now at last he's found his place.
His only enemy is man.
Please don't repeal the hunting ban.
For I would miss the splendid sight,
the glimpse of a fox at the end of night
when he slinks along the hedgerow back
to his earth at the end of the farmyard track.
Have a nice Sunday.