There is a bit of a movement here in the UK which suggests that it is 'ethical' to eat road kill. Now I can see that in The States and Canada, where road kill might be something like an elk then maybe this is possible (does anyone eat elk?) and it would be with a deer here in the UK. But on our lane roadkill means hedgehogs (sadly), rabbits and pheasants and all three are usually flattened, not just killed.
This week there was even a grey squirrel - which most people here look upon as vermin. But on Friday our local weekly paper published a recipe for squirrel. Apparently good butchers are now able to get them quite easily and the recipe called for a whole, skinned one. I really do draw the line at eating squirrel (has anyone out there eaten it?) but the recipe suggested that rabbit (or bunny as the recipe said - and that is going too near the sentimental for me ever to eat it) would make a suitable alternative.
This brings me fairly neatly to the subject of my blog today - rabbits. Yes, they are pretty - and seemingly harmless - creatures, but frankly they breed like - well - rabbits. And at present our fields are full of rabbits, which keep breeding throughout the winter in all but totally icy conditions, so no let up there then. And so far there is absolutely no sign of the cruel disease myxymatosis, which does wipe out some colonies when it strikes but to which many rabbits are now immune.
The plain fact is that ten rabbits are said to eat as much grass as one cow. In addition to this they also dig their burrows out into the field, leaving huge piles of earth which smothers the grass. So every now and again the farmer has to take steps to eradicate some of them. I don't think he likes it any more than I do, but it is necessary.
So to this end a couple of young men came 'lamping' on Friday evening. This means they come after dark with strong lamps to dazzle and mesmerise the rabbits and then they shoot them - cleanly and quickly. I have to report that in an hour they shot forty
and since then there has been no sign of a dead or injured one in the fields so we can assume that all died quickly and humanely. Interestingly a local butcher takes them and they sell well.
We ate rabbit - stew, pie, when I was a child and we loved it. Sadly, I just couldn't eat it now. They intend to come back in about a week, when the weather has settled down after the storm we are getting at the moment, and try to shoot another forty.
I'm sorry if you find this distasteful - but it is a necessary evil.