A day of life experiences from the cruel to the sublime
Our daughter Sarah recently made her confirmation and the day got off to a bad start.
As Robin was heading out early as usual he swept by the hen-run with the scraps from the previous night's supper. To his dismay, all four hens lay dead.
When hit by a crisis, it's natural to ask why? We have been visited by wily Reynard the fox before, but he would just take one for food. Then we spotted a pair of neat skin punctures on their necks. This is a sure sign of a mink kill.
The American Mink is an alien species to Ireland, brought in to be bred for their pelts. Ireland's first mink farm was established in 1951 and there were 40 breeders when mink farming was its peak.
The demise of the fur trade coupled with escapes, deliberate releases and the lack of any natural predators has resulted in the mink spreading throughout the island.
It is easy to say nature is cruel but is that just a simplified explanation for a more complex behaviour?
The mink is one of a number of predator animals that exhibit what is called, obviously enough, henhouse syndrome, whereby they kill more than they can immediately eat. A few months ago, a pack of nine wolves in the US state of Wyoming were found to have slaughtered 19 elk. However, they will often return to eat more of the carcasses or bury them to eat later.
When the girls got up, Robin sat them down and gave them the news. We believe in being open in such matters.