Today’s tea is this. It is one of my ‘special treat’ teas (which it has to be, look at the price! Yikes!), one of the two best in the collection at the moment along with a rather fancy Assam.
Public service announcement: Some slightly gruesome plain talk about feral animals follows.
There’s a deer… named Deerus? I was getting some plants I had set aside for a customer from out the back at work when I heard a strange noise, a bit like two cricket bats clacking together. I looked up, and on the hill were two bucks locking antlers. Definitely not what I had expected to see! I made a bit of noise which might have included a swear word or two, and they startled and ran away. A Google search tonight reveals them to be Dama dama or Fallow Deer, which is the most populous bastard deer in SA.
I don’t have anything against the individual critter, and I genuinely feel bad for every rabbit I see dying in utter agony from Mixy, but feral animals are a major problem and a part of me is quietly satisfied when I see a dead feral. So in that moment I wished I could take a shot at them, which for me is always an instinctual reaction which fades to a mild horror at the thought of purposely taking any sort of life when I think about it too much. Oh hey, did you know that one of the two major causes of our feral deer problem is douchebags intentionally releasing them so as to hunt them later? The other is how easily they escape from deer farms.
One of my immediate concerns is for our stock. Deer are destructive grazers, and there is nothing stopping them getting into our holding rows in the evening. In fact it is quite possible that some of the stock damage we ascribed to roos over the last few months was actually deer. I'm not sure what we are going to be able to do about it, either. Shooting in the middle of Belair National Park is... problematic.
Rabbits are our biggest nuisance, however, by a long way. For about three or four years there the population was bad enough around the nursery that they would destroy just about anything we put on the ground within reach, though one plant variety at a time. They tend to find something they like, eat all of it, then give something new a try. We managed to get the odd shooter in to knock off a few (helps that they are active when the park is empty), which helped, but in the end a combination of ripping their warrens, blocking up refuges, and generally forcing them into exposure is what brought the population down.
When they are exposed they are more vulnerable to Mixy and Calici, and the park foxes. Much as I dislike foxes for everything else they do, they certainly know how to kill bunnies efficiently. The other chief predators, we noticed, were actually the local ravens. Corvus coronoides will kill a kit by going straight for the eyeballs and just harrying the bunny to death. Not pleasant.