Missed Opportunities


The shepherd drives around the farm every day on the quad bike. She is a familiar and harmless sight to all of the wildlife on the farm, and they take the sound of the bike as part of life on the hill. By contrast, I do all my work on the hill on foot, and even the dullest witted predator has learned to keep its head down when a lone figure appears on foot.

For the first time in a few months, I drove the quad bike this afternoon, taking a hundred and fifty hawthorn saplings around to the back of the farm to be planted in my new enclosure. The difference in what I saw compared to my usual ventures on foot were surprising. Crows let me pass within two hundred yards, and a large dog fox bounded out of a patch of rushes to stand less than eighty yards away without a care in the world.

Because I was all geared up for tree planting, I had left the rifle at home in the cabinet. If I had been armed as usual, the smug joker would have been knocked flat against the blow grass. In vulgar schoolboy cricketing slang, I would have “tonked him out of the park”. As it was, I was armed only with a camera, and took this photograph (above).

If I can ever get over my frustration, it would certainly be worth taking the bike and rifle around the hill one evening to cash in on the general apathy felt towards the sound of the shepherd.

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