Kete the Huntress

As I’ve written before, living in the country is wonderful but sometimes it can also be harsh and cruel.

One minute you look up from your garden and see one of your pets, like Kete, and think she is possibly the sweetest natured animal in the universe. She poses for a photo, and you go back to planting verbena, verbascum, solidago, pink comfrey and a host of other perennials.

Then a flash of orange ripples past and Kete looks like she has a rat in her mouth. It turns out to be a terrified baby bunny. I wanted to interfere but two things held me back. This is nature – it’s not for us to upset a process which we should encourage – that of animals not being bred into stupid, brainless, dependent ninnies with no connection to the instinctive behaviour which has helped them survive for centuries.

Two – the bunny would die of fright anyway.

And there was a third, selfish reason. Just minutes earlier I had noticed something had eaten the new lettuces I planted before I went to Auckland. Something much bigger than a slug or snail. Peter Rabbit had been in Mr McGregor’s garden, and Kete was helping us with our self-sufficiency.

So she got to keep her rabbit, with which she played for about 30 minutes, allowing it to escape then chasing it around the back yard, just two inches behind it even though she could easily outrun it, letting the rabbit think it might get away. Then she’d pounce on it and sit still, enjoying its trembling. “Kill it!” I kept urging her. In the end she did, and ate the middle part, leaving the head and back quarters for Taja. An hour later, there was simply no trace of the poor bunny.

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