Today saw the first of the harvest on one of the farms we provide rabbit control at so it was all hands to the pump to take advantage of the sunshine and get started.
Today was the turn of the Oilseed Rape to be harvested. Rape is one of those crops which seem to attract all maner of agricultural pests, needless to say the rabbits and pigeon have spent the last six months eating as much as possible of this crop, and we have tried to prevent them with equal vigor!
This particular field used to be notorious for the number of rabbit shot at harvest time, so I was very keen to see if all the hard work over the autumn and winter earlier on in the year had paid off. We extensively shot, ferreted and gassed all the hedgerows, banks and ditches around this massive field and killed a great number, but as the crop grows, we cannot gain access to the spots we need to.
For me it was going to be a very happy farm manager or a good telling off….so I just had to wait and see.
As the crop is cut, the rabbits usually run out at each end, allowing one of the guys to shoot them. This is a very effective method of getting rid of a lot of rabbits in a very short space of time, however it is not my favourite method by any stretch – too much damage to the carcasses rendering them almost useless – I hate waste.
The other great thing about today was the brand new combine. This behemoth of a machine has a cut of 10meters and is just crammed with the latest technology. Today was its first outing, so engineers poured all over it like a space mission, adjusting this, testing that etc. The driver looked totally terrified of it, even though he had done all the courses etc and should have been delighted to use this in anger.
After a few hours, the 100 acre field was stripped down to a few small blocks and still only one rabbit had been seen, so everybody gathered round the remaining block for what they hoped would be a frantic 20 minutes of activity…but alas for them it was not!
I stood right over one side of the block at a place I had seen some fresh activity, so when the combine came up my way, 3 rabbits ran out, straight towards me, swiftly followed by 2 more – all cleanly shot and all about the same size as well – all one litter I would suggest!
Needless to say, my fellow shooters we not over pleased as they had wasted a whole day for a few shots at pigeons, and worst of all the rabbits in the crop came directly to me! The Farm Manager did not help matters, coming over an patting me on the back for getting rid of the rabbits from this field….guys, I am only doing my job, so sorry! But it was nice to get some real praise for all the hard work done – it makes such a difference to know it’s all appreciated.
At least I have seen some sun today – I am sure this was the hottest day so far – showing 29 in the Landie. Glad for the factor 30 today and my trusty hat – more of the same tomorrow for me! The tan is certainly getting topped up.
If you have a rabbit problem on your farm and need our help with agricultural pest problems call one of our offices in Newbury, Basingstoke, Reading, Oxford and Swindon for a fast response to rabbit and rat problems on your farm.
Here are a few pics of the new combine – its massive!