No need to spell out the rest of this sombre quotation. We have suffered one tragedy in the fields of La Chaise, another nearer the main house.
The lambs and their mothers have been in the fields for many days now, coming in only at night. Then, a couple of days ago Alexandre mooted the notion of leaving the flock out overnight. I thought it was a good idea. The weather was clement and it took a lot of time, much rattling of the maize pan, plus encouragement from (H)aska the not-quite sheep dog, to get the newly liberated sheep back inside. This way time could be spent mucking out and mending their winter quarters.
|Tonight we stay out...
To shorten the suspense, yes some beast had killed a grown lamb overnight in the field, torn off a back leg to be exact. This is not the first time we have experienced such a death. The last occurrence was when Bianca (Beauceron mostly) and Elvis-Non! were still in residence. Then a fawn had been killed in the same manner. In both cases the suspicion falls on a dog, a lost hunting dog or an abandoned pet.
We had some warning that a killer animal was around for a wounded badger was discovered by (H)aska, the day before the lamb's death, under the main house terrace. The crawl space there is not very salubrious but Audrey, with torch, did her best to see what was the matter. Apparently there was a large wound on the badger's back. It was obviously dying, Audrey thought. She was more than saddened for she thought the badger might be a pregnant female – a badger has been seen very recently prospecting for a home around the main house.
When there is a wounded or trapped wild animal, we call on the local chasse to despatch it – coypu or pine martens and similar. The chasse members are trained shots. We are not. It is a service offered to us by the chasse as its members have much appreciated our well kept pine plantation, wild boar heaven, apparently.
For those who, understandably, instinctively refuse to believe a trained pet could kill, here follows the story of the empress Czeta and her son, Edward the Black Prince of La Chaise. Czeta was an intelligent labrador. She could open – and close – doors! She held policemen at bay but not the postie. She knew our friends. Also she had been forcibly trained not to kill chickens, a diesel soaked carcass attached to her neck, both shut in a dark place overnight. Nasty. But she taught her son ..to kill chickens. Then he had to be discouraged in the same manner.