Every fisherman has a tale of the fish no one can catch. It’s usually old, mythically huge in proportions, respected and longed for by all. Its legend lives on, even after it is gone, for being unattainable. Every fisherman has a tale of the time they almost caught it. Here at Mountford the fish no one can catch is a hare. He is massive, cheeky, wily and Scottish. Yes, Scottish, he has bagpipes, Braveheart, and defiance written all over him.
His Scottish rebellion against us begins with leading his ragtag crew of rabbits in destroying our netting before harvest, allowing them run of the tasty vines and opening the way for an aerial assault on the fruit by the birds. When the holes have been sewn up and his plans have been defeated he turns his attention to our precious water. In true warrior style he cuts off precious supply lines, chewing through the waterlines, attempting to prevent the fruit from receiving the valuable liquid they need. The vineyard team battle on thwarting his crew at every turn to keep our prized wine flowing, but his deviance continues.
He lives mostly by the gully where the deer roam. We see occasional glimpses of him perched there, ears pricked up, surveying his land. Every now and then, however, he comes up the shared driveway that leads into Mountford Estate itself. As I drive in each morning occasionally he is standing on the road, staring us down, and I swear that in the early morning light I can see his nostrils flare and hear his battle cry: “You may take my life, but you will never take my freedom!”Then, after one last cocky look, he bounds away. Off to live another day, patrolling Mountford’s gully and drive, elusive, defiant and grudgingly respected.
One day he will be caught or, as a small part of me hopes, he will quietly slip away in his peaceful old age. Even so, his legend will live on. Future generations of the Mountford Estate family will be told of the enormous, elusive, legendary hare that got away. The ones who were there, who remember him, will smile at the memory of the vaguely respected ‘pest’ and as they recall they will hear him through the mist:
“You may take my life, but you will never take my freedom!”