Service Your Gear Time

by Max Abell

Well it's nearly the end of June and we are looking forward to another ferreting season. We normally start at the end of August, most of the rabbits have finished their breeding by then and you don't tend to get held up too much.

As said before rabbits can and do breed all year round but in the winter it slows right down depending how cold the winter becomes: the colder the better for the ferreter.

The summer is the time we get all our gear out and do any repairs or updating as necessary. We check all the long net hazel sticks for splints or check the points are not blunt etc. and damaged ones are discarded; new replacements are put in the stake bag.

The long net baskets are checked for damage and the carbon fibre long net poles on the quickset systems are checked for things like the rubber caps missing off the end of the poles, these are replaced with new ones. Ferret boxes are also given the once-over every two years and are re-varnished.

The purse net pegs are also checked and the netting checked for any holes etc. We have over 400 yards of long nets of different types plus ten small stop nets, about 300 purse nets, fifteen bolt traps, six ferret boxes and numerous other bits and bobs. All is checked at the end of the season: there is nothing worse than seeing rabbits escaping due to defective ferreting gear.

After the season we tend to give the 4 x 4 Land Rover Discovery a good clean out and rearrange the inside for the summer lamping. The 4 x 4 only gets two good cleans a year, one at the end of the season and one when it goes for its MoT. She is a good old work-horse and never lets us down. After all has been checked it's then the worst bit - waiting for the next ferreting season!

We have eight kits at the moment that we bred from our best working ferret, Daisy. There are four hobs and four jills; four silvers, three albinos and one polecat coloured. They are six weeks old at the time of writing this article and they are eating a whole gutted rabbit a day right down to the bone; all I take out of the cage when they are finished is the skin with a few bones.

I have good homes for four of them and we are keeping the other four for ourselves, we need to boost our stock up a bit due to losing a couple to old age and a few to retirement. The other four that are going to new homes will be a minimum of eight weeks old before they go.

The four we are keeping will be introduced to the court slowly over time. We normally introduce the newcomers this way so that they learn to know their place and accept that they will have to wait their turn to climb the dominance ladder.

In all the years I have added new ones to our ferret court most squabbles have come to nothing and no injuries have occurred, after a few days they are cuddled up to each other in the sleeping compartments. We must close now, got to carry on the update and refurbishment of our court.

Many thanks to all who support the N.F.W.S. and ferret rescue centres.

(First published in NFWS News - #94 October 2012)