Saturday, 13 December 2008
The Mink - A Ruthless Killing Machine.
The mink's box was a wooden hutch,with a sloping roof and a waterproofed felt cover,hinged to open, to allow handling of the mink (only with special large gloves). A sliding metal door was built into the front of the box,when the mink required to be isolated eg.when cleaning the cage or after a "supersonic" mating session. Again,Seoras had everything worked out for me assembling the mink boxes. Measurements and angles were standardised,and all the tools were at hand - Black&Decker rotary electric saw(with angle guide),hammer,nails,felt tacks,sheet metal cutters,Stanley knife.I'm only giving these details for those DIY aficionados that enthuse about such matters,because I myself was very enthusiastic about the mink boxes and cages back in 1956. So,five years after "the electric" was switched on in the "dailean",there was I ripping up planks of pine with an electric saw! The mink boxes/cages were housed over in the "leis" in croft No.6 in long roofed stands,in parallel arrangement. The female mink were much smaller than their male counterparts,and were lightening fast in their movements,and could traverse their cage in a matter of milliseconds. You did not stick your finger through the hexagonal mesh,as a test of reaction speeds - never,ever! What I am about to recount illustrates the speed and tenacity of the female mink. The mink's prepared food was placed at a top corner of the cage furthest from its box,so that it stretched up to feed,with its sharp little nose protruding no more than one,perhaps two centimetres(at a push)through the wire mesh. Being beside the sea,there were always gulls around,and some of these would swoop to take a beakful of the mink's feed. One day while we were feeding the mink,a seagull,descending very slowly and hovering just above a cage, allowed one of its webbed feet to enter the top of the cage through the mesh,just for an instant. The mink's response was immediate;it now held the seagull's leg and was pulling it further into the cage. The gull's wings were flapping wildly,aiming to escape,but in a short time the mink's teeth had transferred to the bird's "undercarriage" and was eating its vital organs,with the gull still flapping its wings,albeit very slowly now. The death of this seagull occurred when it offered the mink a very small "window of opportunity",about 1 or 2 centimetres of the mesh's diameter. The death of the unfortunate bird was not intended as a piece of gratuitous violence. It merely illustrates the deadly killing machine that is the mink.