Rabbit: Its What’s for Dinner

For a book nerd like me, it has been a rush to read about things and then see them in action.  Reading is how I learned to cook, can, sprout, garden, decorate, build websites, raise worms, coupon shop, even palm read. Lavar Burton was right, “take a look, it’s in a book.”   This “farm” has been like an over elaborate book report!  But the shift from black and white to live action was never so dramatic as it was last weekend.  You’ll recall my post on our rabbit operation; I was full of plans and theories and even jokes (me? never!)  I lightly posted our visions of home meat production and wholesome values.  Well here I sit on the other end, the cycle complete….I don’t know what to say.

Here is a short pictorial account of the journey:

Becca holding the Mack Daddy of the bunny operation

Insert magic wand sound and sparkles here.

Voila! neatly turned into meat!

Brined, Braised, and Bon Appetit!

I swear, that is exactly how it happened.  And we all live happily ever after.

If you are still reading, then maybe you don’t believe me.

I have pondered the “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and Shea and I both agree that if you don’t want to be a vegetarian, then you should be respectful, ethical, and conservative in your meat consumption.  We figured raising our own meat, eggs, and milk was a cost-effective alternative to purchasing the more expensive free-range, natural products.  The rabbit enterprise seemed perfect.

You may have noticed that when I posted in JUNE that I mentioned our first round of babies would be ready in 4 weeks.  Nearly twice that time has elapsed, partly because we have been really busy, and partly because, when it came time to butcher the rabbits we were, well, chicken.  So, 2 weeks ago Shea finally “processed” the first 2 bunnies.  The plan was for me to help, but when it came down to it, he locked me out and forbade anyone coming in the garage to help.  Shea was very white-faced and sullen when he emerged with two Ziplocks of meat.  He could hardly talk about it.

The following Saturday, he prepared to finish the job: 6 more rabbits.  I insisted on helping because I didn’t want him going through that again by himself.  I reasoned that Shea is a sensitive soul, and I could be strong (code for insensitive.)  All the reading I did was not enough to prepare me.  I will spare you too many details.  Books don’t tell you that bunnies scream.  Articles don’t tell you that their eyes don’t close and they stare at you.  And no one writes what it feels like to take a life.

I dealt pretty well with skinning and cleaning them. I was even a little proud of my cave girl skills.  I was faster than Shea (he points out we weren’t racing.)  All that was okay.  It is the brief moment between when the rabbit is breathing and when it is not that things get difficult.  You can use words like “fast” or “humane,” but killing something…that is the traumatic part.

I can see why people go vegetarian.

Shea and I have discussed this at great length, and we are going to stick with the plan.  If we are going to consume meat, we both feel we should assume the responsibility, the burden, attached with that.  This whole experience was educational and sobering for me, much more so than reading a book.  I still can’t figure how to convey it.

We resolved not to waste a scrap of food.  I researched how to cook rabbit (reading again!), and fumbled my way through the prep.  I brined and then braised our first meal and served it with steamed veggies and fresh fruit. It was like our version of the first thanksgiving.  Even the kids were reverent as we blessed the food and gave thanks.  For the record it does taste like chicken…dark meat.  Damon says it is much better than eating worms.

We probably sound melodramatic to hunters who have done this a hundred times, or to those who’ve only seen their meat faceless between two sesame buns.  We probably are.  But I think being connected to our food supply has benefits that surpass monetary value or even health.  This blog post was probably a bit dry (though thankfully, the meat wasn’t!!) but the experience really knocked the jokes right out of me.  I am hoping we will get faster and perhaps less introspective as we repeat the process in the future.  I can say I am thankful my family has never gone hungry, thankful I don’t rely on my hunting skills to live, and thankful I married a guy who will go through the trenches with me…even if we created those trenches ourselves.

Fast Food: These nuggets can run!

Now, cross your fingers.  We have 12 meat chickens running around–they graduated from Damon’s windowsill–and they are a getting pretty big.  Gulp.

7 comments on “Rabbit: Its What’s for Dinner

  1. Rebecca B on said:

    Wow, Kristin. I don’t know what else to say, except I’m more glad than ever that I’m a vegetarian now. And not a hungry pioneer.

    • Kristin on said:

      I considered it, good job you. Is your family vegetarian also? I didn’t feel I could impose vegetarianism on my family and I believe lean protein is a healthy part of our diet. There is a lot of responsibility that goes with the choice to eat meat. Shea and I are trying to be more conscious consumers. I would love to hear how your family is doing with your veggie lifestyle! Email me and we can swap recipes!!

  2. That Catherine Girl on said:

    You are, as always, way stronger than I could ever hope to be. I really respect all the efforts you have made with your farm and with your family – you are amazing!

  3. Charity on said:

    Kristin, Wow. You’ve got guts. And I don’t think you’re being melodramatic at all. I think the thought and care you’ve put into feeding your family is amazing. Thanks, as usual, for inspiring me.

  4. Great post. Sobering. Beautiful. I’m so glad you shared this with us.

  5. I’ve been debating about raising rabbits for food. I’m not sure it would go over too well as we lost a pet rabbit to a random neighborhood animal last year. I really don’t think my daughter would ever forgive me if we ate any bunnies.

    Don’t worry as much about the chickens though. They are not soft and cuddley, so it’s kind of like killing fish. Really not that bad. And just remember, if you don’t kill a meat hen they’ll get fatter and fatter until their legs break. So really, by killing them, you are doing them a service. :)

    Good Luck!

  6. Pingback: Updates on our mini farm: Animals! | whereverthere

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