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:
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.
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.