Hi. My name is Lisa and I’m a recovering rabbit killer. For the record, I never enjoyed killing cute little bunnies, quite the opposite. I did it because I felt I needed to. It has been about 3 years since I last killed a rabbit. Why did I kill them? How could I do such a despicable thing? Well, If you must know, I’ll tell you.
Hooked on Rabbits
This story starts in a quiet suburban backyard around 2007. Imagine, if you will, a middle aged housewife, homeschooling mom, gardener, ‘retired’ landscape designer, and prepper out puttering in the yard. Unbeknownst to the neighbors or local authorities, this mild mannered gardener was hatching plans to become more self reliant in this crazy world. That homesteader wannabe was me.
Something Wasn’t Right
I knew that all was not well with our modern world of convenience. The complex system of big agriculture, factory processing, and transportation of food to grocery stores has always been susceptible to disruption. Take away petroleum, shut down the roads, power down the grid and what are you left with? Hungry people. Hungry people tend to riot and steal. I don’t want to see my family go hungry, so I planted larger and larger gardens, preserved the harvest, stocked up on staples, and learned to forage for food.
Wanting to be More Self Reliant
But I wanted more. I wanted to provide meat for our table. Chickens were not allowed in our subdivision. I thought about keeping a few chickens in our basement, but hubby wasn’t keen on that idea, for some strange reason. So my thoughts turned to rabbits.
Could Rabbits be the Answer?
Rabbits are fairly easy and inexpensive to raise. They are quiet and manageable. You don’t need much equipment to get started and they don’t take up much space. They can also be passed off as pets, if necessary. The meat tastes great and their pelts can be used to make nice fuzzy things like mittens. I started reading up on raising rabbits for meat. My only experience was keeping rabbits for pets when I was a kid. I admit, rather sheepishly, that I wasn’t supposed to be raising meat rabbits in my suburban back yard. But I figured it was better than smuggling in chickens. So the journey began.
Let’s Find Out!
I obtained a breeding pair of New Zealand Whites from a local rabbitry. They were pretty hefty bunnies and rather wild, but even so, I could handle them easily. Within months I had young rabbits to butcher and breed. The neighbors right around us had no problem with my rabbit project. I’m sure they thought I was nuts, but that wasn’t really anything new. However, I felt kind of weird about killing and dressing my ‘livestock’ in the back yard. It never really became second nature to me…after all, I had pet rabbits as a kid, and I was sort of breaking some rules. Sort of.
Wait, I Have to Kill Them?
Before this experience I had only killed and cleaned fish. Fish – no biggie. Rabbits – ugh. My cousin told me the best way to kill the rabbits was to whack them on the back of the head and then slit their throats while they were unconscious. Once they bled out, I could skin and eviscerate them. I had also read about breaking their necks and I tried this. Maybe it was because I wasn’t too keen on killing anything to begin with, or maybe I just didn’t have the brute strength…but after a couple of botched attempts to break a bunny neck, I gave up and went for the less elegant method of bashing them on the back of the head then slitting their throats.
Head bashing never really settled too well with me, and it scared the living daylights out of our cat. I’ll never forget the first time he strolled up during a bunny butcher session. ‘Hey human, what’s up?” Whap! “Holy COW, what did the rabbit do to deserve that? I am outta here!” and he ran up a tree and sat there watching me with his eyes as wide as saucers. Yeah, like you never kill anything, dude. Let’s go talk to the chipmunks about that.
I managed to process my rabbits and actually got pretty good at it. Our family started to eat a lot of rabbit. I had them in the freezer with more ready to butcher every 2 or 3 months. When you hear that rabbits can provide a lot of meat for a family, it really is true. With one buck and 2 does, you can provide enough meat for an average family to eat really well…as long as you like rabbit.
I was happy to have a source of home raised meat. Our fruit trees were producing and the garden had taken over most of our yard. But it sill wasn’t enough for me. When the bottom fell out of the housing market, we decided to take a chance on selling and moving to a property zoned agricultural so I could raise poultry for meat and eggs too. It was a scary prospect. We lost money on our house. Our dream property was no where to be found…at least not in our price range. But we compromised and found a house with one acre of land, zoned ag, within 20 minutes of hubby’s work. I wanted more land and more barn, but I didn’t want to be house poor. We made the plunge.
The breeding stock moved with us to the new place in 2010. I continued to raise and butcher rabbits for another year or so after the move. What I wasn’t prepared for was a rebellion. The ones I hold dearest, my husband and son, turned against me. They decided they didn’t really want to eat rabbits anymore. Huh?! I did the work to raise, butcher, and prepare the meat. It wasn’t easy for me to kill the cute little fuzzy bunnies, but I did it. I did it to provide meat for our table. Because our son refused to eat meat that wasn’t humanely raised and killed. Because I wanted to increase our self reliance. Because I don’t like buying meat of questionable quality from the grocery store.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the uneasy feeling that hubby and son had about eating fuzzy bunnies. A declaration was made: We like chicken better! Well, I’m definitely not raising meat rabbits for just me to eat. So I sold my breeding stock and concentrated my efforts on raising more meat chickens, ducks, and turkeys. It’s all good. I admit readily that it is much easier for me to kill poultry than rabbits. I like the meat just as well. And my guys are happy.
Every so often I see articles about raising rabbits for meat. And I get a bee in my bonnet. What if I just kept one breeding pair? I still have a couple of cages and feeders in the barn. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the furs? BBQ rabbit would taste really good right now! And then reality sets in.
I would have a revolt on my hands if I brought home any more rabbits!