One thing I love in life is that nice feeling I get when putting food up. Whether it's homemade bread into the freezer, canned foods that we have worked on over the summer, now going into the pantry, or homegrown meats going into the deep freeze. Ever felt that way before? It's sort of a "Come what may; I am prepared" feeling. I always smile when putting that food away for future meals. It's a good thing.
Today's work consisted of, ahem, *harvesting* the meat rabbits. I find that the word "butchering" bothers some folks, so I stick with the slightly more discreet term of 'harvesting' for sake of courtesy.
Now, I really don't like harvesting animals. Believe me, I don't. I am an animal lover right down to my toes, but I'm also a carnivore. And I'm a carnivore who feels convicted to take part in the responsibility of knowing where my meat came from, how it was raised, and then how it was processed. I just feel that if I'm going to take part in eating meat; in eating another living, breathing creature, I want to take full responsibility for it from start to finish. If you have never raised your own animal for meat, and then butchered it yourself, let me tell you something: It will change you. Eating meat from the grocery store is a mindless act; you simply consume it, not knowing any of the animals history. Eating an animal that you raised yourself gives you a sense of pride and self-sufficiency. But raising and then processing your own animal will give the ultimate feeling. It's a mix of pride and humbleness. You know the entire story. You see before you on the plate what was once a black rabbit with a white blaze, who's name was Felix. You'll say to yourselves: "My goodness that rabbit could jump high... Remember that day he escaped and we let him stay loose for two whole weeks? He dug tunnels through the entire rabbitry floor, and made such a mess of things... But he never strayed far." Good ol' Felix.
There's pride in knowing that he was a happy creature, and lived a good life. But oh the humble feeling when you see him on a plate. No longer looking like a rabbit... There's a feeling of respect too. You took his life, now it's only fair to honor what was taken by eating him. It's a dance of death and life that has gone in circles for hundreds and hundreds of years. This is just the way things are. Perhaps you are a vegetarian, or a vegan, or something else. That's fine with me. I certainly have no qualms with folks who have such a strong measure of self control. I'm hopeless... I love meat. But my hat is off to you who have chosen a different path in life than mine.
I didn't finish harvesting all the fryers (term for a young meat rabbit) today. Poppet, that
annoying brat sweet darling of a Nigerian Dwarf was continuously getting in my way, escaping from the pasture, and otherwise making a muck of things. So the majority of my day was spent not dealing with rabbits, but running down a roly poly excuse for a goat and trying to keep her in one place. I was tuckered before I had hardly started! But I got enough fryers done today that I can easily finish tomorrow or Saturday. So it works out.
I came inside the house to cut the fryers up into pieces, wrap them into nice, neat packages, and then put them in the fridge to cure for 24 hours. They are sitting there quietly now... Little square packages that hardly resemble a rabbit. I looked at those packages and felt that nice feeling wash over me.
Come what may. I am prepared.
It's a good feeling.