Friday, May 20, 2011

rabbit fail {or} what to do when your food has a face

I couldn't decide on a title for this post because it's very I gave it two.

It is also NOT for the faint of heart.

We have some friends who raise rabbits to sell and eat and, about a month ago, they were kind enough to gift us a pregnant doe. Our intent is to practice sustainability by raising rabbits as a food source. This was primarily Kevin's idea, and really a good one, at that. But, I must admit I have mixed feelings about this, as I have never raised anything for the sole purpose of eating it. This is very strange, because I have eaten meat my whole life.  It is a curious thing that, in a society where meat is literally at the center of every meal, there is such a disconnect between meat and the animals it comes from.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Last Saturday, the doe began "nesting". She pulled a ridiculous amount of her fur out and lined the nesting box Dan made for her a few weeks ago.  I recognized this behavior from some articles I had read online about rabbits giving birth (which is called kindling...betcha didn't know that).

Sure enough, Sunday morning before church I went out to check on her and she had given birth to 9 babies (kits).

Now,  I must tell you that this particular doe is quite young (5 months) and had already given birth to one litter that did not survive, so I was quite concerned about these little ones.

Because someday I'll eat them.

Do you see how weird this is?

Anyway, as the day went on, I discovered, to my dismay, that the doe did not seem to be spending any time in the box with her kits, and was concerned that she may not be feeding them. So I called our friends up and asked them if this was normal, and they said yes, it is very normal.  Rabbits, it turns out, are not very nurturing mothers.  They feed their kits and then they get as far away from them as possible... I guess I can empathize. Nevertheless, I told that mama doe she'd better take care of her babies, or I would eat her.

It seemed that we had an understanding.

Alas, Tuesday night I came home from work, to find 9 dead kits strewn about the rabbit hutch.  The doe had dumped over the nesting box and killed them all. I will not attempt to tell you how horrified I was.  Every maternal instinct in me revolted at the thought that a mother would do this to her offspring, even if she was just an animal.

Apparently this is a very common thing for rabbits to do, and no one knows exactly why they do it.  There are many theories, and the conclusion is that the doe does it to somehow protect her young, either from predators, or from starvation if she feels there is not enough food to sustain them.

It doesn't make it any easier.

The next morning, having deemed the doe unfit for breeding, Kevin and our friend Joe, butchered her and fried her up for lunch.  As disgusted as I was with her postpartum massacre (and despite my promise to eat her if her kits died), I was still very reticent to partake in the meal.  But I tried a few the hope that I'll get used to it.

She tasted just like chicken.

jen g.


  1. I am laughing out loud right now; a mixed reaction of horror & amusement. You go friend… I never new eating rabbit fell into the 'sustainable' category. ;)

  2. mmm, barbecued rabbit...doesn't get better than that! I raised rabbits as a kid and mom butchered them out. You will get used to it! Plus, it is a lot easier, and cheaper, than raising a calf or even a lamb. I think it is awesome that you guys are pursing this. I wish I lived closer so I could help!

  3. LOL

    I wish you lived closer so you could help too, Jenny F. (and you too, Jenny J....good heavens there are a lot of Jens about!)...but also just so I could you more often!

  4. So hilarious, sad, ironic, and tragic! :) So are you getting more?????

  5. Jacque, Kev wants more, so probably. Hopefully we'll get a doe that doesn't have postpartum psychosis...LOL

  6. So funny Jen! We are thinking about getting our girls a rabbit as a sort of "practice pet" for the back yard. Maybe you could give me the name of your supplier. We will not be eating ours though! :)blech!