Monday, December 31, 2007

Not for the Squeamish

In my blog profile, I say that I keep thirty-five some odd barn bunnies. I need to update, because there has been attrition since I wrote that. I counted the barn bunnies this morning, and there are twenty-three angoras out there. Counted again, same sum. Where did the twelve or so go?

Quentin died with wry neck in the Spring. Lost Soul Man the Old Man in August. He was of venerable age. He succumbed to the heat even though he was in the cooler back yard. In October, I sold Sammy, KoKola, Bunicula, and Caspar at the Southern Indiana FiberArts Festival. That's six.

Hippy died of unknown causes in early November. Lucy went to her eternal sleep earlier this month, from renal failure. Candy passed just a few days ago, of intestinal stasis, aka wool block. Yesterday, Griselda passed from a combination of old age and hind end paralysis. That's four more. That leaves two unaccounted for. Sheila is an inside angora - maybe I counted her.

I tried to autopsy Lucy, because none of my resources spoke to her condition. She ate and drank and pooped just fine until her end, but she had a big ol' pot belly. It was hard to make that first cut with the knife. Took more power than I thought. A lot of water poured out of her belly cavity, so I know that was the cause of the pot belly, and I can only extrapolate that it was kidney failure.

I had decided at some point that if I lost a bunny in full wool, I would skin it for the pelt. It would be such a waste not to. Candy unfortunately was my opportunity; a big white girl, born last January. She had gone off her feed for a couple of days - but I figured that once she was clipt, all would be fine. That has always worked in the past. She was two weeks from clipping, so I was distressed to find her cold in her cage last week. Okay, Fuzzy Girl, let's do it.

I pulled out my huge edition of The Encyclopedia of Country Living and read up on skinning rabbits. Could I do this? Reckon so. Once their little heads are removed, the task is much easier. I hung her with rope laced through her Achilles tendons and pulled her coat off like a sweater. Then gutted the carcass where I discovered the solid mass in her cecum - i.e. the intestinal block. Crap. Literally. I should have been more pro-active when she went off her feed. Too late now.

I'm in the process of curing her pelt - an education in itself.

If you are squeamish, just remember that we are only a few decades removed from killing game, large and small, in order to survive. When there was no general store, one made use of every little thing. Eat it or use it. My daddy used to shoot squirrels for our supper, and raised rabbits for meat. Mom and Dad were both exasperated that I wouldn't eat the fried meat. I don't know if my brothers did. Guess I wasn't hungry enough. Not starving.

Mom and Dad both were brought up in the poverty of the Great Depression. Eat what you can get. So when I took Candy's carcass to the Tibetan Burial Field, I thought that if her death circumstances were better, I could actually see eating her flesh, of which there was a lot. She was a big girl.

We modern people, used to getting our meat in a nice, plastic-wrapped package from the grocery, we prefer to not think of how this meat came to be in the refrigerated section of our favorite store. The killing and cutting them up involved. Let's not think about that and just have another burger or hot dog or chicken wing.

I'm glad that I had the opportunity to realize all of this.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And I'm happy that you printed this; too many blogs shy away from the gritty reality that raising livestock entails. And it is an education; even though you lost animals, perhaps someone else can benefit from your losses. Thank you.
Nancy NeverSwept