Wednesday, August 13, 2008

For Professional Use Only

There is a pernicious tale still circulating that one needs to kill a rabbit in order to use its wool. I stridently say, Nay Nay!

Now, if one requires a rabbit PELT, then yes, the said rabbit needs to be of the deceased variety. Likewise with the so-called Lucky Rabbit's Foot, which is lucky only if killed at the full moon. (Not so lucky for the rabbit, though.)

Angora Bunny Wool, on the other hand, is harvested from a live and frisky lapine. With good husbandry (in my case, wifely?) skills and luck, an angora can live many years, thus yielding several pounds of lovely wool per creature over its natural lifetime.

Angora rabbits are apparently a genetic variation on a wild rabbit, and the histories say that they were found and subsequently domesticated in Ankara, Turkey. (Hence the name.) Without the aid of humans to frequently shear their long wool, they could not survive in the "wild."

So, they exist because of human keepers, with their long, soft, warm, and luxurious angora wool. We angora ranchers harvest that wool. Very much like how shepherds shear the sheep wool once or twice a year. (Yes, they generally eat the extra lambs and the older sheep - mutton.) In that way, those sheep are different from my babies. (I could not eat Baby Bunny Stew. Unless I were starving. It's all relative, I guess.) (See below.)

My bunnies are kept in clean quarters with fresh hay and water, rabbit pellets and occasional treats. I tend their diseases, if they have them, in the best way I can. I even snip off the rare tumor if I have to. When I scissor off their wool every three months, I clip their toenails and give them a general once-over to check for problems. Mostly, I believe my rabbits are healthy and as happy as a rabbit can be.

They depend upon me for their survival. I am not a farmer. I am an all-too-caring human and so I do not cull as a general rule. Take for example Groovy of the Wry Neck. I should have culled him, aka killed him, more than 6 months ago. I couldn't then and I can't now. Not as long as he is eating and pooping and not suffering.

I am responsible for their care and well-being. I have put a bullet in my babies' head, when I knew they were dying and they were suffering. I hated it, oh how I hated it, but I felt it to be my duty to them. I hate to see them suffering, knowing what the end would be in any case.

At times, when a bunny dies and has a good coat, I will skin and process the pelt myself rather than letting it go to the coyotes and buzzards.

It has been a process, finding this balance. I am fortunate in that, during my lifetime so far, I do not have to hunt, shoot, trap, and kill fur bearing creatures to keep me warm and keep me alive.

In another lifetime, I imagine I would have had no qualms about making the choice between them or me. Eat or be eaten.

So it goes.

1 comment:

Mouse said...

I seriously hope that this post wasn't prompted by some moron coming and accusing you of killing your bunnies to get spinning fiber. That said.. thanks for the 'history' lesson! I always wondered where angoras came from. (besides.. of course.. 2 other angoras.. lol)