Homesteading 101: How to Skin a Bunny

Posted on July 25, 2012

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Hopefully this won’t come up in too many searches for people looking for step-by-step instructions, because that’s not what this is about, but maybe at a later time I’ll post a thorough guide to processing a rabbit. Instead, this is about the mess of a controversy I and my husband helped ignite by teaching a class by the same title as a part of the Tampa Free Skool. Following a request and a somewhat poor call on my part, pictures from the class ended up on the Facebook page and ignited some very inflammatory reactions from people – primarily those of vegan and vegetarian leanings.

I won’t hash out the entire mess of what happened in the 80 comments in the thread, because I feel like the most important point to articulate to everyone, of meat-eating habits and non-meat eating alike is the initial post that I put up:

“There was a comment this morning from someone I’m guessing left the group mentioning the ‘violent disregard for the life of other individuals’ in reference to the rabbit class. I suppose they won’t see this, but I wanted to comment that this course happened not because of a disregard for life, but rather because of a high and honorable regard for the sacredness and value of the lives of other living things, with a recognition that our life is not possible without the sacrificing of other lives, whether they be plant or animal. Just because a leafy green does not bleed when we pick and eat it does not mean that its contribution to our sustenance is any less valuable or worthwhile. I just wanted to make sure everyone was aware of how the teachers of the class feel regarding the sacrifices and deaths that happen daily to feed us.”

10 people came to the class last Sunday where we walked them through how to butcher a rabbit as they were actually completing the process. Our youngest student was 9 years old, and she comes from a house where the rule is, “If you can’t kill the animal, you can’t eat it.” For them this doesn’t mean you kill all the animals, but if you cannot bring yourself to take the life of the animal you are going to eat, you shouldn’t be eating it – a respectful way of approaching the topic, in my opinion. We made sure to put up partitions so that the neighbors, people that drive by, and other random passersby would not be privy to what ended up being a rather bloody affair when 8 or 9 rabbits were processed by the end of the day.

Our freezer is quite full of frozen pelts and rabbit brains as we are planning on learning how to brain tan through the book Buckskin I got Nate. I’m sure this will be the next most controversial class, though maybe less so than the first rabbit class because the brains have already been removed and that is the most gruesome part.

The point of the class was to educate people about keeping ethical and healthy meat and appreciating the things that we eat – in this case the animals that are so often brutally mistreated and undervalued in the commercial livestock business, but provide so much that our bodies need. Feedback was positive from those that actually attended and we may even do the same class again for people that expressed interest but were unable to attend. I’ll be sure to leave all the pictures for here instead of on a Facebook forum next time since people are not very wild about real-life animal slaughters.

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