On Wednesday of this week we returned home to find a rabbit sitting right in the middle of my carrot patch, or I should say the remains of my carrot patch eating its fill. I grabbed a rock and jumped over the garden fence after it I chased it around the garden for a little and then it started to do something that blew my mind. It started doing flips into the net fencing. Now I had no intention of actually throwing my rock at it so I stood their dumbfounded at the rabbits behavior. Right up to the point where it was through the fence and off into the woods.
It seems that the rabbits have figured out they can just jump up against the fencing to tear a hole for themselves. Once I knew this I did an thourough examination of the fencing and found several holes a bunny height where they had either come in or out of the garden. With the fencing being so hard to see I just hadn't noticed them before.
Note: If you're squeamish about eating meat, or hunting I'd suggest not reading further into this post.
On Thursday we returned home to find a rabbit once again in the middle of the carrot patch. It is like they sit their waiting for a new shoot to grow so they can chew it right off. This time I chased the rabbit right underneath the shed. With him cornered I setup a perimeter around the shed that I thought it wouldn't be able to get through, which of course I was wrong about. It dashed through my setup and started doing its flip spin kicks into the netting. This time, however, I knew what was up and I did my own dash after the rabbit. Much to my surprise I was able to pounce on it and catch it with my gloved hands.
At this point in time there were a million conflicting thoughts and emotions running through my mind. I've never held a wild rabbit in my hands, and truth be told Watership Down is my favorite book of all time. I have great empathy for the fact that the rabbit was just going to its favorite new food source, and that it has no concept of right or wrong or stealing. More importantly, I'm normally extremely gentle with all types of life. I even capture wasps and bees in the house and let them outside safely. Though I will admit I swat flies, mosquitoes, and squish ticks on sight.
There were moments as I held it trying to decide what to do that I seriously thought about just letting it go. What changed my mind, however, was simply looking back into the garden and seeing all the bare areas of earth that should have been green a vibrant by this time of year. While I'll leave out the details I will say that the Discovery channel's various survivor series such as Bear Grylls Man vs. Wild made the whole process of processing the rabbit fairly straight forward.
I will admit that after killing the Rabbit I cried. Modern man, even meat eaters, have been so insulated from what it takes to get meat into the cellophane wrapped packages at the Super Market that I just was overwhelmed with having ended a life myself, even if I do it indirectly all the time. It was Michelle encouraging me to actually go through all the necessary steps to clean the Rabbit that calmed me down and let me do what needed to be done. In the end I feel it would have been very disrespectful of the Rabbit to have killed it and not eaten it.
The Rabbit stew on the stove.
Michelle's bowl of stew. She didn't take part in the processing of the Rabbit at all just to ensure that she didn't have any risk of coming down with Tularemia in the case that the Rabbit was a carrier. The meat was fried before hand and then boiled in the stew for a long while to kill anything that might be in the meat.
I actually had a hard time taking the first bite, despite Michelle's encouragement that it was really tasty. When I did take my first bite I was somewhat amazed that she wasn't kidding. It wasn't just tasty, it was really friggin' good. It was almost like eating a chicken heart stew, and wasn't very gamey at all.
The saga is not over, however, when we came home Friday that remaining pumpkin plants in the front bed were denuded and to make matters worse there was another Rabbit sitting in the carrot patch. I chased it around until its flip kicks got it through the netting, as I didn't really have the desire to catch and clean another one so soon. I would note, however, that we stewed up the Rabbit Friday night. If I had known how tasty they were I'm not so sure I wouldn't have pounced on this one too.
Still in honor of the bunny I created a spore creature in memoriam called the Nibbler.