**NOTE: DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU ARE MORALLY OPPSOSED TO EATING MEAT OR WISH NOT TO HEAR DETAILS** This post is respectfully done, but it is the killing of a animal.
I attended a class put on by 2 of my friends called Homesteading 101: How to skin a rabbit.
I woke up late and let it slip my mind, it wasn't until I poured myself a bowl of cereal and sat down to check emails, I saw my calender post about it... 1 hour after it had started, I sent a quick text to the class leader if it was still going, no response, but since they live roughly 4 miles from me I jumped in the car with my daughter and drove over.
A small group was gathered in their covered car port surrounded by tarps and sheets, speaking quietly and watching intently as someone preformed the skinning of a freshly killed rabbit. Hutches were set up under shade with cooling water bottles and fresh food placed in side each one. I felt a pang of guilt, as I watched their little noses twitch. I hugged and greeted the guests 1/4 of which I already knew due to my activity in the community. One recognized me from this very blog (HI!), I felt at ease. My daughter went right away and started talking to people, grabbing their hands to show them the rabbits, chickens, and ducks. They were all so kind to her and let her lead them around. She completely ignored the gruesome acts happening across the room.
I walked over and started examining the scene. Drips of blood dotted the ground beneath the working station; which was a well built wood frame with string hanging to hold the animal up, and hooks to hang the tools that were needed (shears, and a sharp knife). A lifeless furry rabbit hung upside down being skinned starting at the feet and going down the body. Buckets were nearby to contain the disposable parts, clean the tools, and keep the good parts (liver, and kidney). I was shaky, nervous, and somewhat sick to my stomach. But I had done it before with the duck, and that was with an animal I had raised since it was left on my doorstep.
I took a deep breathe and watched the scene unfold, nearby stood a young girl and her mother, I watched her watch the act of dressing a rabbit, she seemed unshaken and calm. When I turned back they were taking the rabbit down and washing it out. It was time for another person to go, the little girl stepped forward. I was amazed, what a wonderfully brave girl to take on such a adult decision. Though I guess the only reason I think that is because I was raised in a lifestyle that did not require us to kill our own meat, kids raised on a farm would have started before this young girl and not have batted a eye at the idea of slaughter. A rabbit was brought to her and she was shown how to calm it and bring it to a quick clean end. She did it, and while they removed the head to bleed it out she stood by and watched, they hung it up and showed her how cut away the skin and pelt, leaving a clean removal, they saved the pelt to use later. She made small quick cuts while they showed her how and pointed out where to. She asked questions as the body opened up leading to a very good science lesson. I was totally amazed as person after person walked away with a clean wrapped rabbit ready for eating or freezing.
I was unsure about doing my own but figured I had better since I was here. I picked out my rabbit from a cage and thanked it, not for the rabbits sake but for my own, I was taking a life and I needed to understand and respect that fact. I believe so fully in the circle of life and understand if it wasn't me it would be something else but still I was the one taking this animals life and I needed those words. I was shown the steps just like the others one at a time, I took a deep breathe and dutifully followed directions, unsure of myself and worried that I would mess up and cause this animal unneeded pain instead of the quick death that was planned. It went quick, and I let out my breathe, my face grew hot, and i felt moisture in my eyes, I blinked it away and took the help that was offered to me.
As I removed the pelt, and felt the still warm body beneath my now steady hands I shook slightly, I was still not comfortable with what I had done and dont think I will ever be, but I understood that if I was to eat meat I wanted to make sure the animals had a good life, and a easy death vs what they would have if I bought the grocery store meat. I finished up and washed out my meat that looked nothing like how it had started. I was finished, my heart which had been racing the whole time started to slow, and I felt calm. Thank you little rabbit you have brought sustenance to my family and for that I am ever grateful.
I drove home in silence, just thinking.
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