Last week I broke one of my cardinal rules of keeping livestock. I bought a rabbit, despite the unfinished state of the rabbit shed. I know better. It is always a pain to try and take care of animals you are not prepared for. My only excuse for this, and it is a poor one, is that a friend of mine was meeting a breeder of Champagne d’ Argents from Arkansas and she offered to bring a lovely little buck for me. I’ve always liked the breed and just couldn’t resit the opportunity to get started with so little effort and for a reasonable price.
Thus, Dinner came to live with us. He’s beautiful, soft, and quite personable, especially if one has food.
Those who are not familiar with raising livestock may think my choice of a name is flippant, even disrespectful. This is definitely not the case. I chose his name carefully, with due consideration for the others in our household. You see, I was born and raised around livestock. I know what it is to raise an animal for slaughter. I understand at a gut level that certain animals will be killed for our food and thus my relationship with them is appropriate to that end, respectful, even fond, but never forgetting its purpose.
Neither Tony, nor Madalyn grew up this way. Their primary exposure to living animals has been as pets and not as livestock. This has not been an issue at Half-Pint Homestead thus far. Goats and chickens survive their production cycle and we haven’t had them long enough for them to become unproductive. This, however, changes with the rabbits. Not only is their sole purpose to provide meat and fur for the family, but there is definitely a cuteness factor. Naming this buck Dinner, even though he is breeding stock, helps to remind us of his purpose and ultimate fate. Each time the name is spoken, this hard truth is reinforced.
It is sometimes difficult to stare the consequences of our survival in the face. To know that another living creature died so I can live is an awesome responsibility. As the only species capable of moral distinction, we often struggle with this as no other creature on this beautiful earth does. Yet the cycle cannot be cheated and there is always a price for life. We choose to accept that responsibility and raise our food with gentleness and respect….
and the help of an appropriate name.