Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Why I Eat Rabbits at Dancing Rabbit

I realize that there are those who think it's just wrong to eat animals and I don't have any argument with them, but for those who are open to the idea, I thought I'd explain the reason why I eat rabbits here at Dancing Rabbit.

From what I understand, Dancing Rabbit got its name before the people who started it even bought the land in Missouri where the future ecovillage was to be located.  When they eventually moved here, they were surprised to find rabbits running around, possibly dancing (maybe if you squinted your eyes a bit), everywhere. So the name was never some kind of tribute to the abundant rabbits found here.

Rabbit in the pressure cooker

My first experiences with rabbits here were fairly positive.  I liked seeing them hopping around but always thought of bunnies as fuzzy cute things, never as food.  After gardening at Dancing Rabbit for a while, I came to realize that the bunnies made things very difficult.  They are pretty much the reason people have to fence their gardens.  If you don't have a fence, it will be difficult if not impossible to get most vegetables going, and forget about edamame or carrots for the entire season.  And they always seem to find ways to get into fencing and devastate your crops. Although rabbits eat all of some tender plants, they have a pernicious habit of lopping off the tops of anything you plant and just leaving the top sitting there uneaten. 

This habit has been incredibly destructive in the vineyard where, even though I protect the trunks of the vines, when it snows enough in the middle of winter, I'll find a year's worth of growth hanging free from its trunk on the trellis.  The vine will take at least another year to recover. Sometimes rabbits just damage the trunk and crown gall sets in, strangling the vine slowly over a few years if it isn't pruned to the ground.  It's setbacks like these, that a rabbit does seemingly on a whim, that are the most frustrating. "Oh, maybe I'll hop over here and set back his vines a year doing something that takes me about a half second to do---and then not even eat the vine at all."!!?