Last month I posted a picture of a small rabbit I found in my back yard. As I was cutting grass this morning, I saw two rabbits, and they were much larger. My first impulse was the product of millions of years of evolution – and a Tennessee upbringing that was more rural than suburban: “just the right size to eat!”
My father kept rabbits for a while when I was growing up (along with cows and chickens and horses and more gardens than I care to remember). Much of the rabbit work fell to me: feeding them, cleaning their cages, putting out fresh straw for pregnant does, and, when the young rabbits reached somewhere around three months old, butchering them. I hated farm work (and still do), but I learned where food comes from, and that’s an important lesson.
I remember how to build live-capture traps, and the thought of trapping these rabbits went through my head… as did the thought that maybe I shouldn’t. I don’t need them for food, and while they are rather tasty (yes, they taste like chicken, but with more flavor), the thought occurred that these rabbits might be more than just food.
And then I saw one of them eating the vines growing on my gigantic rosemary bush. Last year the vines just about covered it and some branches started turning yellow before I cut the vines away. I had noticed I hadn’t needed to cut the vines this year but didn’t think about why that might be – now I know.
There are no predators for these rabbits – people around here keep their dogs fenced in and their cats indoors. If two rabbits become eight or ten or twelve I reserve the right to build those traps and eat what I catch.
But for now, we have an arrangement: the rabbits can eat the vines, and I won’t eat the rabbits.