The Next Frontier

When I tell my loved ones about something new I’m about to do, their reaction is usually one of subtle surprise. Either with their words or just a look, their response always seems to say, “of course you are.” It’s as if they wouldn’t have expected anything less.

I’m a girl with many ideas, who has shared her lofty plans with them with zeal and intention many times. But I’m also a girl with follow-through – a girl who often reaches the goals she sets out to accomplish. And with urban farming, I’ve proven to those around me that I have the dedication to make those dreams a reality. Even when my family thinks that what I’m doing is crazy, they love me anyway and support me along the way.

That’s the reaction I got when I told them that I am going to start looking into raising rabbits for meat. Of course, my sister, who was the loving owner of two rabbits growing up, reacted with a bit more intensity. After hearing the news, she texted me, the shock clear in her message. “You’re going to eat rabbits??? Didn’t Bun-bun and Elmo mean anything to you?” Truth be told, they didn’t really. They weren’t my pets and the rabbits I plan on getting won’t be either.

There is a lot to be said about raising rabbits:

  • they take up less space than ducks, turkeys, or chickens
  • their manure is amazing for the garden and doesn’t have to be composted the way chicken manure does
  • they’re quiet
  • they reproduce like, um, rabbits
  • their pelts can be harvested for the fur

This is truly the next frontier, at least for my urban farming career. If my mom could see me now, her picky little girl, she’d be shocked. And truthfully, I’m kind of shocked as well.  When my grandma told me the story of how she couldn’t stand to eat the rabbit that was served to her at my grandpa’s house, I could totally relate. Ew! I wouldn’t want to eat it either, I’d say. But now, I’m on my way to raise them for my table? Looks like my newfound love of food and drive for self-sufficiency is winning over my childhood picky habits.

And yes, they’re cute and furry, but I’m bound and determined to learn to call them food. No names like the chickens. I can’t guarantee I won’t cry when I have to kill them too, but I am confident that I’ll do it.

It’s time. Rabbits are the new chickens in the world of urban farming and I just can’t help but be intrigued. My interest was piqued when I read Farm City. Then, I heard about it again from someone in the Seattle Farm Co-op. And now, a class at Seattle Tilth? I’m in! I signed up for the class and we’ll see what happens from there. But if the past is any indication of what’s to come, I’ll bring this idea to fruition too. My family might have reacted with a little more surprise then usual, but I know they’ll come around. After all, my dad loves those chickens more than I do.

*image by Jenn Ireland

10 thoughts on “The Next Frontier

  1. brookeO

    I loved reading this post. I recently shared my plans of raising rabbits with my family. They responded with strong opposition. I look forward to reading more about the addition of rabbits to your urban farm!

  2. Daedre

    I’m planning on getting into meat rabbit this year too! I’m really excited to produce my own meat. I would love it if one day I could stop buying meat at the grocery store.

  3. Jenny

    So excited you wrote about this. I’ve been researching raising rabbits for meat and having a hard time finding any good information about it. I’m thankful Seattle Tilth is having a workshop as well, see you there!

  4. Shango

    My brother raises rabbits for meat. He and his wife have named them Breakfast, lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch, dinner…. Good luck!

  5. Debs

    We used to do this (california meat rabbits) but we built everything from hutches to nesting boxes. Wait, we bought water bottles and feed bins. I’ve been wanting to do this in town but there are a lot of dogs in the area besides our two rat killing terriers. Worried that they will not be able to tell the difference between a rat and a rabbit.

    The hardest part is the first kill (every season). After that you are in business. We had young boys when we had rabbits. The rule was, if it had a name it did not get eaten. They were A’la King (the Mr) Fricassee and Ah L’Orange. Those three bunnys kept us in meat. Average 6 per litter, three litters per year. Home grown rabbit is to store bought rabbit as homegrown eggs are to factory eggs. So good!

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