Gunga’s End

When I wake up in the morning and when I get home in the evening I visit the baby rabbits. I pick up one of the eight cutest, softest, and ridiculously fast-growing balls of soft gray fluff smile. It’s easy to forget that just over a week ago, I (with M’s help) slaughtered and butchered Gunga, one of our two American Chinchilla does–my first  experience with a non-fish creature. I chose to cull Gunga because I was not able to breed her successfully and because she had become overweight and had a surly temperament. The time had come when we were providing her with more than she could provide us.

That being said, we named Gunga and raised her for six months. Killing and butchering her was not fun nor easy. It was an emotional and physical challenge. But the process went smoothly and I’m quite sure that M and I suffered much more trauma than her. In the end, I was left with a powerful learning experience, a beautiful pelt (which I intend to tan at a later date) and 6+ pounds of delicious, wholesome, backyard-raised meat, Quiet Owl Farm’s first.

M and I ate the liver and forelegs fresh, pan-fried in butter with only salt and pepper. The flavor was amazing. Later I slow-cooked the body and roasted the legs in different sauces. Although I won’t deny that some moments felt weird, the experience was overall one that gave me a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Pints of hearty stock now sit in the freezer. It’s the ghost of several delicious meals that circle the small kitchen table, not the spirit of Gunga. She’s long gone to the Otherside. Because, you see, Gunga didn’t die because of  cruelty or wantonness. She died an easy death after a happy life and with her death came so much.

As I play with the little ones now, it’s hard to imagine that in six weeks they will be big enough to eat. That’s the reality though. But although we have that knowledge of their future, it certainly does not mean that we cannot enjoy their company and be thrilled at this new and adorable life on Quiet Owl Farm.  This is the way of the farm after all. And I learn.

So thank you, Gunga, for what you provided and thank you, babies, for brightening our spring days!

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8 thoughts on “Gunga’s End

  1. All my life I have bought meat from the butchers without ever thinking of the animal and how it was raised. A few years ago I collected our own raised pork from the butchers for the first time. I cried…look what we have done to our pigs. It was difficult But now we always eat our own beef and pork, we know our animals were happy. I would never buy from a supermarket again. Well done for this post, it cannot be easy.

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    1. Thank you. And thank you for sharing that. I think people often believe farmers are completely disconnected from their meat animals, when in fact there is often a very real connection, especially in small farm and homestead settings. And that connection can make the end difficult and sad. But the joy of raising happy animals and eating happy meat sure makes it seem worth. To me it would seem far stranger to raise animals and avoid any emotional investment at all.

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  2. That you are doing your best to raise meat rabbits in a clean, healthy, and loving environment using best practices is honorable indeed, and I truly respect you for it. May you enjoy the soft fur for many years and enjoy the delicious bounty. You’ve earned it. Damn those bunnies are cute!

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