The Cycle of Life~!

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Life and death is a daily thing when you grow up on a farm. I watched eggs hatch, calves being born and I helped with all of it, from an early age on. I saw the butcher coming by, and even though I didn’t watch the actual “act” I knew what he was there for. 

Later on I helped when the meat got packed and I helped cleaning up the mess. Death was normal, there was nothing weird about it, it was part of our survival.

One day when we visited a market in Italy I fell in love with baby rabbits. I knew we had an old cage in the barn and I begged and begged and succeeded, a few baby rabbits came home with us. They were just too cute, I was excited and helped setting up the rabbit stall. I spend the rest of the day with the rabbits and couldn’t stop talking about it  later on that night, when we all sat around the dinner table.

I had named them “Pimpel” and “Hasi”  -typical Austrian rabbit names – and my Grandmother didn’t like that at all.

“We don’t name the farm animals” she said and shook her head.

“That’s not true” I said “The dogs have names, the cats have names, some of the cows have names, we have many animals with names.”

“Only the animals we keep have names, the others don’t.”

It darned on me what she meant, the other’s where the animals we ate or sold.

“But those are rabbits, we don’t eat rabbits” I said and there was no reply.

Right after I said it I knew I was wrong. I had eaten rabbit before in one of my Grandma’s famous spaghetti dishes myself; I although remembered how much I have liked it.

“Hasi and Pimple can’t be eaten, they are my friends” I cried  and cried, nothing could calm me down. I stormed out of the house and run to the barn to be with my new friends. I was holding the rabbits and talked to them, promised them I would protect them and I would make sure they would not end up on our dinner plates.

The subject never came up again, but we had the rabbits for years. They were under my protection and lived a long and happy life, had many babies that were given away (I think).

I had no illusions about immortality. Death is a part of life and it will get us sooner or later. One can only hope not to end up in a pot. 🙂

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Finite Creatures

At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?

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25 thoughts on “The Cycle of Life~!

  1. I am afraid we were brought up on Rabbit Stew.. which my dad caught. It was that or not much else. I doubt I could eat it today. .. I guess I would be very young we always had a dead rabbit hanging on the back of the shed door. So I knew from an early age the cycle of Life and death.

    Thank you for your story share.. Hugs Sue

  2. Wonderful! Your tale reminded me of my childhood in Belgium, when our parents would serve us what they called “underground chicken.” I thought they were talking about kiwi birds. No, they were using that as code for “rabbit.” When I found out, I felt like a murderess. As if I had cannibalized Peter Rabbit. And when I look back, I keep wondering: why was it so important to our parents that we eat rabbit, that they would go to such lengths to trick us? Why not just let us eat something else?

    • I grew up on the border between Italy and Austria and eating rabbits was normal, at least for the adults. I think the wwII generation cooked with what they could find and that included bunnies. Thank you for stopping by.

  3. I got a chuckle when it dawned on you that the ones not named were eaten or sold. This reminded me of the time it dawned on my nephew. He was a little boy and one day the family caught a few trout and had them live in a bucket. The adults asked him if he wanted to clean them. He said yes, and they must have been surprised at his horror when he learned that clean meant kill and gut. Thanks (I guess) for reminding me of this sort of traumatic moment.

  4. I had baby rabbits on the farm when I was young too. When I was sent back to boarding school my father disposed of the rabbits, which were thought of as a huge pest. I’m glad you were luckier!! 🙂

  5. I eat meat. I admit I really like meat, but I have a *thing* about rabbits. Eating bunny is just wrong.

    Many years ago when we were first married, my husband came home with rabbit meat from the market. I refused to cook it and it was eventually thrown away. That was my one and only experience with rabbit meat.

  6. It brought back memories of when I had bought a rabbit from the butcher and cooked it after marinating it in red wine with mustard. I told the kids it was lamb but they took one look and did not accept my lie. They refused to eat it.
    I am sorry to say, I loved the dish.
    With apologies to Pimpel and Hasi.

    • Gosh, you sound like me. Some of my blogging friends posted beautiful pictures of geese and my comment was always “yummy, especially with red cabbage and dumplings.” In Pimples and Hasi’s names…apology accepted lol

      • I must admit though, we could never bring ourselves to eat our own chooks, especailly not after they had been providing us with so many eggs. Of course, eggs are potential chickens but it is best not to go too deep into all that.

  7. LOVED the pot comment. We sure have gone out of our way in our culture to make death foreign and unacceptable. When someone’s sick, we ship them off to a hospital. We don’t seem to want death to taint our surroundings. I’m glad there is a movement in this country — even with the insurances — to have people be comfortable in their home when the end comes. I think that’s a step in the right direction in making death a natural part of life again.

    • OH Hon, don’t get me started. I watched my SIL die of cancer last year and she had to suffer it all the way through to the end, because she lived in the wrong state. “Death with dignity” is something I fight for since a very long time. We don’t prolong life, we prolong death.

  8. I am glad the bunnies were pets with names, but as you said the meat in the store just didn’t end up there dead from the start. It is easier to think that than think of life and death. Often when people do they become vegetarians for that reason, as a cousin of mine did!

  9. Interesting. Mr. Swiss father was in the meat trade and Mr. Swiss first apprenticeship was to a Grossmetzger. He did not have a big choice, but contracted kindey problems because of the Kühlhaus so that was that. Otherwise one of my friends is a farmer’s wife with lots of cows and pigs and chickens. As you say you don’t name the animals. She has 7 children, 2 boys and 5 girls. All the girls are vegetarians, so go figure. I think the farmer is not so happy.

    • Many people today chose to be Vegetarians, it’s because of the quality of meat. Even some farmers inject animals now with growth hormones. It’s not about quality anymore, it’s about profit only. Hard to find a farm these days with grass feed animals or pastured eggs.

  10. Living in the country is like attending a sort of University , at a certain degree…
    Facing reality , since very young, helps a lot in developing one’s knowledge !
    I tend to cut out meat from my diet, too, preferring fish , eggs and goat cheese………

  11. I’ve heard similar stories about growing up on farms. Growing up in the suburbs, we don’t get that close to our meat, but I knew, logically, where it came from. I didn’t think it magically appeared in neatly wrapped packages in the supermarket. I think it really hit me when I was deboning a chicken one day as a teenager and realized… wow, this chicken leg was actually a leg, that moved a chicken, and the meat was muscle… etc… And it took me little bit to come to terms with the fact that this was a living breathing thing once and my knife was slicing through its flesh so I could eat it.

    But I did. I still eat meat.

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