Earlier this week, Professor Calculus informed me that he'd been given a rabbit and a hare. Since he didn't have the facilities to store them, he asked me to do so, and told me to keep the hare. So I put them in the freezer, then informed Minima and Minora.
Minima wasn't bothered; but from Minora's reaction, you'd think that I'd killed Maxima and offered them her in sandwiches. Like many adolescents, she knows that she opposes something with all her heart, but she's not quite worked out what it is yet, so the issue of killing animals was as good a cause as anything to get overheated about.
I tried to tell her that wild Leporidae were vermin, but she wasn't having any of it. She replied that they were beautiful, and I agreed: they're beautiful vermin. So I asked her what she had against the farmers whose crops rabbits etc ate, at which she had a fit of procrastination and went to her room to put some thump-thump-thump music on.
Anyway, I took the rabbit up to Calculus' place after a night's thawing: he showed me how to skin and "paunch" the beast, ie take its guts out. His dog Granum had a feast, and I wondered, am I going to be able to do that with the hare?
At home, I took the hare out of its plastic bag. Its pelt was smooth, and reminded me of the fur of our cat, Magus. It had been shot in the head, which had a couple of drops of blood on it. Even so, it was a handsome beast, and I raised the knife with trepidation.
I hacked its legs off first, above the elbows. Then I cut down the belly with Maxima's sharpest knife, pausing to wipe fur off the cutting edge. Paunching it wasn't as hard as I thought: I'd been worried about piercing the gut, but thankfully this never happened. I was surprised by the amount of force that was required to remove the pelt and flesh from the corpse. So had Professor Calculus with the rabbit - maybe they're not supposed to be frozen.
Even despite the ongoing supermarket price war, I've heard talk of hares and rabbits becoming more popular as a form of nourishment because they exist, free range, up and down the countryside. Their killing is a service not only to landowners, but often also to the cereal-eating public (ie just about everybody). And it's perfectly possible to kill them cleanly; the British Association for Shooting and Conservation has an information page on shooting rabbits which includes information on choosing an airgun and ammunition for "A well-placed shot [to] result in a clean, humane kill", and advises "You should never attempt to shoot a rabbit that’s more than 35 metres away, and only then with a headshot that will kill him cleanly."
I looked up cooking times in my Gran's old cookbook then added some just to be safe - penicillin wasn't discovered until eight years after the book was published, but now antibiotics are all over the damn place, including in the water supply that's used for irrigation. The hare meat was tender and not particularly strong-tasting, and after Maxima gotten over me disembowelling the thing in her kitchen she chopped and threw in a couple of onions and tatties. She joined me in eating some of the meat, as did Minima, but Minora remained green around the gills and sat huffily watching an anime video.
At a time when the prevailing financial conditions are pushing people away from money and back to bartering (including beer for game), it looks like eating game is going to become more mainstream than I've ever seen it (although the animals I saw most often in Glasgow were pigeons, rats and foxes). Which brings up the issue of how taxation for goods and services exchanged in a non-monetary system is going to be calculated and what the penalties will be for non-payment. And, although Labour's on-off manifesto commitment to shooting is currently "on", will any of the monies raised by bartering involving game be used to appease those anti-shoot campaigners who still form a significant minority within that party?
But all that's for another day. I'm famished now - I think I'll go and finish off the hare.