Saturday, October 11, 2008

beautiful vermin - getting to the meat of the thing

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 beautiful vermin, and edible too - click to read a hare recipethat 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."

click to go to the British Association for Shooting and Conservation website
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 click to go to the Countryside Alliance's Shooting Campaignwere 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.

click to go to Wildfowling Magazing International


  1. No, it's fearfully difficult to cut up an animal with a hide. I've tried, and it was fresh. Wants a very sharp knife.

    Hoping none of my girls develops the vegan thought mode. Having had the raising of beef cattle in the family, we've talked about it from the time they were very small, and I'm hoping they will have worked it out earlier!

    Don't know if you are aware, but the biblical reference to Man's eating meat is after the Flood. Just FYI.

    When I find it, I will "comment" you an amusing link regarding same.

  2. It was interesting to prepare the animal; I'm just a bit sad that my girls refused to have a look until the thing was in the pan, because over here there are kids who think milk originates in Tesco's etc.

    I know the reference you mean - looking forward to getting the link! - FD


    He's rather outspoken. I found it amusing.

  4. Pam, I really found the article amusing and informative, and looked round some more of the site. That fellow seems to have a really deep faith.

    Genesis 9:2 upholds the thems that things are no longer in balance: "Be the terror and the dread of all the animals on the land and all the birds of heaven, of everything that moves on the land and all the fish of the sea: they are placed in your hands." My Bible has a note on this verse: "In the beginning man was blessed and was consecrated lord of creation; he is now blessed and consecrated anew, but his rule is tranquil no longer. In this new age man will be at war with the beasts and with his fellows. The peace of Paradise will not return until 'the final days': Is 11:6

    I'll enjoy exploring even more of the site later - thanks for the link! - FD

  5. Hi Frugal

    Yup links to my chocolate hare are fine. How do you put a link inside a picture?
    With regard to rabbits, our local Tesco is surrounded by rabbits hopping about all over the place at dusk and dawn (I imagine although I never get up early enough to find out), so maybe their poulation will start diminishing as the recession deepens.
    Apologies if this appears twice - I'm not sure if it went through first time

  6. Don't know enough about the scientific principles to be sure of the accuracy, but could appreciate the approach anyway. I leave the study of foods to a friend of mine. I just figure if it's grown in good earth, and harvested soon before eating, it's bound to be better for you. God knows what He's doing. (But if I can't get what's best, I'm not going to get myself full of anxiety over it....)

  7. I appreciate the approach too. I'm not a young-earther myself, but I note that it's perfectly possible to interpret the available evidence in such a way as to justify this outlook - so science isn't as conclusive as, say, Dawkins would have it - it's all about interpretation.

  8. Hi again Dougal

    Thanks for the explanation of how to get links inside pictures- I finally got round to figuring it out and doing it !

  9. Hi Vic - I'm really glad you worked it out - I tried both on my site and yours to show you more exactly, but neither of our comment facilities would allow me to post the html. Well done! - FD


Please feel free to leave a comment - Frugal Dougal.