Livestock Dreams

It is jeeest about the end of garden-dreaming-season and the beginning of garden-planting-season. This very evening, Sweet Husband and I were discussing putting together some new garden beds on Saturday, and I'm sure that by the time we come inside from that it will be August. Garden-planting-season just goes like that.

But as my last bit of garden-dreaming for the winter, this week I've been reading Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter.

For the record, I would never call myself a farmer--at least not without using sarcastic air quotes. Farmers have fields and cows and they can't just go to the grocery store to make up for their crop failures. I am merely a gardener and soon-to-be chicken keeper.

I'm not sure if Carpenter is quite a farmer either, but she definitely gets closer to that end of the spectrum. At the time she wrote Farm City, Carpenter lived in the ghetto (her words, not mine) in Oakland, California. Throughout the book she talks in passing about her garden--called "the squat garden" because it was on someone else's empty lot--but the real focus of the book is her livestock. Yes, I said livestock.

She keeps the standard flock of egg-laying chickens and hive of bees. But she also has meat chickens, rabbits, ducks, turkeys, and even two pigs! Needless to say, this made my imagination run wild. Raising my own Thanksgiving turkey? Making my own prosciutto and ham? That would be so awesome.

Only one small problem. While Carpenter lived in ghetto-ville Oakland--where, presumably, the police and city officials were too busy with shootings to worry about an eccentric woman and her pigs--I live in East Lawrence where, thankfully, our code enforcers aren't quite so busy. No pigs for me.

Also, no turkeys. And no extra meat chickens or ducks either. Although chickens and ducks are allowed in Lawrence, there's a limit of one "permitted fowl" per 500 square feet of lot size. With the five egg-layers we've got on the way, if my math is correct, we're already going to be at our limit.

Which leaves...rabbits.

Cute, cuddly, soft rabbits. Or, as Sweet Husband said when I brought up the idea--bunnies.

Now, I like rabbit (the food) something wonderful. (Particularly the way they make it at Teller's with the fresh pappardelle--yummy!) But, as with many things in life, I'll admit I don't like to think long and hard about how cute bunnies become the rabbit on my plate. It's not that I'm not aware of how it happens. It's not that I don't want the rabbit to be raised and killed humanely--in fact, I'm very passionate about that part. It's just that I'm happy to let someone else take care of the messy business, particularly when we're talking about a cute and cuddly fellow mammal. (Yes, that's very speciesist of me. Deal.)

But in doing a bit of research on keeping meat rabbits, I came across a ton of people who keep rabbits for their fur. Because the fur can be combed or shorn off, no bunny killing is required. The fur can then be spun--with wool added--into yarn for knitting or weaving. (Have I mentioned that I'm kind of a hardcore knitter?)

While it might have to take its place in line behind the chickens and the bees, that's definitely a do-able little dream for the future. What do you think my chances are of convincing my terrier that bunnies are not squeaky toys?

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