Thursday, August 7, 2008

Urban Homesteading

Being unable to eat corn and soy, meat is an inevitable part of my diet. I was vegetarian for several years before being diagnosed with crohn's disease, purely on the basis of my objections to factory farming. I have little difficulty with the concept of killing animals for food. However I feel very strongly that animals should have a good life and avoid unnecessary suffering. I also feel that it is better to look your food in the face and connect with meat--It makes me feel far more guilty to look at meat in a Styrofoam tray than to think of raising it and eating it myself. My goal in the next years is to shift entirely to eating meat grown either by me or people I have met personally. My household recently purchased a side of beef--we met the steer and watched the slaughter, and although a little sad, it was an experience I am determined to repeat the next time I need to buy a large amount of meat.
Raising meat birds is not feasible in the city, as we can't have a rooster and any chicks we purchased would inevitably from factory farms, and any purchased from local farms would not be cost effective. The answer was rabbits--they share a coop with the chickens and are elevated, and thus take no surface area from the chicken coop, and are very feed efficient. And, well, they breed like rabbits. A breeding doe produces about 1000% of her body weight in meat per year, somewhere around 35-40 fryers of 3lbs dressed weight. Rabbit feed contains no corn, and is mostly grain waste products. All in all, efficient enough to overlook having to kill them, even with their cuteness and calm dispositions. My two partners and I have invested in cages and rabbits, and this weekend are going to assemble an automatic watering system (as we are all getting tired of changing bottles three times a day).

We settled on Champagne D'argents as our primary breed--We have two sibling does and an unrelated buck (Named Atlas). They are an old french breed (around 400 years old) raised for meat and their silver pelts. They are born jet black and turn silver as they age. We also have a Californian doe, who is extremely hardy and will produce fantastic hybrids. She, however, is considerably meaner than the Champagnes, who my roommate claims have the temperament of furry bricks. Behold their cuteness! And help me name these does. We're going for mythological themes. And please note that we will not be eating these ones--they will be pets--their young will be for breeding stock, pets and meat.