In the evening we went off to my parents' house for dinner. Burgers and hot dogs on the grill, as the rain cleared just in time.
Tomorrow Tony has the day off as well. I think the plan is to get the entryway roof patched, and then he's taking the kids in to town to do school shopping.
I've been putting off butcher day for as long as possible. I've come up with every excuse I can... I'll do it after we move, so we're not in town. I'll give them time to adjust to their new home so they're not frightened. But her attitude is so much improved since we've moved. Maybe I'll post a few more ads first. I'll drop the prices and hope someone will take them. Maybe if I cross post the ad to more places. I'll start replying to ads offering to barter for rabbits.
The reality is that I measured the food consumption this week. We are currently going through over 53 cups of rabbit food every single day. Plus hay, which thankfully we have not had to pay for as the previous home-owners had the fields hayed and left three round bales - but they're starting to rot sitting out in the weather and we have no way to haul them into the bunny barn. We're going through 5 gallons of water every day, though this does include refilling the duck and goose water bucket (less than a gallon).
To put that into perspective, a 40 pound bag of feed costs about $13. One bag lasts us about three days. The rabbits are eating up $130 a month, and I've not sold any since we've moved to Staples (despite kicking up my advertising).
Something has to change. It's never a fun day. I take no joy in taking lives. It breaks my heart for those rabbits that didn't find homes. They've been well cared for. They've had happy lives. They've had time outside in the grass to play and dig and nibble fresh clover. They've been handled and loved. But in the end, I can't keep them indefinitely, and I've exhausted my ability to sell them. We will continue to breed them, because at the end of the day, meat production is why we keep rabbits. Or at least that's why we started to keep them again. This will be my first time slaughtering our own home-raised rabbits. The ones we gave names to, played with since they were born, and know the personalities of. The last time I slaughtered rabbits they had been purchased at auction as meat rabbits, so we had no emotional attachment to them. This will be a very hard day indeed.
Tomorrow Tony will go to the local grocery store and buy some ice to put in the little cooler we bought a year ago for this very purpose. I will find a place to set up an area to do what needs to be done away from the other rabbits. There's no sense in scaring the other bunnies or making them see what happens. There are seven rabbits on "the list" for tomorrow. I keep trying to make excuses on why each of them should find a reprieve. Five have excellent temperaments, and would be great pets. Three are does that could be kept back as breeding potentials. I keep coming back and asking myself - why did these ones not sell? Why did their litter-mates get picked, but not them? They're cute, they're friendly, they have individual personalities. The two bad tempered ones, I understand... but the five good ones?
Which leads me down another path. We may have a major shake-up in our rabbit barn soon. If I'm struggling this bad to take the lives of our meat rabbits because they are beautiful, because we handle them since they're babies, because each is unique... It may be time to find new homes for our breeders that throw pretty, unique babies. It may be time to only breed plain rabbits. The white ones with pink eyes, and the black ones where the entire litter looks all the same. That way I can't pick a favorite, I can't distinguish them easily, and it makes this, the last task, a little easier. Taking a life is never easy. It's never without grief, sorrow, and heartbreak. But as the saying goes - The animals on this farm only have one bad day. I take heart in knowing that they were raised with kindness, and will be killed swiftly and without fear or pain. I take their sacrifice seriously. Their lives nourish us and give us healthy, clean meat, free of antibiotics and chemicals. For this I am thankful.