|Bugs Bunny copyright|
By WB, and artist.
When I was 13, my dad said it was time for me to learn of some responsibility. It was the end of spring and the sun was just coming out from behind the clouds. The days were getting longer and soon school was going to get out.
"You are going to learn some responsibly. Take on more chores and work for your allowance," he said, one morning just before I left for school.
I didn't really know where the statement was coming from. What I remember thinking was he wanted me to do more work for less pay. Any decent worker would have gone on strike but when you live at home your parents make the rules. That was a Friday and by Saturday I understood what he meant.
When I was growing up, we would go to the Saturday Sale. It was a place that resembled a Junk Yard. The difference was that they auctioned items off each weekend. Good deals could be found if you knew where to look. The auctioneer went from lot to lot, and the helper would raise things high into the air. People would yell, "Yep!" and the dollar about would increase.
It was fun watching the auction and playing with the live stock. By noon they would go out and sell: ducks, geese, chickens, and rabbits. I stood beside my dad as they called out the lot numbers and started the bids on the chickens. He leaned closer and asked, "Which rabbits do you want? You need six, four girls and two boys, to start."
I must have looked confused. "You are buying me bunnies?"
"No, I am teaching you some responsibility."
"Okay, I like the white ones, they tag says that they are all girls. I don't know about the rest,"
"Well, go find out which ones you like. Remember the males," he whispered.
We picked out 6 girls and 2 boys. They came cheap and we boxed them up for the ride home. I was excided; it was turning out to be a very interesting day.
By the time we got home they were already sitting in their own pee and they didn’t smell all that good. We built a small pen and opened the boxes one by one to let time out.
Mom came out then and just shook her head and said, "I hope you know what you are doing." She watched us build some cages out of wood and screen. It was a tiring job but the pen looked good.
It wasn't long and all the rabbit were put away. My dad itemized my bill. "What is that?" I asked.
"It is your bill so far, of the things you used, as well as the cost of the rabbits. It is far, I assure you."
"Yes, it seems far," I answered.
"What about the food?" asked my mother?
I must have looked confused and my mother looked unsurprised it was a stark difference from what her appearance was before. I was starting to think this day had been planned.
"Ah, yes. Let’s go to the feed store for some supplies."
On the way, I asked, "So, this is responsible."
"No, but you will understand by the time the summer is up."
"How am I going to pay for this?" I asked, meaning the cages, materials, and the food.
"You will need to keep them, breed them and then returned to the auction. Then you can pay me back. It is a lot of responsible raising the young ones into adults."
I was started to think that he was talking about raising children. We worked it out and by the time the day was over, I was a Rabbit herder. Now, they call the occupation something else, I know this, but that is just the name that I came up with.
The first week was fun but the second, was a consequence of the week before. The cages were a mess and my dad called me on it. I hadn't done anything the first week but feed them. Their cages were smelly and mounts of poo were forming.
He said, "Go out side and clean the cages. When you do you can come in and eat your dinner?"
It made me sick those first few weeks. The smell of pee and poo haunted me for a long time. However, I got over it and made it a routine that before dinner I would go out and tough up the cages. They weren't all that hard to keep clean as long as you just did it everyday.
One Friday my father asked me to pick the best male. Now what he was talking about wasn't looks. He was talking about how good a lover he was and there was not question of the answer. I chose and he picked the other one up and headed around the shop. I followed looked confused.
"James, this is a business and this male is useless for that business. He won’t bring enough at Auction this time of year. So we are going to eat him."
I started to complain but was surprise on how fast my father killed the rabbit and hung him up to dress him for dinner. I remember call the rabbit, 'bugs'. We cut along the legs and pulled the fir down, over the rabbit’s body. Removed the fir and laid the skin a side. It was brutal to think about even to this day.
We ate rabbit that night and the only memorable thing about that dinner was when my mother asked, "Can I have a wing."
I started to explain but my father shook his head. She caught the conversation and stated, "This isn't chicken is it."
"Nope," I smiled proudly.
After that I started looking at the rabbits as someone's dinner. I had a different mind set about the rabbits than what I had thought of them early on. My father had planned for this, he had asked me to pick two males. He understood that I was going to think of them as pets. He had put a lot of thought into how he was going to break me of that. It worked for the most part.
It was more or less timed. Soon my females started producing babies. Mom ended up helping in my little rabbit-ry. It was nice spending time with her and she loved holding the babies.
One day dad asked me to pick out a couple for dinner. It was September and we had guests coming. Each time had them for dinner he would take a little off my bill for the enterprise. The second time was easy. I picked the two that scratched me. I enjoyed them with peas and mash potatoes.
It might seem cruel to eat ones pet but they weren't my pets anymore. In some ways, I miss taking care of rabbits. Then I think about the winter months and want to forget the whole thing. But that story will have to wait.