County fairs suck people in with the promise of funnel cakes and ferris wheels, giant stuffed animals to be won in rigged games, parades, tractor pulls, and demolition derbies. But there's a powerful lobby at work, too - if it weren't so open and blatant, it'd be a great conspiracy. Head into those huge buildings - no, not the ones where people are hawking candles and or stainless steel cookingware, but the one that's full of displays attended by people who love to tell you about their passion. You'll learn a lot - but every time you take a risk and talk to a person, you run perilously close to being infected with their enthusiasm.
I've seen perfectly healthy and sane people come back from county fairs with drop-spindles and unspun wool. I've seen people come back and immediately start reorganizing the basement or garage with wood blanks, or go hiking into the bush looking for diamond willows to cut into staves and canes. Worse are the blacksmiths - once you start down that road, only being forcibly moved from your tools and forge, or life-threatening illness, can change your course.
But worse than all of those are the barns. Yes, the barns, full of proud 4H and FFA kids, who are absolutely bursting with information and persuasion about how incredibly awesome their pig or their cow is, and you should come see why this one is clearly the best ever... What snobbish defensive delight in hip urban cool could ever hold up to an ecstatic kid showing off their goat?
My housemate likes chickens even less than me (he won't eat them at all, where I eat them out of a pleasant sense of vengeance. By the scars on my hand and the memories of a chicken named Bloody Mary, I swear revenge is a dish best served steaming hot with a side of garlic bread.) Between that and the way Calmer Half is not inclined to have animals beyond dogs or cats, I figured that my attempt to grow a garden this year was about as far into suburban homesteading as we would go.
My housemate went into the barns at the county fair, and came back talking about meat rabbits. They're quiet. They're relatively easy to care for. The rinds and cores of vegetables now going into the compost pile could make a side-trip through the rabbits and come out more compost-ready, having grown meat on the way. Processing is feather-free and relatively easy. What do we think?
Months went by, and this was not forgotten. The Housemate's girl is in FFA. She needs a project. So... meat rabbits. I am not convinced a teenager will come by to care for them often enough. I am not convinced that rabbits, being hard to sex and easy to breed, won't become a lot more rabbits than planned. I am not convinced that they aren't a cute, furry gateway drug - and if we start tearing out the useless shrubbery and replacing it with edible and useful plants, or you find Calmer Half and Housemate in the back yard knocking together boxes for square foot gardening, then you'll know we're well past saving and don't want to be rescued anyway.