Animal Harvest Day at Mezzacello

Animal Harvest Day at Mezzacello
James and Jim with an original mother rabbit

Today was animal harvest day at Mezzacello. This is a sensitive topic – but important. When it comes to the animals at Mezzacello the question I get asked most often are:

  1. What do you do with your animals?
  2. Do you name your animals?

The short answers are I use them in multiple ways to sustain my urban enclosed ecosystem.

  • They give me a use for wasted food.
  • They give me manure for my gardens.
  • They help me control pests and turn the soil.
  • They give me eggs and more animals.
  • And they provide a source of food.
  • And no, I do not name them.

Mezzacello is a Learning Lab

Last year I was approached by a Food and Ag Science student at OSU about keeping his rabbits for his school research project at Mezzacello. I of course said yes, as anyone who knows me knows that I am passionate about teaching and mentorship. James brought three rabbits with him.

He bred those rabbits and helped me tend to the other animals over the spring, summer, and fall of 2018. By the fall, we we had 14 rabbits. So we butchered these rabbits and three of mine. That was always the point of his research.

James’ experiment was to monitor uncontrolled populations in an enclosed environment. Rabbits acted like rabbits. At this point there were 19 rabbits at Mezzacello.

Too many to maintain and definitely not sustainable. So much money to feed and oh so much manure. We also butchered three ducks and three chickens.

Enclosed Ecosystem

Mezzacello is an enclosed ecosystem and an urban garden. These animals are not pets. That does not mean that I don’t treat them with kindness and dignity; I do.

But they are ultimately a food source. It would be disingenuous of me to say they were not. I honor and respect every life on my urban farm – even the pests. But in life and in nature everything has a place and a purpose.

My place and purpose is to maintain balance, health, and harmony. I am not always successful and it is not always fun, but it is necessary. If you are interested in the way the animals are culled, let me know in the comments.

I can assure you it is clean, efficient, and humane. But if we’re gonna be real here, and you want a healthy and sustainable ecosystem, humane butchering skills are a skill you must develop.


  • Janet L Hofmann

    Have you read Farm City? She found a very humane (and clean!) way to kill her ducks. Not sure I could do it, though.

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