Did you know, Coeur d’Alene is french and means Heart of an Awl. The tribes in that area were well known amongst French fur traders as sharp businessmen, ‘sharp-hearted’ or ‘shrewd’. My family is from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We certainly have a French fur trader in our ancestry somewhere. We definitely have tribal business sense in our blood.
When researching Meat Rabbit breeds to raise Michelle came across the Champagne d’Argent. Or the “Silver of Champagne”. Michelle was instantly in love. A heritage breed that has been recognized since the 1600’s originating in the Champagne region of France. Some say it was raised by monks much earlier in history than its recognition can reveal. One of my favorite drinks hale from this region of France as well. As Michelle dived into more research she learned that the d’Argent had a finer bone structure than most breeds and had luxurious fly-back, two toned ‘silver’ pelt and a body type making it an ideal dual meat and fur breed.
The name of the Rabbitry, Coeur d’Argent (Silver Heart) refers to both the rabbits raised and to the history of the tribes of Eastern Washington as well as the web of Michelle’s own family ancestry.
Champagne d’Argents are considered as a heritage breed animal. They lost popularity as the New Zealand (Officially Recognized in 1917) and the California (Officially Recognized in 1939) rabbits became more popular due to their meat to feed ratio, how quickly a animal puts weight on. Both breeds also have a secondary market in laboratory testing of which the d’Argent is not sought after for that industry.
The Champagne d’Argent was listed on The Livestock Conservancy lists in their past and has since recovered. Although there is only one currently active breeder listed in the PNW through many breed association websites.
As care takers of biodiversity it is in our hands to maintain and celebrate the diversity found in the lives we eat and use. Be that Rabbits or Broccoli. If we don’t use them, tend to them, we may very well loose them. These relationship has been documented and observed in Sweet Grass, Oregon White Oak and Camas Root plants as well as countless other Livestock breeds.