In Chapter "Winter animals" Thoreau writes in a very eloquent way about partridges and hares. But then he sounds a bit rough and rude. The last paragraph of the chapter starts with:

What is a country without rabbits and partridges? They are among the most simple and indigenous animal products; ancient and venerable families known to antiquity as to modern times; of the very hue and substance of Nature, nearest allied to leaves and to the ground,—and to one another; it is either winged or it is legged.

Webster's Dictionary defines an animal product as "a product made from animal material"

Does he really name hares and partridges "animal products" in today's contemporary meaning? How one should understand the phrase properly?


I understand Thoreau's phrase to mean that these are animals that are products (of the environment), rather than products made from animals.

Rabbits and partridges are both edible, and it seems likely that Thoreau would have trapped or hunted them for food while living at Walden Pond (although possibly not, as he was a some-times vegetarian).

In another part of Walden, he mentions an unnamed visitor to his cabin who is a hunter, and mentions some of the things that could be hunted in the area:

[My visitor] would say, as he went by in the morning, “How thick the pigeons are! If working every day were not my trade, I could get all the meat I should want by hunting,—pigeons, woodchucks, rabbits, partridges,—by gosh! I could get all I should want for a week in one day.”

So rabbits and partridges were literally products (things produced by) the countryside that he (or others) made use of for sustenance.

  • 3
    From honey and milk to wool and silk, from methane and manure to coral reefs and beaver ponds: across the ever-increasing gulfs separating our own times from Walden’s, we can little more than speculate whether Thoreau considered all such as these to be the produce of animals in quite the same way as we ourselves now hold them to be things produced “by” animals.
    – tchrist
    Jul 24 '19 at 17:42
  • 1
    Yes, animals produced by the countryside. Not dead meat.
    – Lambie
    Jul 24 '19 at 18:33

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