Saying it tastes like chicken is an insult to rabbits everywhere! Rabbit is so much better, and I’m only ever eating chicken again if I can’t get rabbit. Food snobs of the world unite!
We processed our first litter today. It really wasn’t bad and compared to the ordeal that is dressing and butchering a goat…it was a piece of cake, a walk in the park even. I took lots of pictures so let me insert my customary warning:
*********Warning: more pictures of cute animals fulfilling their life purpose with dignity and respect.**************
Can you tell I’m annoyed at what is happening to the central park horses in New York? But I digress.
This was the first rabbit of the litter. She (I got really good at telling gender, by the way) was one of the bigger ones and easy to tell apart…the others were orange-ish brownish gray. CoCo was happy to be outside in the beautiful morning air. Sorry all of you facing a real winter. I had to change her out of her jammies because she quickly got too warm.
Because we couldn’t get a Rabbit Wringer copycat made in time we went with “The Broom Stick” method. Similar in principle, the idea is to quickly disconnect the base of the skull from the C1 vertebrae. The husband guy did 5 of the buns…I was brave and did one. He would put the rabbit on the ground, lay the bar or stick right behind the ears, and simultaneously step on the other side while pulling up on the hind legs. Quick and easy dispatch.
He strung up the rabbit and started skinning. Those are two different rabbits. As soon as the first one got strung up I realized I still needed to go get ice to chill the carcasses as fast as possible. So I got pictures of the second one. Skinning is about 8 billion times easier than de-feathering a chicken by hand. I’m a fan.
For a very early birthday present, the kids and I got him a skinning knife set. It worked really well, especially the gut hook, which basically unzips the carcass from anus to rib cage in one motion. He cleaned out the guts (didn’t save any this time, but next time I’m determined to do something with the livers), then it would go into the pot of water so I could clean it up. Then into the cooler.
pajamas work clothes? Naomi and Garyn were super interested in the whole goings on.
We will be tanning the hides and Neil is going to try two methods. So half the pelts are buried in salt and the other half are in our freezer. A co-worker mentioned that her friend might want to buy them to sell at the huge renaissance faire that happens here every year. I think that’s brilliant, so don’t be surprised if you see a post next year with me in a gypsy costume selling rabbit and goat hides.
The first three went into a pot where I boiled them with onions, carrots, bay leaves, salt and pepper. After 3ish hours it was perfect. I pulled off all the meat and divided it up into bags. From the three buns, we got 3.5 pounds of straight meat. But there is probably 4 quarts of beautiful stock simmering away as I type.
Bottom line: so glad we are raising rabbits. I love it and it’s only going to get better with the aquaponics system. I’m researching a ton about feeding rabbits a diet with no pellets and the fact that aquaponics excels at bunny food is just plain awesome. The more I’ve read about the commercial meat industry, the more excited I am that we are really close to being able to only eat meat that comes from our farm…really the only thing I can’t replace is sliced lunch meat, but I’m working on that.
For anyone interested: Our Silver Fox/Harlequin crosses at 12.5 weeks averaged around 4-4.5 pounds live weight and 2-2.5 hung weight. The purebred Harlequin was much smaller as it was only 9.5 weeks and it was 3.9 pounds live and 1.9 hung. We decided to let the other two from that litter grow out a bit more.