Archive for May, 2009

Butchering Rabbits: Getting the Job Done

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Holly over at NorCal Cazadora asked how we went about slaughtering our rabbits for the freezer.  I thought I would do a short post on it, since it is a big part of the process of raising rabbits for food.  Many people simply cannot do this part of the job, and send their rabbits off to processors.  They end up buying back rabbit meat at a much higher price than what it would cost them to butcher themselves.  Having said that, I can certainly understand why many have this hang up.  In fact, I was not sure whether I would be able to go through with it until I finally did it.  It was much like my first time out deer hunting…I wasn’t sure I could pull that trigger until I had that first buck in my scope!

Warning:  There will be some graphic descriptions later in the post, so reader beware!

I used two basic processes for slaughtering the rabbits.  The first was the one that Holly alluded to in her comment on my last post.  This method is achieved by holding the rabbit by the hips, and then hitting the rabbit on the back of the head with a blunt object.  We used a short piece of re-bar, which seemed to work very well.  I picked this method up by reading a blog, Life as a Polyface Apprentice.  You can click that link and see some pictures of this method “in action” as I did not take any pictures the day we were butchering.  If you have never read that blog before, poke around a bit.  If you are interested in raising your own food, it is a great resource for material.

The second method also worked well, and we implemented it on a few of the bunnies.  This method is called the “broomstick method.”  Basically, you lay the rabbit down on the ground, and put a bar across the back of the neck.  With a swift motion, you pull up on the hind legs, dislocating (breaking) the neck of the rabbit.  It is an extremely quick method for dispatching the rabbits, and leaves little room for a mistake to be made.  This method was better on some of the rabbits because my hands are rather small, and the rabbits had very broad backs/hips.  This made it difficult for me to hold on to them securely, and I just didn’t feel confident with the first method being quick and humane.

I think it is very important for us to take good care of our animals, and even when it comes time to butcher they need to be handled humanely.  I don’t believe in torturing them, or making them suffer.  That is why I will use these two methods that dispatch the animals very quickly, and with as little physical pain as possible.  I will probably use the second method most often, as my rabbits are growing out nicely and have very broad backs.  This second method can be implemented without a fear of dropping the rabbit, and making a poor initial strike to render the rabbit unconscious.

Thanks for the question Holly, it gave me something good to write about while I am suffering from writer’s block!  Hopefully that will shake some cobwebs and I can get back to getting some thoughts down on the proverbial paper!

I am going to leave the rabbitry naming contest open for a few more days.  If you haven’t entered, make sure and get an entry in.  If you don’t want to do  a post on it, don’t worry…give some suggestions anyway!  I would love to have the perfect name, and give the prize away to a deserving participant!

The Fruit of Our Labors…

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

We started raising rabbits several months ago, without any of us ever having eaten rabbit meat.  We have been looking forward to trying it, and finally have had the chance.  We butchered our first 6 bunnies a little over a week ago.  That was an experience in and of itself.  I wasn’t sure how it would go, but it wasn’t very difficult.  I was afraid that maybe I would be too attached to them to butcher.  But, in the end, we ended up with 6 plump bunnies.  We gave 3 of them to friends and have now cooked up the last 3.  We had the first one barbecued in the slow cooker.  It was delicious!  Then, last Saturday, we smoked 2 of the rabbits.  They came out great!  They were very easy to do as well.  We mixed some apple juice with oil to marinate them for a while, and then put them on the grill with some lemon pepper seasoning.  They came out tender and very tasty.  We will certainly be doing that again!

The kids have all taken to the rabbit meat.  I was not surprised that they liked it, considering how much they enjoy other meats and are so curious about where their meat comes from.  They handled losing the bunnies to the freezer quite well.  I am hoping that they will continue to go with it as we grow the rabbitry.  Jacob will tell people that he knew we were going to butcher some of them, and that was the agreement when we got them in the first place.  So, they are handling losing a few at a time to the table.  I am hoping to keep the litters coming so they will always have a few out there replacing the ones that get butchered.

We also kept both the livers and kidneys to the rabbits.  The kidneys stay with the carcass, and since we cooked all the rabbits whole, we just cooked the kidneys with the rest.  I thought nothing of it, but Jacob asked if people at the kidneys.  When I told him that they did, he insisted on tasting them.  He has decided that he likes them, and has eaten most of the kidneys from the 3 rabbits that we have cooked.  It is amazing what kids will try if they are not prejudiced by others!  I tried the kidneys as well.  Being organ meat, it is quite different from other meat, but somewhat like what I would imagine for the livers, which I haven’t tried yet.

The contest to name the rabbitry is still open.  Please give us a suggestion, and enter the contest!  The prize is a nice knife, perfect for collectors or for use as a pocket knife.  Don’t need one?  Use it for a gift for someone else!

[AffomaticEbay]rabbit hunting[/AffomaticEbay]

Name Our Rabbitry Contest!

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

I have been looking for a prize to offer for our “Name Our Rabbitry” contest, and finally was able to find it!  I knew our storage area was a mess, but didn’t think it would take that long to remember where I put this!  There will be more on the prize at the end of the post…

We are getting along well with the Rabbitry, and so it is time to give it a name.  I am not a very creative person, and evidently neither are any of the other people in our house.  So, we are reaching out to our online friends to submit entries to name our rabbitry.  If we choose your entry, you will win the prize.  Before we get to the prize, lets lay down a few guidelines/rules first!

To enter, simply follow the rules below:

  1. Write a blog post on your own blog (if you have one) pointing to this post, detailing the contest, and inviting your readers to join in.  Be sure to tell everyone how cool the prize is, and maybe why you’d like to win it!
  2. Post your own entry in the comments section of this blog post.
  3. No profanity allowed, no double entendre permitted.  Any entries containing such will be deleted and obviously not considered for selection.
  4. Winner will be chosen by our family.  We do not guarantee that any selection will be chosen…we are looking for something that will be representing our “farm” and rabbits for years to come!
  5. Make sure to use a valid email address or website address when leaving a comment (in the field provided, not in the comment itself which is visible to everyone).  We need to be able to contact you if you are the winner!

We are hoping for many, many entries (so that we will have a lot to choose from)!  I appreciate all of your input, and hope you’ll help us find the perfect name.

Now for the prize.  I am putting up a Case XX Image Bird Hook Knife.  These knives are beautiful and getting harder to find.  Many of the online sites are currently sold out.  You can see it on Amazon where it is selling for about $75.  This is a brand new knife, still in the box.  It will be a great knife for the bird hunter, or any hunter that will enjoy the craftsmanship of the Case XX Image knives.  Click on the picture to the left to see a larger image, and take a look at the detail on the handle!

I am hoping that whoever submits the winning entry will enjoy this knife.  I know that I purchased several of these in different patterns and have given several as gifts.  They have been a big hit.  I am also hoping that this will encourage many to enter the contest!

So, submit your entry below, and I’ll let you know when I have chosen a winner!

[AffomaticEbay]case XX[/AffomaticEbay]

Going “Off Grid”…

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Recently, I have been getting a lot of help about rabbits off of some mailing lists that have to do with raising rabbits and homesteading.  There is a ton of good information to be found in these groups.  I have been following a lot of “signature” lines to blogs and websites and have found that many people who are raising rabbits are doing so as a part of “homesteading” (returning to a self-sustaining way of living.)  This is intriguing to me!  Most of you know that we started raising rabbits as a project for the kids, to teach responsibility and to provide good teaching opportunities for our homeschooling.  But, I have to admit, there is an appeal for the type of living that many are choosing to get back to.  I can imagine living off of the land, and raising all of our own food.  However, i would sure miss many of the “conveniences” that we have been spoiled with.  I wonder how much more productive we would be without all of those “conveniences” though?  I know that I am often more distracted by them, than aided by them!

My question to you all is:  would you like to live “off grid” even for a little while?  Would you be able to survive?  Or would you need all the modern conveniences?  Do you see any advantage to the lifestyle?  I’m sure most of the “disadvantages” would have to do with conveniences, but other than that can you think of any disadvantages?  I’m interested to see what you all come up with!

I am still trying to decide on what to use for a prize to the person who comes up with the best name for our rabbitry.  Keep thinking on a name, and I will try to get the contest put up in the next couple of days.  I know that there are a lot of creative people out there who will be a big help to me in getting a good, catchy name. Looks like we might be up to butchering this weekend, or next week sometime (if we can get some dry weather!)

I’ll leave you with a picture of my youngest with one of the newer bunnies:

Isn’t that some wild and crazy hair?  Good caption:  Crazy Hair and Hare?