Jake's Outdoors

Rabbitry Named!

June 12th, 2009 by

OK, I thought we would be able to get this done a couple of weeks ago, but we are just getting around to it.  I wonder, are you all as incredibly busy this summer as we are?  But, after combing through all of the entries, and debating the pros and cons of the ones we liked, we have finally come to an agreement on the name of the rabbitry! We are going to go with a slight variation of one of the entries, and name the rabbitry:

Brewer’s Hare Raising Adventures

Eva submitted the name, and we will be sending her the prize of the knife that I wrote about in the original post about our Naming Contest.  I hope she enjoys it!  Thank you all for the many good entries.  I believe this name will fit our endeavors for the next several years!

I have the website started, and you can take a look by clicking the link above.  I will have to get some more pictures of the shed we are using to house our rabbits, as well as some more pictures of our rabbits.  We have a barn full of little bunnies right now, so it may take a while to get everything updated.

Since we are on the topic of rabbits (again), I thought I would share an interesting occurrence from this week.  We have a new litter of bunnies, less than a week old.  These little guys are quite active, much more so than any other litter we have had so far.  These little guys seem to have an uncanny ability to escape from the nest box, even though they are far too little to be out of it.  My son went out to tend the rabbits, as he does every morning, and found that not one, but two of the little bunnies had gotten out of the next box, and proceeded to get their heads stuck in the cage wire.  I know that they make “baby saver” wire that will make sure that this does not happen, but my cages are not so equipped.  I ended up having to cut the wire to free the babies.  Go figure, the heads will go through one way, but will not come back out!  The next day, there was another little bunny with his head stuck in the wire.  I had to cut the wire again to let him out.  Now, there are 3 holes in the wire that I will have to repair!

On a much sadder note, one of the litte bunnies was small enough that he actually fell completely out of the cage.  He disappeared, and I could not find him.  Later, when the yard flooded from all of the rain, we found him in a puddle.  I guess I am going to have to build me some cages with the baby saver wire so that these type of things don’t keep happening.  This all came as a great surprise to us, since we have not had any problem with this type of thing before.  Maybe these rabbits are just more active than the other litters that we have had.  If that is the case, we will be in trouble when they get bigger and we have to tend to them…we won’t be able to catch them!

[AffomaticEbay]rabbits[/AffomaticEbay]

Butchering Rabbits: Getting the Job Done

May 28th, 2009 by

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…

May 19th, 2009 by

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!

May 13th, 2009 by

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”…

May 6th, 2009 by

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?

Turkey Season, Trout Fishing and Rabbits

April 29th, 2009 by

In my last post, over a month ago now, I said that I was going to try and get back in here an write more…but that just hasn’t happened.  I’ve been spending most of my writing time on other projects.  Its not that I have lost interest here, it is just that I have been too short on time!

I have been out for some turkey hunting the last couple of days.  Season came in here in WV on Monday.  Unfortunately, we also got a snap of really warm weather.  The turkeys talked a bit on Monday, but Tuesday, they were absolutely silent.  We covered several miles of mountain top, and never heard a single bird!  Monday, we had one turkey willing to do a bit of gobbling, but we simply could not get him to climb the hill between us, so he never even came close.  I am not sure that I will get the opportunity to get out any more, as I don’t have any land close to my house where I can hunt.  I guess there is always next year!  So far, I haven’t been able to bag a gobbler, but one of these days I suppose I will connect.  I’ve only been out a handful of times, so maybe I should take it a bit more seriously and see if I can have a bit better luck.

I also have been able to get out on the trout streams a couple of times.  The first day I made it out, it was incredibly cold and windy.  We fished for several hours without even a strike.  Later in the day, as the water warmed up a bit, I was able to finally get a few nice trout.  In fact, I was able to catch 3 trout over 15 inches out of the same lie.  Evidently, they were stacked up in there.  I know that isn’t huge for those who get to fish in the West, but for here in WV, they are nice stream trout.  The second day we were out, the weather was much nicer, with temperatures in the high 70’s.  I was able to catch a few trout, as was my fishing partner for the day.  It was nice to get away and spend the time on the water, even though we weren’t able to catch a lot of fish.

Things in the rabbitry are going pretty well.  We have another litter added to our number.  We have expanded from 5 rabbits to our current 29.  Of course, that will be fluctuating a lot as we will begin to sell and butcher.  We did sell one rabbit as a pet recently.  Since we are growing, I am now trying to come up with a name for our rabbitry.  I have started to build a website for the rabbitry, to keep everyone updated with what we have on hand, and how we are expanding, but I have no name for it!  Hopefully, you all will be able to help me out with this.  I am thinking about making a contest out of it, so start thinking about it but don’t tell me yet.  Check back in the next couple of days, when I have come up with a good prize, I will have a post about the contest.  From all suggestions we will pick the best, and the submitter will win the prize.

Catching Up…

March 18th, 2009 by

I have to admit, things have been hectic around here lately. Work has been very busy (which is a good thing), and so I haven’t had as much time to write on here as I would like to. I will give you a little “catch up” on what has been going on around here lately…

First, it appears that spring is finally hitting us full blast.  It has been toying with us for several weeks, having a warm day here and there, and then getting blasted with another winter storm.  I am hoping, at least, that the cold weather is over.  I am sure we will still have a few cold snaps, and some frosts, but hopefully the real winter weather is now gone.  Spring gets me thinking about two things:  fishing and gardening.  I am hoping to get the garden plot tilled up soon, so that it will be ready for planting.  I got so busy last fall that I never got it tilled up…we still have corn stalks standing in the front yard!  Hopefully in the next few days I will be able to clear it out, and get it ready for planting.  I have a pile of rabbit manure and compost to pile in there for fertilizer.  I guess I will be “organic” by default…cheaper than buying fertilizer if I am going to raise the rabbits anyway!

Speaking of the rabbits, I have my first litter ready to sell as pets.  They are weaned, and doing very well.  Any that do not sell as pets will eventually be food.  I know that is a hard thing for many to understand, but rabbits are very nutritious, and it is always better (at least in my mind) to see where your meat comes from.  There is no telling what is in the meat that is sold at the grocery stores!  Yes, I still buy meat, but I figure the more meat I provide (either through raising it, or through hunting) the healthier my family will be!

My second litter did not do nearly as well as my first.  My doe only had 3 kits, and 2 of them died within a few days.  The first one died on the first day.  The second one only lived about 2 or 3 days.  I knew that they looked scrawny and unhealthy, so I was not surprised.  The one surviving kit is getting huge.  I guess since he is the only one getting the milk, he can be extremely healthy.

I currently have 2 of my does bred.  I hope to have 2 more good litters in April.  I already had to expand the rabbitry, adding 3 more 30 inch cages.  This time I decided to buy cage wire, and build the cages from scratch.  They turned out pretty well, but I am now going to order supplies from Bass Equipment so that I can get more specialized parts.  I think that will make it much easier, and it will also be cheaper in the long run.  Before long, I am going to have to expand to outdoor hutches, as my shed is at about its full capacity.  I think I would enjoy having a large rabbitry, raising several hundred rabbits.  The facilities would be very expensive to get started, but you all can make donations if you want to!

Part of the reason I have not had time to write on here as much is that I have been writing on a new blog that I started for the members of the church where I preach (and for anyone else who is interested).  Basically, The Higher Rock is a blog designed to help encourage people to read their Bibles daily.  Each day a new reading is posted, and I make a few comments about the previous day’s reading.  I have been able to keep up with this project thus far, but it can be time consuming.  This, along with a couple of other writing projects, have made it hard to squeeze in more writing here!  This blog, however, is my “relaxation” blog, and I need to make some more time to write about my pastimes.

Today is my niece, Cheyenne’sbirthday.  If you remember, she was born under very difficult circumstances.  My sister in law was in the hospital for about 7 weeks before she was born.  Cheyenne had a rough start to life, spending several days in the NICU in Pittsburgh.  Today, she is doing amazingly well.  Be sure to pop over to her blog and catch up with her!  I can’t help but think of how powerful prayer is when looking at Cheyenne, and I can’t help but think of how gracious people are.  So many people helped Cheyenne and her parents through difficult times, even when they did not know them!  Many of the readers of this blog fit in that wonderful category.  Here are a couple of pictures of Cheyenne now:

 

Well, I think that is about all for now.  Hopefully, I will have more to say soon.  I know there are a lot of things going on in the world around us, much of which will affect our outdoor lifestyles.  Here it to hoping that we will have something left to share with our little ones!

A Little Bunny Meat…

March 2nd, 2009 by

A friend of mine sent me this video.  For some reason, she said she thought of me when she saw it.  I submit it now for your enjoyment!



In the “Dead Zone”

February 25th, 2009 by

It is that time of year here in WV. There just isn’t a lot of outdoor activities to take advantage of. The hunting seasons are over, and the fishing hasn’t really picked up yet. It is kind of like the professional sports season. There is a dead zone between the end of Football and the beginning of Baseball. I know there is Hockey and Basketball, but I don’t really pay attention to them. I am hoping to be able and get some fishing done sometime in the next few weeks.

The state actually starts stocking trout in January, and there is no closed season for trout in WV.  However, the trout streams are in the mountains, and the mountains get a lot of snow.  The state also does not clear many of the mountain roads, so the rivers are not very accessible.  We have had several days that the temperatures have raised, but I’m sure the ice pack is still present up in the mountains.

I only got out one time last year, as the gas prices were ridiculously high.  I am hoping that travel will be a bit more reasonable this spring.  I really want to break out the fly rod and see if I can catch anything.  It has been 2 years since I had the fly rod out!

I would like to get some further comments based off of my last post.  There were a couple of folks who voiced their disagreement with catch and release fishing, as well as the hunting that is done with tranquilizers.  So, my question is this:  do you think that catch and release fishing is the same as I described in the last post, or is there a difference?  Would you (or do you) practice catch and release fishing, and yet oppose the hunting counterpart?  I am interested to see the reasoning behind those who practice C&R fishing but oppose the hunting tactic.  By the way, as I mentioned before, I do practice C&R fishing some times.  Perhaps I’ll share my thoughts a bit later!

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Real Hunting?

February 16th, 2009 by

One of the first posts that I ever did here on Jake’s Outdoors was about the World Hunt Organization. Back in 2006, this company started a “catch and release” deer hunting campaign. They were trying to start a tournament like environment, comparing it to the Bass Pro fishing type circuits. The idea was that the deer would be darted with tranquilizers instead of being shot with a bow or gun.

At that time, there was a huge uproar over this concept.  In fact, it was so problematic that outdoorsmen were calling for sponsors to withdraw their support of anything that had to do with the WHO.  These anti catch and release campaigns were quite successful, causing most if not all of the sponsors to withdraw their support of the project.  Of course, with no financial support, the whole project crashed.

I thought that the whole idea of “catch and release” hunting was terrible.  I was very happy to see the whole thing crash and burn.  So, imagine my surprise as I was watching the Outdoor Channel (one of my favorite channels, of course) last night only to see a relatively new show showcasing a hunt that was very similar to this idea from 2006.  Only now, it was called a “green hunt”.  She Safari’s Beyond the Lodge featured a White Rhino hunt that was a dart hunt, rather than a true hunt.  The justification was that the huntress would be followed by a veterinary crew, who would collect some scientific data off of the rhino, before waking it up and sending it on its way.

Quite frankly, I do not see any difference in this than the original idea 3 years ago.  This makes it a sport to dart animals for fun.  I believe that the scientific data is important, but if we are truly going to be conservationists, I think that we need to distinguish between the conservation efforts and our sport of hunting.  I realize that there is an element of conservation in our hunting.  However, when we are going to fight for animals, especially those who are truly endangered, we need to make sure that people see us as being a true element of the conservation.  Think about it.  Making the darting and scientific collection of data a sport makes it appear that there is nothing more important to us than getting an animal on the ground.  Perhaps that is true for some, but I hope for the bulk of us hunting is much deeper than that.

Maybe I am wrong on this.  But, how could this cause such outrage 3 years ago, and be virtually overlooked now?  Are the subtle differences enough to get a pass on it this time around?  Is doing it in Africa on endangered animals more acceptable than doing it in the US on the common white tailed deer?

One of the things that aggravated me about the show was that they made a point of saying that they were going to do it in the most difficult, and potentially dangerous way.  They were going to put the dart on the end of an arrow and attempt to shoot the rhino from close range.  So, what was the point here?  Scientific data collection?  Then why not use the typical dart gun?  Sport?  Then why endanger both the hunting party, the medical crew and the rhino?  This was all about exciting TV (which is understandable).   However, I’m not sure what this type of “green hunt” does for the image of hunting in general.

I must admit, as I watched the show last night, I had a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I see this as an opportunity for anti-hunters to jump on those of us who are ethical hunters.  After all, if they can hunt like this in Africa, why not here?  Why not hunt like this all of the time?  Just dart an animal, take a few pics, and send the animal on its happy way.

I’m anxious to hear your input on this subject.  I have a feeling there may be some disagreement here.  That is ok.  If I’m being too harsh, feel free to let me know.  If I’m missing something here, as to why this is so drastically different than the original WHO proposals, show me why.  Are you for this type of “green hunt” or not?