Monday, February 11, 2013
After 2 weeks of agonizing over what to do I finally made a decision that we would do it (the night before I had a moment of madness and thought maybe I'd just let them all go free into the pasture...seriously, I thought about it) I also contemplated that if I didn't have it in me to do it, we'd just get out of rabbits all together. But, last weekend I finally got up the courage to not feed them for the required 24 hours, then it was time...Ready or Not! Thankfully my husband (who has as soft a heart as me with regard to animals) took the job seriously to assist me in the first part. He used a gun for step one and a chisel and mallet for step two removing the head, and from that point on I did all the rest. All of this was done with respect and reverence for each animal and the sacrifice they were making for us, may they be a blessing to us and may we show respect for them by using every part, including the fur.
This was not one of the high points on this farm, but was a necessary lesson for me to know and understand the cost to feed and raise rabbits, you will have an abundance of them as a breeder. The first one was hard on me, then I was committed and we did two batches of 4. Once I got into the intricacy of cutting and processing them I went into a mode that is almost trance-like it is such detail work. I saved the heart, kidneys, and liver, and of course the furs. There was a considerable amount of meat on each one and I couldn't believe how heavy they were to lift them up and string them onto the limb for skinning. Rabbits are considered the easiest animal on a farm to process. I also did extensive research on curing the furs, the health and nutritional value of the meat, and what I could make with the furs once cured. These are all different topics I will be writing more on.
Now that I have a freezer full of delicious rabbit meat I am going to have fun trying some new recipes, the day after it all I made an absolutely delicious rabbit stew that lasted us several meals (Tessa wouldn't eat it) she has no intention of eating rabbit, but the rest of us are all thrilled to have some good fresh meat. I baked the rabbit just like a chicken then proceeded with deboning and making the stock (boil the bones and carcass along with carrots, onions, and celery) for approximately 4 to 5 hours, this is where I included the heart, kidneys, and liver, I figured that would be a good way to get the nutrition of them into the soup. Once I strained the stock, I added more carrots, onions, celery and potatoes from the garden. I added the deboned meat 20 minutes before it was finished.
The next meal I'm planning at the request of Jarin and Kaley is a rabbit pot pie. The health benefits of rabbit are amazing, there is a high ratio of calcium and phosphorous, along with vitamins and minerals. It is one of the highest protein meats with the lowest fat, it's easily digested and can be used just like chicken. In many parts of the world rabbit is a gourmet meal, and served at the finest restaurants.
The method I used to cure the furs is the sulfuric acid method. Sulfuric acid is found in battery acid which is diluted sulfuric acid, it's easy to find and inexpensive. It takes away some of the chore of fleshing the hides and it sounds easier than brain tanning. I still have another week of it sitting in the tanning solution so we'll see how they turn out. Here's a great tutorial and how I'm tanning the 8 furs that I have, Tanning rabbit furs
What will I make with the furs? I'm planning to make myself a hat first to experiment, then I want to make mittens, a throw pillow, and maybe even a vest. Looking online I found many cool things to make.