Sunday, September 11, 2011

First taste of rabbit

WARNING: I shouldn't have to do this, but if you're grossed out by the thought of killing rabbits for food, you should probably skip this post.

As you know, we're growing our own rabbits for their meat. Despite some rookie mistakes along the way, we were able to raise a few rabbits from babies, and now we figured it was time to eat one and see if it's all worth it.

To catch you up, we bought four rabbits from a local breeder in March: two male and two female. Or so we thought. After some unsuccessful breeding attempts with one pair, I discovered that one of the females is actually a male, so that gave us three males and one female.

The female had a litter, but most of the litter was killed by predators. The female eventually died from something unknown, but one of her babies survived. Luckily, that baby is female, although she has some limb damage from that predator attack.

So here we are, about six months later, and we're back to three males and one female. But since we don't need three males, we took this opportunity to try our hand at culling one for the dinner table.

I picked the one that has caused me the most trouble. He's thinner than the other two, and he likes to push all of his food onto the ground. Mighty nice of him to volunteer to be eaten first, huh?

So this morning I took him out of the cage, skinned and butchered him, and we grilled him up for lunch. I was actually surprised at how much meat there was, as it's fed us both for lunch and dinner, with a bit left over for another meal (with rice and corn). It was my first taste of rabbit, and as cliche as it might sound, it tastes a whole lot like chicken.

Now you might be scratching your head as to why that last paragraph seems so harmless and simple. There must be more to your first time processing a rabbit, right Shawn?! I'm getting to that part.

Since I have no shame, and I consider this blog a bit of a testimonial as to why you should be learning from my silly mistakes, I'll go ahead and tell you my mistakes. No really, it's for your own good.

First off, every manual I've read and YouTube video I've watched about how to actually kill the rabbit didn't prepare me for the fact that it's not really that easy. First off, when I took him out of the cage, holding him upside down by his back legs, he was fine at first, but then started thrashing around, subsequently snapping one of his legs. This sent him into a fit of screeches that I was sure would get the cops called on us, so I hurried up and grabbed his head, pushed down and pulled back, just as I'd seen done in demonstrations. Well, that didn't quite work as planned. So I resorted to something I saw done on one YouTube video where the rabbit's head was put under a steel bar and the body was pulled upwards. That worked.

I won't even get into the rookie mistakes I made killing my first chickens a few years ago... maybe another day. But this is how we learn, right?

Anyway, from here, the rest wasn't too bad. I had some troubles finding the right spots to cut to pull the skin down, and the string I tied the rabbit up with had snapped at one point, but other than that, the rest went smoothly. Not the cleanest cuts of meat, but that will come with practice, too.

I fed the liver and heart to the dog (I'll save those for me on future rabbits), and tossed out everything else. One day I'd like to get into tanning the hides, but not on my first one.

So that was quite an adventure. Sarah says she wasn't as grossed out as she thought she'd be (until I started scooping the guts out with my hands), but I'm proud of her for not running into the house screaming.

This Wednesday is our 4th attempt at a house closing, so wish us luck. No , seriously, this is getting ridiculous. But we're hopeful that this is the one. We'll keep you posted!

In the meantime, we pack, clean the house, tackle the last bits of yard work, and finish off the rest of that rabbit.


  1. It is not the gross factor that bothered me the first time I learned to clean an animal... it was just the fear of making a mistake and making the process more painful for the animal than it needed to be. Like you said though we all learn from our mistakes. Few things in this world are more disturbing than the sound of a rabbit when it knows its time is up.

  2. I'm the exact same way. I hate that I messed it up and the animal suffered for a few minutes, but hopefully I never make that mistake again.

  3. With winter coming up I would suggest trying your hand at a stew. I prefer rabbit in a stew more than any other way and the meat really goes a long way.