Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Hopper Soup

I finally got around to cooking some rabbit. I decided to make soup in the crock pot. It wasn't any special recipe, I just used what we had on hand. It turned out very good, and tasted just like chicken.

Here is how how I made it.

1 rabbit cut into large piece (4 legs and the back cut into 3 pieces)
1 medium onion, diced
Approx. 5 stalks celery, chopped
Approx. 8 smallish carrots, chopped
2 beets, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
water to cover
salt to taste
2 bay leaves
a few dashes dried thyme
a few dashes dried parsley

Reserve for after soup is cooked:
cooked rice

I tossed all the ingredients into the crock pot except the rice. I actually started this in the evening, so I turned it down to warm before going to bed and then back up during the day. picked all the bones out of the meat, and returned the meat to the pot. Then put some of the cooked rice into each bowl before adding the soup. I didn't put the rice into the main pot of soup, because I didn't want the leftovers to turn into a gluppy mess. The broth turned out very rich and tasty. There ended up being even more meat than I expected and the bones were very fine. I was careful to pick all the bones out, but still managed to miss some. We ate carefully. But anytime my mom makes chicken soup, we usually end up with some bones in that too.


Sunday, December 20, 2015


I never got around to taking pictures of all the baby goats that were born this Fall. Then when they were about 3 weeks - a month old I walked out the door and saw something black out in the back of the neighbors pasture. I walked across the road and all the way out to the back field to discover vultures eating one of the baby goats. My favorite one. He was sooooo sweet and easy going. He would often sleep out in the field while the other goats would come up for hay or water, and I would walk out and bring him up. He would look at me like "What? I had a nice, cozy, warm spot here in the grass." I couldn't tell anything from his body what had happened. The head had been eaten and the neck was gone, but the body hadn't been touched. I would have thought that a coyote or fox would have gotten him from the back end leaving teeth marks, and would have eaten him. I talked to my mom about the vultures. Could they have killed him? She said they only eat dead animals. Well what are they supposed to eat when nothing dies? They still have to eat. We were thinking that maybe there had been something wrong with him and we just took him for a really relaxed goat. Maybe he just died out in the field and the vultures were cleaning him up. 

I think it was two days later that I looked out at the goats in the morning when I took the dogs out and I could see Daisy's twins nursing on her. I went in and took a shower. Then my mom told me she could only see 3 baby goats across the road. There should be 5! Again I walked out to the back of the field to find vultures eating Daisy's daughter. I had just seen her earlier. One of the other goat kids was missing. I went home and got my mom. We walked all over till we found a leg from the missing goat kid. That's all we found from it. We looked over Daisy's dead daughter. There were marks on the neck leading us to believe that a coyote got her. But if so, why did it leave her body?

So down to three goat kids, we penned all the goats up in the front pasture. They are right by the neighbors house. We haven't lost any since. What ever it was Daisy's son barely escaped it. He was looking rather sad after his sister was killed, so I caught him and looked him over. His thick fur was hiding scabs down his back. When I was working on the fence to lock them in the front, I talked to the guy that raises livestock on the neighbors property next door. He said they had been loosing animals. He thought it was a coyote, but hadn't seen it. His dad actually waited out there at night to try and get it, but never saw anything.  He said it even took a 2 month old goat kid or lamb I can't remember which. 

While writing this post I decided to do a quick google search for "vultures kill baby goat". As it turns out, vultures DO kill baby goats and lambs and whatever small "smallish" animals they can find when there aren't dead animals laying around for them to eat. My mom had let the goats loose a few days ago in the middle of the day, during what we figure is the safest time to do a little grazing. She said that as soon as the goats got out to the back pasture a swarm of crows flew up and acted like they were attacking our goats. Apparently crows will kill baby goats too according to what I read online. So what are we supposed to do? Put a net over the whole field... They have Snooki the cow over there with them and she has always done a super job of keeping them safe up until this point. She had stopped grazing with them, laying around lazy since the grass was dying back. During the Summer my mom had seen someones dog get out there with the goats and Snooki took off after that dog till it escaped to its owner on the safe side of the fence. I guess she was going to stomp it. Hopefully that was a lesson learned by the owner of the dog!

The last 2 litters of bunnies that were born reached 4 weeks old. They were sooo cute. They made a little tunnel between their pens (they were in neighboring pens). They would run back and forth playing and climbing on each others mothers and aunty. Then the stupid rats came back and got 2 bunnies in their hole. It was too small for their mothers to get into, so I think that's how the rats were able to get the babies without being attacked by the mothers. It of course had to kill our only chocolate bunny. So all the holes are closed off now. We have since had several litters of kits born. 5 live litters actually. That are doing quite well. One of my does I was waiting to have her first litter and I was soooo excited waiting in anticipation for how many she would have. She is my biggest doe. The day came and she had one great big kit. I was out there when she had it. Unfortunately it was dead. 4-5 days later I went out to check everyone in the morning and there laying in the front of her pen was a giant, kinda-furry, chewed up dead kit. She's doing perfectly fine. I don't know how that came out of her. She needs to be rebred. Hopefully things will go better for her the next time around, and she will have a normal size litter. Another doe I named Sparrow had 9 kits! She is one of the smallest does. I couldn't believe it when I started counting her babies and I kept pulling more and more babies out of the nest as I counted. She is an excellent mother, but just didn't have enough milk for all those kits. So it was Dottie to the rescue! Sweet Dottie. It was her first time having babies and she had 3 toads (What you've never heard of a rabbit giving birth to toads before?). After the 2 smallest of Sparrows litter started shriveling up I tried catching Dottie to try nursing them on her. She ran into her nest when I tried catching her, so I just gently tossed the kits in underneath her (her nest is in the back of a dog house). All the babies nursed, and when she came out I checked them and they had nice round bellies. There is a major size difference and color difference between her own children and the fosters, but Dottie doesn't care. She's as good as gold.
Our total of kits in the nest right now is 30 from 5 does.

I butchered 5 more rabbits (all bucks).

I had watched a couple video's on Youtube from the Salatins farm demonstrating rabbit butchering, and it was extremely helpful. Saved me a lot of time. I set up a pan of warm water to rinse my hands and knife off in while working, with a couple old towels next to it. Set my knives next to that with the pruners to clip off feet. I did all the butchering, but when I finished each one, I brought it in for my mom to rinse and cut up and bag, since I had a limited amount of daylight. I started at noon and was done at 5 P.M. The last one I did in 30 minutes. After I butchered each rabbit I would dump my pan of water to the avocado tree and refill it with more warm water, before starting on the next. Not only did this help keep my hand clean, but also warm, since the weather was cold. When I came in my mom said "They are so much easier to cut up than chickens!" I said "Yah, and their gut don't stink anything near as bad as poultry!." As far as butchering goes I think we are pretty well sold on rabbits. Now we need to eat them. We have 6 waiting in the freezer, but my dad is freaked out at the thought of eating a cute bunny. He pulls up weeds from around the yard to feed to the rabbits all the time, and lets it be known that they are to cute to eat. But he did come home from work recently with a web address for a rabbit recipe he heard on the radio. He gave me a paper with the address to look it up. He wrote that it was for "blazed rabbit in tears" I went to the website and it was for "braised rabbit with pears" . Oh did my mom and I laugh! So we might have to make him some blazed rabbit in tears!

I think the rabbits were 17 weeks when I butchered them. Most people butcher younger, but the way I see it is the bigger you let them grow, the more meat you are getting from each life. Plus the older they are the nicer the pelts. I didn't weigh them before butchering, but I did after. The smallest rabbit weighed about 2 1/2 lbs. The largest was about 3 1/3 lbs., and all the others were right around 3 lbs. So we were happy with the turn out. I let the rabbits eat as much as they want and found that they have a huge amount of fat on them. Especially compared to the pictures of peoples butchered rabbits I have seen online. Although they also had a lot more meat than the size that a lot of people butcher at. There is something called "rabbit starvation". I learned about this before I ever decided to get the rabbits. Its because rabbits tend to be so lean that, if its a persons only source of protein that they can actually starve to death from lack of fat in their diet. This is why it is good to also have pigs, and cook the rabbit with lard. For this reason I decided to leave as much of the fat as possible on each rabbit this time. I know I said in the last post that I removed the fat from that rabbit (I have heard its a little bitter), but that rabbit had an enormous amount on its back. I have since seen that some people actually render the fat from their rabbits. So I guess it depends on each persons taste.
So hopefully next time I post, I'll actually have a couple good rabbit recipes.