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Sunday, December 20, 2015

December

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.

Kimberly

11 comments:

Natasha Marie L. said...

Wow, I'm so sorry about your baby goats! I'm always suspicious of crows and keep an eye out for them when we have lambs.

An At Home Daughter said...

Natasha~
I will be keeping an eye out for them now too. What nasty birds they are, and here I thought that the blue jays were bad the way they steal all the baby chicks. Its a no wonder that farmers always shoot the crows, but the vultures are protected. My guess is there is getting to be to many. I guess we will just have to keep the babies close to home from now on. I certainly did learn something new.
Kimberly

Jeannine said...

It is true that raising livestock is not for the faint hearted! We and our neighbors have lost several adult goats recently. We suspect a large cat because of the type of kill, but never had hard evidence other that a possible paw print without any claw prints. That really wasn't much to go on. I have had to lock mine up at night ever since the last one was taken in the field right by our house!

An At Home Daughter said...

Jeannine~
It certainly isn't. When I started getting involved in raising the livestock I was very sensitive. That is something that I have had to pray about, and work on desensitizing myself to things like disbudding kids and such. Only a few years ago, something like finding one of my bunnies killed by a rat would have set me off crying. As much as I don't like loosing an animal, I have come to the realization that it is part of life.
You or your neighbor can contact your state trapper to come out and identify what killed your goats, if there are pieces of them left. They might actually trap or shoot the animal for you. We had one come out to our place when we lost a goat to a coyote several years ago. He planned to shoot it for us, but we have to many neighbors, and horses around our pasture making that an unsafe option. The coyotes out here jump fences instead of digging under, so he couldn't trap it that way either. Apparently for coyotes to jump fences is unusual. He said that he had only talked to one other person that had them jumping fences. So basically there wasn't anything we could do, other than keep a look out.
Kimberly

Anonymous said...

Sorry about your recent losses! It's never easy to deal with. I lost a doe & 9 little buns this spring. A young mink went thru a one inch gap in the roof of what I thought was a critter proof hutch & simply killed them because he could. If you have the $$$/ability & etc., build a hutch or some type of enclosure. You won't regret it.

http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/ is a great site for folks who are raising rabbits, goats & etc. The forums are absolutely loaded with info.

As for butchering rabbits, do a search re: hanging them by their front feet. That's after they are dead, naturally. You'll be doing one in ten minutes or less.

Enjoy your site.

An At Home Daughter said...

Anonymous~
The rabbits are in very expensive, heavy duty parrot aviaries. Made strong enough that a hyacinth macaw cannot bite threw. Unfortunately the rats dig under. I have put chicken wire on the bottom, and hope that will keep them at bay. My mom had found that the only way to keep from loosing chicks at night was to keep a light on in their pen. I think we will be installing one in the top of the rabbits pens, but an worries about that messing them up with having light around the clock.

I will check out that website.

I will look into the butchering method you mentioned, but what takes me so long is the skinning. They are Rex and they REALLY hang onto their skin. Especially since am butchering at older age than most do.
Kimberly

Jonathan H said...

Do you have plans to do anything with the skins?
They are so soft and pliable they would be really comfortable. The wild rabbits I have skinned have skins that tear easily - how did these skins hold together?

An At Home Daughter said...

Jonathan~
Yes I plan to learn to tan the skins. That was part of the reason why I chose to raise Rex, since they have very short soft fur like velvet. Their skins did not tear at all. I did accidentally cut some small holes in a couple. Of what I read, the older they are butchered the stronger the skins are. Rex hold onto their skin very strong compared to regular furred rabbits, so it takes me a long time to work my hands all around between the skin and carcass to separate it. It sure gives your hands a workout though. For now I have 6 skins waiting in the freezer.
Kimberly

His Princess said...

So sorry about your losses, that's terrible!

Somebody above mentioned hanging them up to skin them and I completely agree. That is how I skin and it so much easier. Once you've cut the skin from the legs and bum you can just pull it off like a jacket (mind you I've never done a rex before). I really enjoy skinning too. :D

HP

An At Home Daughter said...

HP~
Yes I do hang them up by their back legs. (I did look up hanging them by their front feet like the previous commenter mentioned, but could not find anything.) It just took me a long time to figure out how to get the skin to peel off easily. It now takes me about 1/2 hour to do each rabbit. I know other people do them faster, but I like to take my time, making sure that the rabbits die a happy instant death on the grass, and doing my best to skin without damaging the hide and checking all the innards.
What I still have issues with is processing the hides. Grrr. But I'm sure I will get better with time, there is just so many different forms and a lot of confusion in the steps.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Kimberly

His Princess said...

1/2 an hour isn't bad at all! We use pellet gun too for our animals (except the bigger ones like goats) and it seems to work just fine.

The hides are another matter. My brother takes care of them but I don't think he has processed them as, what is it, leather? But he has made slippers out of them!

And I'll be staying, by the way, once I figure out how to follow your blog. XD

HP