My homesteading life rarely leads into the kitchen. Pan does most of the cooking and for good reason. She is amazing and is able to blend homemade with 'good-for-you' with delicious. Me? I am quite astute at mixing grill with darkened meat with edible.
I must confess though that we are pretty well stuck in either "chicken mode" or "beef mode" with a bit of pork every so often. We rarely have fish as it is so hard to get fresh when you live in middle Georgia. Good deer meat is rare as well and we are pretty picky about who we accept it from since - it has been my experience - the taste is all in the cleaning and preparation. And game? Well, game is just beyond us. Until recently.
While strolling along the Interwebs one rainy Saturday I came across a recipe for some hearty, rabbit stew. "Rabbit stew," I asked myself? I had honestly thought that existed only in Elmer Fudd cartoons. But here was an easy to follow, delicious looking recipe for such. I decided we should try it.
According to my family, rabbit had been a staple of my grandfather's diet and so I figured I must have some predetermined qualities that would allow me to catch one of these oft-forgotten critters. I set about researching how to make a rabbit trap. I had seen rabbit droppings and foot prints in the orange clay so I knew they were prevalent in my area.
I decided on a simple, wooden rabbit trap perfectly laid out by Dwayne's This and That.
Within a half hour I was ready to set it out and within a day or two, I figured, would be reading up on how to clean and prepare the rabbit I had caught.
Pan and I took the trap out in one of our back fields being careful not to let too much of our scent permeate the box. Once in position we put in the bait; peanut butter, carrots and lettuce. We then set the door and sprayed some apple cider around the perimeter. I had such a good feeling about this endeavor.
Week 1 – Nothing. I find all sorts of things to blame it one - weather, trap building, smart rabbits.
Week 2 – Nothing. Discouragement begins to set in and I question my ability to actually homested.
Week 3 – SUCCESS!
Last night, Pan and I went down to the trap to see it had been tripped. The box was heavy, and because we heard no noise, we figured the rabbit had expired. I knew this was not ideal and figured this would be a lost cause.
When we arrived up to the house I lifted the door up a bit so Pan could take a picture of what was inside. As the flash went off I watched her mouth utter the words, "It's hairy.....it's a possum....ewwwwww....a possum!" I quickly shut the door.
The rest is fairly uneventful. We took the box back down and dumped the possum...well, the two possums (yes, two had found their way into our trap)....back where they came from. We took the trap up to the shop to be reconstructed and aired out in the hopes of trying again. But even with all this rabbit adventure, I began to think to myself how I might have felt if I was a true homesteader without a job to support us. I have heard of possum stew and I can see how if you live off the land and all you catch is a possum, you do what you have to. But I was still a bit discouraged the rest of the night and wondered how I would have done things differently.
In the meantime, I look at my trap and my bait and my stew recipe, hoping that one day I will catch more than a case of the rabbit stew blues!