Last spring, we decided to find some meat rabbits to add to our menu and did some online research to find out which breeds would offer us the best meat. We also thought we might want to use some for hides and expand our chicken/egg homestead.
There is so much information out there that we went round and round trying to figure out which breed we would choose. My handy-husband designed a four-room hutch behind the chicken coop, and we opted for California breed. Our first purchase was four cute California rabbits but we didn’t know how to sex them, so back to the computer we go.
When we finally figured out we had two males and two females, we separated them at maturity and waited until they could safely breed. Although our first attempt was a disaster due to a surprise birth on a cold December day, we soon opted for putting the pregnant females in the barn to avoid losing babies to the weather.
Baby bunnies are so cute and the thought of harvesting them for meat did not set well at first. We sold the first healthy batch on Craigslist and waited for our bravery to set in. We had several calls the first day, and I was secretly relieved that they wouldn’t end up on our dinner table. I brought a few in to work with me for delivery in the city and kept the pet porter under my desk. I thought I could keep my secret until a co-worker came in and saw them and asked if she could hold it. Soon after, I had people from various departments coming for some bunny therapy.
We sold the first batch to photographers, teachers, to parents with small children, and to a 4-H youth who wanted to raise them for competition. What a relief it was not to have to butcher them! It went against our goal as homesteaders, but it took some time to get over the brutality of it.
This spring, we raised the first batch of six and made rabbit stew, rabbit sausage, and ground rabbit meat to store in our freezer. I decided to try our first batch of rabbit sausage in our favorite homemade dish … Pizza.
It just so happened that my 5-year-old grandson wasn’t a fan of my pizza because it wasn’t round. He said it wasn’t real pizza and refused it until he realized that was all we had for dinner, so he forced down one square slice. He quickly got over it once I announced that he could go collect eggs – he really loved visiting the coop and collecting and counting the eggs. Later, he told me he wanted to be a farmer when he got big and “have everything” like we did. Kids are funny.
We did decide that we would have to keep one rabbit as a pet (for my grandson, of course). He was the only one born without spots like his mom or dad – just a velvety gray color.
We are on our fifth batch of baby bunnies and they are still very, very cute, but also very delicious. We will continue to expand our 5-acre homestead to include other varieties of chickens, bunnies, and maybe some cute calves soon.