Yesterday was butchering day at Bramblewood Acres.
It’s never a pleasant task to kill an animal, but it puts humanely raised, clean meat into our freezer and we know exactly how those animals were raised and how they lived.
And we know how they died.
(No photos with this post out of consideration for those who are squeamish.)
We had 11 rabbits to send to freezer camp and butchered and prepared 7 of them. The last four got a reprieve until next weekend because we simply ran out of time. My husband and I have the whole process down to an art. He dispatches them (a .22 to the back of the head, quick and easy.) We tried other methods in the past and have found the .22 the quickest way possible for us and the rabbits never see it coming.
I skin them. My husband doesn’t have the patience to take off the skins with as little damage as possible to the hide and I like to save them as intact as practical. We have about 20 skins in the freezer waiting for tanning and curing. My daughter wants a rabbit skin blanket, so, we are saving them for that project and future skins will either be sold or saved for other projects. The hides are beautiful. Thick, lush fur in an amazing variety of colors. The winter hides are the best.
By the time I’m done skinning (I’m getting faster!), he has prepared a second rabbit for skinning and gets to work cleaning the one I just skinned while I skin the next. Once he’s done with one, into the salted ice water it goes to wait for final preparation.
And so it goes until we are done.
In the past we have either frozen the entire rabbit after cutting it up into quarters or put them all into a pot and cooked down for canning.
I have a confession: I hate bones. I cannot stand bones in my meat (any variety!) and it sets my stomach on edge if my teeth touch a bone while eating. I have to pick all the meat off a bone before I can eat it. Don’t ask why, I don’t know, but, there it is.
This time, we de-boned and filleted the hind hoppers and back and froze them. It took quite a bit more time than just cutting them up and freezing, but I think it will be worth the effort come time to cook.
The remainder of the rabbit (front legs, ribs, the bones from the back and hind hoppers after filleting which still had a bit of meat left on them) went into the stew pot where I cooked it just enough to fall off the bones then picked the meat off in chunks and froze it.
Out of 7 rabbits, we ended up with enough meat for just over 8 meals. Those were some BIG rabbits and there was zero waste (except for the bones).
Tonight some of that rabbit will become rabbit burritos. Yum! It has a similar texture to chicken, but a very different flavor. It’s a milder, sweeter, more tender meat than chicken and anything you can do with chicken, you can do better with rabbit.