Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Why Not Rabbits?

Sometimes folks ask me why we don't raise meat rabbits. Rabbits are easy to raise, don't take up a lot of space, are extremely economical, and well... breed like rabbits. So why not? The answer is simple- we won't.

Fatty meat chicken. Not a meat rabbit.

The fact is that there is no "good"reason why we don't raise rabbits for the table. When I say "good" I mean there is no logical and/or logistical reason. For instance, there are a lot of good/logical/logistical reasons why we don't have milk cows. We don't have pasture, they are expensive to buy, and if I get kicked in the head by a goat I'll just get mad, get my knives, and start the grill. If I get kicked in the head by a cow I'll just lay there in a heap for hours until my husband gets home. We think those are "good" reasons not to have to cow.

Not to mention the last time I had to chase the neighbor's cows.... one of them turned around and chased me. As I stood my ground, trying to "puff up and look big," I thought to myself, "Damn... this is just stupid."

You see, our whole success at this farming thing depends on me not getting hurt. I need to be able to get up, walk on two legs, and use both arms to do hard manual labor... all while performing high-level cognitive reasoning. Loss of any of those puts us in a tight spot.

But rabbits aren't going to run me down, kick me (too) hard, or do much more than leave me with a bad bite.... so why not?

We just won't.

Notice I didn't say "can't." There is a world of difference between can't and won't. It's important to understand the difference and be OK with it. Sometimes I think folks think farming is a competitive sport and everyone has to do the same thing. Nope. Not true. The only way this works is if you start with what you've got, do what you can, and do what works for you.

Our beautiful Pep, not a meat rabbit but is shaped like one. Plus she is a goof.

We won't raise rabbits for the table because... well. We're soft on them. Any time I see a meat rabbit all I can think of is our beautiful cat, Pepper. Pep is mostly bunny shaped and has soft and luxurious fur. Bunny-like fur. Anytime I think of butchering rabbits all I can see in my mind's eye is Pepper in a pot. The Big Man raised rabbits as a kid for 4H... so he's soft on them too. So we just won't do it. We are OK with that.

Butcher goats? Sure. We think are ready to do that this fall. Chickens? Heck we can do that all day long. Pigs? Lambs? Buffalo? Sure, sure, and while we could I'm not sure we have the set up for a full sized bison but we'd sure give it a go.

But rabbits? We just both get a little nervous and start avoiding eye contact. Now, the folks I know who raise rabbits love it - they think it's easier than dressing chickens and can't imagine why we are squeamish about it. We just stand there and shrug.

We don't know why folks don't like to butcher chickens. We don't think they are too gross, are not put off by the feathers (we skin chickens anyway), and it's extremely easy for us to let the meat chickens roam around the farm until their day of glory comes. But we won't try and over convince you if it's not your thing. Everyone has their limit and that's OK. Rabbits are past our limit.

Should YOU raise rabbits? Absolutely! I'm 100% behind that and will encourage you all I can.  Just because it's not for us doesn't mean you shouldn't give it a try. Folks who can't have chickens (due to zoning or what not) say that rabbits are the answer. They are quiet, don't take up much room, provide a ton of excellent compost, and nosy neighbors will be none the wiser. Rabbit meat is lean and lovely and they have an excellent feed to meat conversion. Plus when they have babies you say they "kindle" which is a hilarious word, if you ask me.

And you can cook rabbit in all kinds of ways, including like this.

If I were to get started I would get the Storey's Guide to Raising Rabbits. Also, I know a guy who knows a guy who wrote a book about Backyard Meat Rabbits as part of his Urban Rabbit Project. How terrific is that?

So what do you think? Are you are fan of raising rabbits for the table? Thinking about it? Just because it's not for us doesn't mean that it isn't the perfect project for you. Come on now, hop right out and find out the story on meat rabbits.

Happy Thursday everyone!

Editor's note: Again with the affiliate links to Amazon and another disclaimer? Yep! And also I have an update to this post about the All American pressure canner. Looks like that great sale has come and gone. I've moved the All American ad down lower on this page so I can keep track of that sale and to see if it comes back. However, the Presto 23 quart canner is still a terrific deal at just $75 and that includes FREE SHIPPING from Amazon. I have two Presto's and I just love them. 
If you like this blog or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts - and you have to buy something from Amazon anyway - why not start your purchase from Amazon from one of the links, my store, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page? I'll get a tiny percentage of the sale which helps me maintain the "cost" of this blog. Every little bit helps - Thanks!  


Fresh Eggs Farm said...

I think it is awesome to know your limits. We are currently in the meat rabbit debate. We butchered chickens for the first time last year and plan on doing another 16 this week (or next). It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it'd be...plus the meat couldn't be beat.
Rabbits - I just need to get past the "cute and fuzzy bunny" part. Mark would do the "deed" of killing - but I would be the one that would help with all the dressing out and such...so the question more lays on Mark - can HE do it? That is where we stand...no rush to begin.
I couldn't do goats. We have dairy and fiber goats - but they have so much personality, that I know I couldn't deal with that. But certainly support anyone's decision to butcher and eat them.

katiegirl said...

Aw, Pepper in a pot is a sad thought. I love my meat rabbits. I'm not sure I'll ever raise another meat chicken though. One word...plucking! Rabbits are soooo much easier, IMO, so I will happily stick with them. :-) I do miss some parts of raising chickens...like roasting them whole. I don't miss it enough to deal with their stinky poops and plucking though! Haha.

buddeshepherd said...

When I was just a wee lad I would sometimes stay with my Grandparents. My Grandfather was somewhat intimidating. He was tall and kind of stern and a man of few words. Very polite and quietly in charge sort of person, with a rather droll sense of humor.
One time Grandma had rabbit for dinner. The Grandparents were from South of the Mason-Dixon line which meant really good cooking. And bacon grease. And things that look like weeds that become really tasty when fried in above mentioned grease.
The rabbit was quite tasty until Grandpa implied that it might actually be the missing family cat.
First and only time I ever heard my Grandmother speak sharply to Grandpa...

David said...

They are definately on the list. I can see why folks wouldn't though.

Vera said...

You are right, everyone has to find their own way of doing things. We are not so keen on goats because of their temperament, so prefer our two cows to give us our milk, cheese, and butter, but Lester is the one who has daily contact with the cows and their size is not a bother to him. But if I were in your shoes, then I would prefer to keep goats because, as you say, they are smaller and will do you less harm. I, too, am very aware of the physical dangers which can happen when around animals. Smallholding certainly makes one more aware of one's own mortality!

Cathy said...

We're starting this in the next couple of months. Can't wait! We can't have chickens so this is the next best thing. We'll have to butcher in the garage..don't think the neighbors would be too happy seeing it.

Unknown said...

Well we CAN'T raise rabbits because its illegal here! But we can shoot the wild ones.... I need to work on my aim!

Unknown said...

I could never raise and kill bunnies either, and probably not goats. Chickens and birds yes. Don't ask me why!

Reese Strong said...

I also have the soft spot for rabbits and I don't think I could eat them because all I see are their cuteness. I have nothing against the rabbit meat, I think they really are profitable when it comes to livestock.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

yep, there sure are Reese! thanks for stopping by!

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