Today was processing day. My friends (four of them) showed up for the day right on time. One of them brought some champagne and we watched the processing a rabbit video twice. We discussed how it was going to be done and looked at the rabbits. Eventually the time was nigh, and we took one of the boys outside.
Broomsticking is harder than it looks. The first time I did nothing but upset the rabbit and it started screeching when I let up on the stick. This was quickly remedied and the neck popped. But I seriously hesitated, and may not have followed through if not for a friend literally stepping in to help. Off came the head with the scissors and I sat back and looked on. Still OK. Normally I’m pretty sensitive to blood but in this case I was OK. I’m glad I can deal with this at least!
Then came the skinning and gutting. It went VERY well. The videos and prepping I have done made all of it work out. I separated the organs for the dogs (lungs, heart, liver, kidneys) and pulled out the guts. It was messy but turned out. I had a good set-up; sturdy packing paper around my cleaning station to catch the guts, pan for edible organs, bucket of bleach water for scissors and knife and a bucket of rinse water for after the bleach. One more bucket for skins. The rabbits went indoors to be rinsed heavily and tidied up after each cleaning.
The cleaning went well and the rabbit went inside to be rinsed. Second rabbit was killed by a friend and the neck did not break right away either. It’s hard; they don’t tell you what to feel for. The first “pop” doesn’t do it, you have to KEEP pulling until you feel the second, much bigger pop and it feels like there is nothing between the stick and the earth. This is what they don’t tell you; until that big POP happens the rabbit is still alive a dying slowly; you have to end it RIGHT there. Once you feel the second pop you’ll know it and then you KNOW it’s done. The third rabbit was unfortunately similar done by me. None of the kills took “long” but an extra 10 seconds makes a difference to the rabbits. Next time it will be faster.
The third rabbit was skinned by my best friend. I love telling people about this girl because she is 5’2″, 100lbs and the most powerful girl I know. She drives a black jeep, hikes in the woods and does fencing and archery for shits and giggles. Her first time touching an animal for processing and she skinned the rabbit in just a couple of minutes. It was incredible. She popped the skin off like an expert hunter; she has never touched a live skin in her life. I love this girl to death and we have been friends for over 12 years. I’m honored every day to be friends with such an amazing person!
The fourth and fifth rabbits went very well, and were frozen aside for a taxidermist that wants some small animals to practice on.
Then the last rabbit, Tasty, was processed. I could not get ahold of my sister to give her away and I got in my new breeder; a lovely otter standard Rex rabbit. It was time for her to go. Being a HUGE 10lb rabbit made it harder but with the help of one of the more masculine muscular members there it was quick. Cleaning the rabbit was harder; Tasty was a big girl in life and in death her carcass felt like 50lbs. But actually cleaning her was the best I did on any of them and her pelt will be wonderful tanned.
As we killed each one we thanked them for their sacrifice. We thanked them for the lives they were giving to feed us, our customers and contribute to our income. We apologized for the need before setting them on the ground to dispatch them. While I raised them specifically for food, there’s a part of me that wished I could keep them all as pets forever and watch them live out their lives… But that’s not how the real world is.
By the last two rabbits I was happy and calm. I felt proud for my accomplishments; here I had kept and raised six animals under optimal conditions and turned them into my food. It’s amazing how fast the rabbits went in my mind from living animals to meat once they were dead. One of the four people I had with me commented how amazed she was that I had become so comfortable so quickly. But how could I not? I have been planning this for months, I knew where my food came from years ago, and I knew the animals lived well.
I am still waiting to hear back from the museum about the skulls. Unfortunately one of my friends screwed up the rabbits for the taxidermist a little, putting the one that was bleeding from it’s mouth head-down so it bled out a fair amount (which is bad). Greg was supposed to be the one to do this, but he didn’t. He flipped out a little when the whole, head-attached dead rabbits came in as well. I may have to offer a rather significant discount for the one that is messed up
At the end of the whole process my friends and I sat down to eat the fruits of our labor; two fryer rabbits, cooked in a crock-pot with extra spices and onions. Mashed potatoes and carrots on the side. We cracked open then champagne and some orange juice (for those who don’t drink) and had a toast. I think we all felt pretty good about the day, and next time it’ll go way better.
I am especially glad. I know tonight that my meal was free of chemicals from happy rabbits that lived well. And that’s mostly what I hope to pass on to anyone who eats my rabbits; that these rabbits lived and died well under extrodinary care.