The Moment Of Truth

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.

Bon Apetite!


10 thoughts on “The Moment Of Truth

    • Delicious! Everyone was very satisfied with it. I put the rabbits in my 5 quart crock pot with a whole onion, apple cider vinegar, marsala cooking wine, two chickken bullion cubes, basil, pepper, celery seed, garlic powder, oregano and rosemary. Poured about 1/4 cup olive oil over the top and let it sit for 2 hours on high, flipped the rabbits and let it sit another one.

      Probably one of the best dinners I’ve had in a while. I love rabbit.

  1. I’m glad it turned out so well for you. And I’m glad you shared about the popping of the neck taking more than you had thought. I very well may be doing this in a couple of months myself. I really like the idea of you thanking the animal for its sacrifice, too. I think that is probably a very important step emotionally.

    So you cooked it for a total of 3 hours on high in the crockpot?

    • I did. Rabbit is a lot like chicken in that you need to cook it through in order to prevent diseases. Although considering how quickly it went from healthy animal to meat cooking in my crock pot there was no time for the diseases to incubate but still… Also, rabbit tastes best when cooked for longer on lower heat. Rabbit is a bit dryer than chicken so a longer cooking time helps with that too. It came out perfect; soft but not falling off the bones.
      If you end up using broomsticking it’s something worth knowing. Because with the first big pop the rabbit kicks like it’s dead and you think you’ve done it but you haven’t and you can see in it’s eyes as it’s slowly dying. It’s kind of bad. It really helps to have a second person just to stand on the other end of the stick and give it more weight.
      And I thanked the animals for their sacrifice because I genuinely appreciate it. Food is a great gift, and so is a life. I wasn’t really thinking about the emotional benefits of it. I just wanted them to know, even if they couldn’t understand, that I appreciated them.

      • I think we will probably end up getting the rabbit wringer, just because the method you use with it seems like it makes very sure they are dead very fast. A little pricey, but they have one you can also do poultry on, including turkey which is a long, long term goal down the road.

        For me, I think my emotions would be all over the place the first time, so the idea of thanking them (aside from being grateful for what they are providing me with their life and death), would be helpful in keeping me steady with the killing process while I get more accomplished at it. But also, I think thanking them would always make it almost a more sacred act. Not sacred like religious, just…extreme honor for their gift.

        • To my understanding, a neck wringer is much the same as broomsticking; either way you’re breaking the neck by putting a bar behind the head and pulling back. And either way if you don’t muscle through and pull steady the neck won’t break properly and the tendons will snap first and you will have the same problems. It’s just sideways intead of up.

          I think it is a sacred act. Many cultures have different ways of honoring the dead animal… Inuits believed the soul was in the baldder and would inflate seal bladders and return them to the ocean. Many native americans ate a peice of the liver or heart raw. Some african cultures rub the saliva of their kill on their skin. Lots of cultures around the worldd sing and dance or say prayers. It’s only our own, “modern” culture that veiws it’s food so flippantly. So I think it’s important to have a practice to show respect for the animals we kil. :3

  2. Congrats on your rabbit processing! I tried the broomstick method on two different rabbits and gave up. I don’t think I have the arm strength to do it successfully. Everything looks so easy on video.

    The recipe you used sounds wonderful. Yum! I bet they were delish!

    • Thanks! It’s WAY harder than it looks. I’d shoot them with like a BB gun in the brain but that’s illegal where I live. All firearms are not allowed to be discharged. That being said I think I can do it on my own next time and without screwing up, if I just put a little more elbow grease into it. And I just kid of BSed the recipie and dumped things in. I made it like I woulda made a chicken!

    • Thanks! We name our breeders after dog foods. We have a Purina, and a Nutro and our new rex rabbit is Kibbles… “Tasty” was a nickname for “Taste of the Wild”, a grain-free food our dogs currently eat. The theory is older rabbits are tougher and we wouldn’t want to eat our breeders that we keep and care for, for years… But we don’t want unproductive older rabbits, so they’re all slated for some-day dog food. 😛

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