Remember these adorable faces?  

Well, they got bigger.  I have learned why rabbits are generally housed outside!  They are messy and smelly in an indoor cage!  As hoped, they have been wonderful for the kids.  JR and M share responsibility for them–JR feeds and waters in the morning, M feeds at night and JR waters again, and both kids share responsibility for exercising them almost daily.  One thing is for sure, these little bunnies are living the high life….healthy diet, homemade mega-condo cage, outdoor exercise in the grass, and all the love and attention they can stand!  Cleaning the cage, on the other hand, still falls to me, and I was looking forward to having one less rabbit messing in it!

But, all good things must come to an end.  If you read my previous post (here), then you may remember that we thought Clara (the orange and white one) was rather frail, and Stew (the black one) had a bad eye infection.  Well, as it turned out, in the healthier conditions, Stew’s infection not only cleared up, but his eye healed completely.  He has turned out to be quite a nice mini-lop buck!   Clara, on the other hand, remained more frail than the others.  She wound up having deformed legs (hard to tell with her other issues early on), and we couldn’t figure out what the problem was.  With the daily exercise and the great cage, one of her legs improved and gained strength, but the other always stuck straight out, obviously fused at the knee joint.

This bunny had been M’s pick when we got them, and she was always the sweetest, most gentle and laid back bunny.  She was perfect for a child’s pet, but, alas, she didn’t gain weight like the others, and that bum leg was really a hinderance for her. 

As originally planned, the time finally came to select a bunny for the dinner table.  We decided Clara would be the best candidate, due to her physical issues.  We spent about 2 weeks preparing the kids, and allowing M to absorb the fact that Clara would go and she could claim Stew as her own.  Surprisingly, JR was more saddened at the idea, but both kids were so excited to taste rabbit, they both eagerly awaited butchering day. 

Note:  the following pictures are graphic.  If you have issues with raising animals for meat, you probably don’t want to look. 

It was decided this past Saturday morning was the big day.  S spent a couple of evenings prior studying the process and preparing his tools. 

S sharpening his knives.

 Meanwhile, we told the kids to say goodbye to Clara, which they did.

That bunny should've had no question that she was well-loved during her short life!

Since S had not actually killed before, we decided not to let the kids watch that part (much to JR’s dismay—he is a typical boy, after all), in the event anything went wrong.  Fortunately, all went smoothly, and the bunny did not suffer.  After S removed the head (making the body a bit less familiar to the kids), we allowed the kids to watch the rest of the process, so they would fully understand where their meat comes from.  JR had seen a cow skinned and butchered before, but M had no experience with it. 

They were fascinated, and S turned it into a bit of a science lesson, explaining the body parts as they were removed.

Skinning the rabbit.

Everything went smoothly, with the kids learning more about anatomy with each step.  The mystery of her leg was solved after skinning as well.  Turns out her knee joint had been dislocated at some point early on (before we got her), and had fused in that position.  We were all looking forward to dinner, until S pulled out the liver.  It was covered in white lesions, which we knew couldn’t be good!

The questionable liver.

 We spent several hours researching what the spots might be.  We even considered sending it off to a pathology lab to be sure (and for future reference), but when we found out how pricey that was, we decided to take our chances.  We concluded it was most likely tape worm cysts, and just decided to ensure we thoroughly cooked the meat to reduce the chances of anything else it might be.  Even the worst of the issues would apparently be eliminated at 180 degrees!

S later prepared dinner–fryed rabbit.  Unfortunately, M and I were at the E.R for her lip repair during dinner, but according to S, the kids were absolutely crazy over the rabbit meat.  Even the toddlers just kept asking for more!  Finally, S set several small pieces aside for M and I.  When we got home, M looked at it and said, “I’m NOT going to eat Clara!”  JR proceeded to animatedly tell her how delicious the meat was.  Then she watched me bite into it, and when I exclaimed how great it tasted, she got very curious and wanted a bite.  I gave her a bite, then she took the rest of my rabbit.  Oh well. 

So I guess we have kids who are well on their way to being farm kids, eating their own butchered animals as the main course.  Additionally, I have a husband well on his way to being the main butcher on the farm!  One more step toward self-sufficiency!

So now, I just have to figure out what I’m going to do with a buck and a doe housed in the same cage.  We were supposed to have 2 does (Smokey and Clara), but since things turned out this way, we have to come up with a new plan quickly (like in the next 2 weeks) or there will be lots of little kits running around.  We will have to divide the cage, get a new, seperate cage, or plan to eat lots of rabbit in about 4 months!