Amidst the busy-ness of our weekend, we are proud to announce that we have added some furry additions to the family!  If you recall a post I did some time ago (here), I discussed our desire to start our farm’s foundation stock on heritage breeds.  I had gotten my heart set on a breed of rabbit called the American Chinchilla, a beautiful, large, meat-type with soft, silky fur that looks like a chinchilla.  It is a very rare breed of rabbit, and, in fact, is listed on the “critically endangered” list of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy records.  Because they are so rare, I couldn’t find any within a day’s drive.  So, we settled for what we could find–mini-lop rabbits.

"Smokey" and "Stew," the mini-lop rabbits

It wasn’t easy to find any rabbits around here, but I thought I had finally found a reputable breeder/rabbit showman.  We originally had taken 3 rabbits, as one seemed sickly, and we figured if all 3 survived, we would harvest one to try rabbit meat.  Sure enough, one wound up having a previously dislocated and then fused knee joint.  We harvested her about 6 weeks ago.  We were convinced we had a doe and a buck remaining.  The buck had a defective eye that the breeder had sworn was a mild infection.  It had cleared up nicely, but wasn’t exactly a sign of hardiness.  The remaining rabbit seemed healthy in every way, and even I was convinced it was a doe.  Something seemed off though, so I re-evaluated again last week, to discover that our “doe” was actually a defective buck.  He was a cryptorchid, with very mishapen parts.  He had also become quite difficult to handle, resulting in scratches to the kids everytime they tried.  Our farm will not have a place for difficult animals! 

As S and I were debating whether to let the kids keep the bunnies as pets or harvest them, I got an e-mail on Friday from an American Chinchilla breeder I had been in contact with some time ago.  He just happened to be coming to a rabbit show about an hour from us on Saturday and offered to bring some.  I talked to the kids, and we all agreed to harvest the rabbits we had and start fresh with the breed we wanted anyway.  So, early Saturday morning, JR and I left to head to the rabbit show.  This guy certainly knew his stuff, and was a much more responsible breeder than the previous lady!  The only problem was, I had NO idea how massive a 4-month old American Chinchilla rabbit was!  My little carrier I had taken to bring them home in was only big enough for one!  JR wound up having to hold the other on his lap the whole trip home!

M holding "Peter" rabbit.

We had to get creative with caging arrangements for the 24 hours in which we had 4 bunnies.  The next day, we let the kids tell their smaller bunnies good-bye.  It wouldn’t have been wise to sell them anyway, as they were less than the quality desired for passing on genes.  Harvesting (isn’t it such a nice word for a tragic end?) them was really the best option.

JR and Smokey

M and Stew (aka Foster and Jay)

Sunday afternoon, S did the deed, and we had a delicious pot of Brunswick Stew with rabbit meat for dinner.  Talk about fresh! 

So now, S has successfully dressed 3 rabbits this summer, and we have purchased our first heritage foundation stock for the farm!  I am so thrilled to have gotten these rabbits.  I will do another post on them later, as it is a breed worth sharing!

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