Friday, November 8, 2013

Our First Rabbit Pt. 1

WARNING: This post will probably contain some graphic content, including photos, so if you get squeamish about blood and butchering, etc, it might be a good idea to skip this post.

So this morning it happened: Ryan and I woke up early before the girls got up; we dressed; we prepared a spot in our garage..... and we slaughtered our first rabbit.

It wasn't quite as cut-and-dry as it sounds, folks. It was definitely a learning experience (and a good one, too!).

To start, our plan was to go and get our buck, calmly bring him into the garage, set him on the ground, and then quickly lock a broom-handle across the back of his neck (which I would then stand on to keep him there) while Ryan swiftly pulled on the rabbits back legs to break his neck: no muss, no fuss.

Well.... it almost went like that. Ryan did get the buck calmly into the garage, and he did quickly get the broom-handle across the back of the buck's neck, and I did quickly stand on it..... but when Ryan pulled the buck's back legs to break his neck, the force knocked me off-balance and I stepped off of the broom-stick!!

"Oh no, what are you doing?! Get back on! Get back on!!" Ryan urged as I scrambled back on and tried to think heavy thoughts (literally.... I felt like I was too light to put enough weight on the thing) and I held onto Ryan's shoulder while he yanked the buck's legs again.

Writing this post up to this part took longer than it actually took for this whole event to take place. The buck actually did die the first time that Ryan pulled, but we were in such an upset about me falling off the broom-handle before we were sure of that fact that he needed to do it again just to be 100% sure.

During this part of the process, my heart was racing a bit. This was honestly the first thing I had ever helped to kill (other than bothersome, gross insects, and once a little vole that the cat had tortured and then left to die.... I couldn't let it suffer!!). Looking at the rabbit's legs twitching... and then his little tail twitching.... and noticing that his eye was directed right at me even though he wasn't actually "looking" at me.... well it was all a bit exhilarating as well as shocking.

I love and respect living creatures... I used to cry when my dad would trap mice on those little glue-trap things, because I knew the poor dears would either have to be killed or live our the rest of their lives with crippled appendages (because that glue... does NOT come off). And I honestly thought that maybe killing this rabbit would be really hard for me, because he was such a cool rabbit, and he was pretty and hefty and just.... well a big, warm, living, breathing thing.

But an interesting thing happened: I calmed down really quickly, and reminded myself that we killed this big, warm, living, breathing thing because we are going to eat it. He is going to nourish us, and so are the rest of the rabbits that we have thriving and playing on our property.

So anyhow, the rabbit was quite large and we weighed him before we began butchering.... 8 pounds this guy was!!!

Ryan laid him out on the spot we prepared for butchering...

 ...and he began cutting the fur and trying to remove the pelt. This was kind of funny... and lengthy... The buck was totally fat. He had his winter coat already, and there was a thick layer of blubber underneath the fur that just would not (willingly) separate from the muscle.

So Ryan got the buck's "pajamas" (as "They" call it) halfway off, and then the fur just wouldn't come off anymore. At this point, Ryan asked if I was comfortable holding onto the already-skinned part of the rabbit (which was the front legs and front-half of the torso) and pulling while he pulled the fur from the other end to speed up this part of the process.  I set down the camera (I had to document our first Rabbit) and here came another first: I touched a freshly-killed, still-warm, furless carcass.... and it was weird. I will admit that I didn't just go all out and grab onto the thing like it was no big deal. I had to touch the body first a few times, poking it and then feeling it with the pads of my fingers and then hesitantly holding onto the front legs with my whole hands before realizing..... this was kind of neat.

I said I was good to go, and Ryan said "Make sure you hold on tight!" so I did.... and he pulled... and I pulled... and the fur started to come off.... and then the rabbit's front legs started to separate. I could feel it underneath my fingers and I said, "Uhhhh.... his legs are coming off...." To which Ryan asked, "What do you mean?" And I said, "I mean that his legs are separating from his body and coming off....." So he went to work with the knife some more, slowly and carefully slicing the fat and skin away from the muscle. Eventually, he got the pelt off, and it was time to remove the guts........

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