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I'm at a Crossroads

A place to post bits of news, ideas, musings and other things that don't really fit into the other forums.
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I'm at a Crossroads

Post Number:#1  Unread postby karebru » Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:17 pm


Hi, guys. I haven’t posted since last August. (I had to look it up.) :oops:
Warning: This rambling post may end up making up for my silence with its length. :roll:

It was a long, hot summer of just feeding and cage cleaning. I’m still turning the fans on occasionally, and it’s January! I think the only way we’re going to cool down significantly is if I replant the coconut trees we lost a few years ago… Then we’d be sure to have a hard freeze that would kill them. :?

I’m at a place where I need to decide where to go with my little meat rabbit hobby. They’ve been in my attached garage since I started a couple years ago, and of course, I now have more than I originally intended to. (10) I’ve only breed one small litter so far this winter. (2 @ 3 weeks old) I don’t have enough cages to grow out more, and don’t want to expand again.
An easy answer is to make bunny burger out of a few older ones, but…

Last winter, we processed 12 or 15, ate some ourselves, and gave some away.
It has been a learning process, for sure.
First, I think my wife and I need to try harder in the kitchen. So far we haven’t made a rabbit meal that was exciting enough to justify the work involved. She has gotten sensitive to spicy food as we’ve gotten older, and rabbit by itself is... pretty boring. :whistle:
Another thing I’ve learned about rabbits is that they have personalities, and if you interact with them, even if it’s just enough to make them manageable, they become affectionate and are happy to see you when you walk by. And yes… I’ve heard the saying, “Don’t name them if you plan on eating them.” But I was surprised to find that they recognize and visibly respond to the names you give them. :-|
I haven’t gone soft(er) or anything. I won’t have a problem processing these grow-outs, (Which will never have names.) but the 8 adult and I spent the whole summer with and then some, being the “petting zoo” in my logo? That might be hard. :roll:

Anyway, they’ve got to come out of the garage. It’s too crowded and too hard to keep clean the way things are. There’s a friend of a friend who breeds. He’s expressed interest in taking some or all of them if I decide to go that route, but I’m not sure I want to. I keep going back and forth but, putting up some kind of minimal shelter out back for them is probably the answer. Money’s an issue, but with our climate, it would just be a matter of providing shade and protection from rain. If tropical weather threatens, the garage is still here.
I guess, I’d still have to thin the herd or get more grow out cages. :doh:

Any ideas about building a rabbit shelter for cheap?
Thanks! :-D
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Re: I'm at a Crossroads

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Homer » Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:36 pm


Do some research on pallet sheds. They're usually free or used , very cheap for good ones. Tarps from places like Harbor Freight don't cost a lot either.

Wish I had your problem right now and had to run a fan "now and then". It was -7(f) this morning here. :shock:
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Re: I'm at a Crossroads

Post Number:#3  Unread postby ladysown » Sat Jan 07, 2017 6:33 pm


personally if you have to cut back I'd do so. Cut them back to a manageable number and only keep two grow out cages. Sell the oldest three to your friend. Then you have three grow out cages.. meaning TWO grow out cages and one for a replacement buck or doe down the road.
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Re: I'm at a Crossroads

Post Number:#4  Unread postby karebru » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:25 pm


Thanks, both.
A pallet shed is an idea, and I have access to them. I'd have to collect them for a while. The guy I got my silverfoxes from had a lattice sided shed. Good shelter and air circulation. Pallets would do the same.

Ladysown, I don't have to cut back as much as I need to reclaim my garage, but your suggestion is a good one. For one thing, I have a couple extra bucks that should probably go to freezer camp. I also need to decide where I want to go with breeding. Focus on the SF, or the smaller Florida White - Havana mutts that I've been toying with. The litters are smaller than the SFs and therefore, easier to house. I don't need high production for my own use. My single FW is a buck and probably my best rabbit, so he stays until he's too old... He needs to loose some weight, though. ;)
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Re: I'm at a Crossroads

Post Number:#5  Unread postby BlueHaven » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:32 pm


There is nothing wrong with deciding you don't care to do a meat rabbit project. If you want to place half of them and keep half for pets. just do that.
I have finally found that adding chicken bullion to my cooking liquids make my rabbit taste really good, and have found some recipes that I like. I find it easier to just have all the rabbits one color to start with as then they are all pretty much just rabbits and dressing out day, no longer bothers me. I sell any old does I can't justify keeping to other meat breeders so I am out of the loop. I have placed a few as pets if I just can't let them go any other way. Do what you really want to do. There is no reason not to.

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Re: I'm at a Crossroads

Post Number:#6  Unread postby karebru » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:18 am


BlueHaven wrote:There is nothing wrong with deciding you don't care to do a meat rabbit project. If you want to place half of them and keep half for pets. just do that.
I have finally found that adding chicken bullion to my cooking liquids make my rabbit taste really good, and have found some recipes that I like. I find it easier to just have all the rabbits one color to start with as then they are all pretty much just rabbits and dressing out day, no longer bothers me. I sell any old does I can't justify keeping to other meat breeders so I am out of the loop. I have placed a few as pets if I just can't let them go any other way. Do what you really want to do. There is no reason not to.

Thanks, BlueHaven.
I do want to do this. It just needs to be more manageable as far as space and cleaning goes. And I need to decide which ones I should keep, not which ones I can get rid of... If that makes any sense.
The whole pet thing is a slippery slope. (But I do want a pair of Belgian Hares someday.) We had a blue Silverfox kit last year, that had splayed front legs. It was oblivious to it's issues and really cute. For a couple of days my wife was thinking about bringing her in the house and keeping her as "special needs" pet. Then she decided, no. If she did that she'd end up wanting to "save" all of them. She's like me... A soft heart, but no illusions about where meat comes from. On processing day, I slaughter, skin and gut. Then she takes them in the house, cleans them up and bags them for the refrigerator... Including the one with splayed legs. ;)

Y'all are a great sounding board for someone who hasn't posted in months. Thanks again! :yes:
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Re: I'm at a Crossroads

Post Number:#7  Unread postby MaggieJ » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:46 am


First, I think my wife and I need to try harder in the kitchen. So far we haven’t made a rabbit meal that was exciting enough to justify the work involved. She has gotten sensitive to spicy food as we’ve gotten older, and rabbit by itself is... pretty boring. :whistle:


Rabbit needn't be boring. The meat invites being gently seasoned rather than spiced up. Most common herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, marjoram) work well with rabbit. A chopped apple or bit of apple juice does wonders. Try using allspice as well as black pepper. Bacon is a favourite seasoning for many people and it helps baste the rabbit as it cooks. Just my preferences, but perhaps they may strike a chord with you and your wife.

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Re: I'm at a Crossroads

Post Number:#8  Unread postby Rainey » Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:08 pm


karebru wrote:Thanks, both.
I also need to decide where I want to go with breeding. Focus on the SF, or the smaller Florida White - Havana mutts that I've been toying with. The litters are smaller than the SFs and therefore, easier to house. I don't need high production for my own use. My single FW is a buck and probably my best rabbit, so he stays until he's too old... He needs to loose some weight, though. ;)


Sounds like you've got a good start. You recognize you're at a crossroads and that you need to make decisions about breeding. It's so easy to just drift along, but with rabbits you can get overwhelmed pretty fast. Sounds like perhaps the part FW meat mutts are where you want to go--producing the amount of meat you want, easier to house, and your best buck is FW. And maybe they do better in your heat than the SF? It's hard giving advice because we each have such different situations and different goals, but that is what i'm hearing in your posts.
As for cooking rabbit meat, I would add to Maggie's suggestions 2 other herbs--lemon balm and tarragon. Also we press our own cider and often combine cider and olive oil and a little honey to baste rabbit cooked in the oven.

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Re: I'm at a Crossroads

Post Number:#9  Unread postby Stephanie » Sun Jan 08, 2017 1:50 pm


When I want a very easy rabbit meal, I use these. http://www.mccormick.com/spices-and-flavors/recipe-mixes/bag-n-season/bag-n-season-chicken Toss in a handful of baby potatoes and baby carrots with a few rabbit parts and stick it in the oven. I usually have several of these in the kitchen drawer.
Another one I enjoy is to fill a crockpot with front legs and maybe 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce. Leave on low all day, then toss in a 1/2 - 3/4 cup of rice. Cook it till the rice is done. I can put this on in the morning before leaving for work and have dinner nearly done when I get home.

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Re: I'm at a Crossroads

Post Number:#10  Unread postby karebru » Sun Jan 08, 2017 5:47 pm


Alright! Y'all are making me hungry now.
I'm gonna go move those bunny wings in the deep freeze to the fridge! :chef:
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Re: I'm at a Crossroads

Post Number:#11  Unread postby BlueHaven » Tue Jan 10, 2017 9:27 am


We love chicken cordon blue casserole made with rabbit. My husband still kind of just picks at his rabbit and now he saves the loins for just this recipe. You can find tons of different versions of this all over the net, but regardless of which one you pick it will most likely be really really good.

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Re: I'm at a Crossroads

Post Number:#12  Unread postby karebru » Sat Jan 14, 2017 9:41 am


Well... I'm gonna cut the herd in half, and focus on my FW/Havana mutts. I'm waiting to hear from the guy that said he'd take my Silverfoxes and an extra Havana buck. (Hopefully this weekend.)
I will temporarily have twice as many cages as rabbits, and it will give me a chance to shuffle them around and do some serious cleaning while I get ready to move them outside.
Plans for that are in the works. It may take a little while... Watch for pictures in the Housing and Equipment forum. :farmer2:
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Re: I'm at a Crossroads

Post Number:#13  Unread postby Preitler » Tue Jan 17, 2017 4:00 pm


Hi,

hm, it's not exactly crossroads where I am, but I have to cut back. Now I have 3 breeding doe duos, all mother/daughter pairs. Too much. One duo would be enough.

My problem is, I got attached to my two oldest does (they hate each other, both alphas), and since they are happier and healthier in company I kept a daughter each.
I also kept the nicest 2nd generation doe, and a good daughter of her. Those are, in meat and character, very good rabbits, they are what I'm striving for.

So I have 6 does, 3 times of what I can utilize, or want to care for, but I love my 2 old ones, don't want them to live alone, but also don't want to sell off the result I was breeding for :(
My freezer is full to the brim, don't need no litter for a year (have overdone it last year), so what to do with my does?
"Sometimes I stand by the door and look into the darkness, then I am reminded how dearly I cherish my boredom, and what a precious commodity is so much misery"

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Re: I'm at a Crossroads

Post Number:#14  Unread postby Rainey » Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:47 pm


I think the questions raised in this thread would be good for anyone starting out with rabbits to read before they start breeding, and perhaps before they even bring any rabbits home Because the good thing about rabbits is how quickly they multiply and the bad thing about rabbits is the same thing. The members here on RT have all sorts of different goals and that's good. And sometimes it's easy to get going in too many directions at once and those cages fill up fast. Keeping whatever the goal is clearly in focus is crucial.
I'm tempted when I see photos of litters on here to get a broken or a different color so I'd have more variety of kits. But it wouldn't make any sense for me, since our goal is meat for the family. As we select the healthiest and the best built and best grow out rate from our litters, it looks like we may end up with all blue rabbits. And that's fine because we don't use the pelts and have no interest in showing.
karebu seems to have figured out which direction to go at the crossroad.
Pretier's dilemma is harder--a full freezer and older does that are pets and need companions and does that are the type he'd like to breed. Would a year of no breeding work? Or would the young does be harder to breed after such a gap?

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Re: I'm at a Crossroads

Post Number:#15  Unread postby karebru » Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:10 pm


As planned, I delivered the 3 SFs and 1 Havana on Sunday. The Silverfoxes are really sweet rabbits and I hated to see them go, but they were SO messy! Hair everywhere, and big rabbits pee and poop big. the Havana was a mess too. It took me a while, but I learned that if I beat him to the punch and gave him a little shot with a squirt bottle, he wouldn't spray me. :lol:
Now they're out of my garage, and outside where they'll be easier for the buyer to manage. It turns out that most of his herd is a NZ/SF mix. He was happy to take them. (I'm thinking he has a serious case of rabbitosis, though.)
I was off yesterday, and spent the day pressure washing cages and the garage floor. Things are under control again. 8-)
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