Memphis Backyard Farmer


Garlic Planting
November 22, 2012, 4:12 am
Filed under: Gardening, Urban Ag | Tags: , ,

I know I’m a little late (it’s November 21), but since it’s still 70 degrees here in Memphis, I thought I’d go ahead and get some garlic in the ground. This is my first attempt at garlic. Here’s hoping it takes!

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Butchering Day
November 6, 2012, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Livestock, Rabbits, Urban Ag | Tags: , , , , , ,

It happened.

Last Saturday we spent three hours butchering our first round of home-grown rabbits. Honestly, it took to long to get to this day. A combination of inconvenience (crazy busy summer), reluctance (what I call “cuddly bunny” syndrome), and inconvenience yet again (we had to find a Saturday when none of our neighbors were peering over the fence to see us cutting off animal heads), made us stretch this cycle out longer than we should have.

That being said, our six month old rabbits were large and plump, and much, much, heavier than they looked. Each rabbit probably weighed in at around five pounds.

I’m not sure what you would want me to say about the process. If you want a step-by-step on how we dressed the rabbits, I’d be glad to share. But if no one’s interested, I hate to waste the words. The only animals I’ve ever dressed were squirrels, and although it was similar, it was very different, especially the aspect of killing.

The killing was hard. What you need to know about me is that I’m a fainter. If I or any of my kids bleed, with even a busted lip, I’m down for the count. I’ve even been permanently banned from our local blood bank for passing out. So working up to this deed was hard. In addition, I truly am an animal lover, and always have been. But the reality is that we eat meat. Lots of meat. Someone is going to do the raising and killing of the animals I eat. I believe that as much as possible, I should be putting healthy food in my body, and the bodies of my family, and I should do my best to make sure the animals I eat are treated with respect and care through their lifetime. As someone put it (Joel Salatin?), give them a great life with only one (albeit really) bad day.

So before we began the process, I gathered the boys together and we prayed. We thanked God for the lives he had entrusted to us, for the food he was providing, and we told him that we hoped we had taken good care of the animals he had created. I explained to the boys that what we were doing was not sport – it was taking a life.  Then we set to work.

I might note here that not everyone decided to participate. My oldest son who is 17 has stated emphatically from the beginning that he’d be glad to eat the rabbits, but not kill them. To my surprise, my wife joined us. We deeply needed her help, because she is the expert in carving meat, and isn’t the least bit squeamish. My 13 year old, who had been excited about the arrival of butchering day didn’t stay for even one rabbit. I think it unnerved him (though, I will confess, the rabbit he helped with was a messy affair). And my youngest, my 11 year old, eagerly participated and did well. If you know my 15 year old, then you know his assistance was a given. He’s the one in the photos, below. He’ll most likely be in charge of tanning the hides. For now they are wrapped in wax paper in the freezer. The exercise of butchering five rabbits took three full hours. We didn’t have time to do anything beyond washing the hides and wrapping them for freezing.

Our reward for our work was an herb and beer braised rabbit dish that my wife found, and in her characteristic way, adapted for our tastes. It was absolutely fantastic. Everything we had hoped for and more.

Enjoy the pics, and if you want details of the process, comment below and I’ll provide everything I can.

Jake Initial Cutting

Rabbit, Skinned

Final Cleaning

Herb and Beer Braised Rabbit