Happy New Year!

Wow, I am just now realizing how long it has been since I’ve blogged here! I’ll try to catch you up on our farm happenings. November was a crazy month at the farm. We had to get the place ready to host Andy’s family of over two dozen, and we also butchered the meat chickens and fifteen Thanksgiving turkeys. The turkeys were done the weekend before Thanksgiving and we learned that many of our customers loved having a fresh bird to prepare. The best part of farm life is reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, while showing people how their food is raised and processed.

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The turkeys almost ready to eat!

We also had two litters of rabbits born. A mix of New Zealand and Chinchilla.

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Baby rabbits and momma

In December we moved the chickens and rabbits into the chicken house, the sheep into the barn, and butchered the a small batch of turkeys for Christmas. Chore time is a little easier now, thankfully, because we are learning that this is going to be a snowy Ohio winter.

The new year brings new goals, ideas, and challenges for our farm. We hope to expand our operation and meet some new friends and customers by selling at local farmers markets. On-farm sales will continue as well. We feel blessed to be able to be have this opportunity and look forward to serving your local food needs in the coming years.

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Rabbit wrangling

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For the past two Sunday mornings we’ve had to capture some escapees. Half of our rabbits are outside on the ground in pens. Last week our first batch of meat rabbits dug out of a cage with too large holes. This week a latch was left open. In both cases we used a net and employed the techniques we’ve seen on Linus’s new favorite show, Gator Boys. You have to wear them out for a bit, then when they are resting…you jump them! It definitely makes for an exciting chore time!

Baby bunnies & brooding

This is actually our second litter of bunnies. Our first female had a little about a month and a half ago, and something went wrong, as sometimes happens with animals. She didn’t take care of them, and they died, and then she died. This was Lucy’s bunny, and she was a little upset, but handled it pretty well. Our other female, Kara (Sally’s bunny), had these babies three to four weeks ago, and I expected the worst again. However, Kara turned out to be a great mom and has raised six baby bunnies to the size you see below. They are so cute but we aren’t naming them. In fact, when Linus is showing them off to our visitors he says “We don’t name them because they are meat rabbits and we are going to eat them.” We’ve still had fun holding them and the girls like to give them a kiss.

Andy noticed that one of our hens was getting quite broody, and being the type of person to try anything once, he figured he’d let her sit on some eggs to see if they would hatch. She’s been on the nest for about a week now, and we’ll let you know if we get some babies. I found a great article in mother earth news about choosing the correct eggs to make sure you get female chicks (you want a more purely oval shape, and not pointed).

It has been exciting to for all of us to see these new changes in our animals and continue to learn more about them.

How does your mom cook rabbit?

The title of this post has been a running joke between Andy and I ever since we were dating. He recalled the story of visiting a college friend’s family, where members would shoot guns from the windows of the house and served rabbit for dinner. He was asked “How does your mom cook rabbit?” with the answer of “She doesn’t.”

We added three meat rabbits to our farm last fall when our friends the Burns family were looking to thin out their herd? (flock? what do you call a group of rabbits?…Wikipedia for the answer, it is a herd). They also gave us a frozen, dressed meat rabbit to try. Well, it sat in the freezer since then, until Andy pulled it out last Sunday night to thaw. We are debating breeding either one or both does, and so we wanted to make sure we liked it.

Meet Funny, Kara, and Oreo, our breeding stock.

To be honest, I thought I would be freaked out by seeing the carcass, because of course rabbits are  cute and cuddly. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. On Wednesday our friend and neighbor Kristin  was over for a playdate, and she is a poultry and culinary expert, so we asked her how to cook it. She recommended sticking it in the crock pot and seasoning it just like you would chicken.

First, I soaked it in salt water. Next, I put it in the crock pot with some Penzeys spices and a little water, and cooked it on high. It was done in a few hours, and smelled really good. Te meat pulled right off the bone (which I left in the pot) and I shredded it and cut it and served it with some barbecue sauce on the side. I told the kids it was chicken <wink> and they all ate it and liked it. And we did too! Andy thinks it will make great shredded barbecue sandwiches. The meat was very lean, which is an added bonus.

Rabbit is becoming quite the rage in higher end restaurants, and we will be excited to add it to our inventory this fall. If you are adventurous and looking for a high protein, lower sodium meat (I found some neat links about it, including this one from Livestrong touting the benefits for athletes), let us know!