- First and foremost, the meat is good.
- Secondly, rabbit has an inexpensive initial investment.
- Thirdly, they are clean, hearty animals, who can thrive almost anywhere while making awesome compost for our garden.
- Fourth, my children can learn about the miracle of living things, the reward and responsibility of meeting an animals needs, plus animal science (we are homeschoolers.)
What the rabbit?
Many of you are probably wondering why would they choose the cutest animal known to the holiday schedule, and consider it for food. We don’t see rabbit at the market in the U.S. very often, unless you shop at a nice local butcher shop that sells unusual meats, like Magro’s in Springfield. The other way to taste rabbit is if you are friendly with a hunter who is willing to share his hard earned delicacy with you. I recommend the market method, hunter’s are people and people have expectations, plus the meat may be tougher and have a stronger flavor often described as “gamey.” I love all wild game and have not known a “gamey” flavor.
- Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of the why…..mostly the meat. Did you know that rabbit is usually all white meat? It is leaner, higher in protein, and lower in calories than chicken. Yes, before you ask, you guessed it, it does taste very similar to chicken. Also, any chicken recipe, can basically be converted into a delicious rabbit dish. I found a recipe for sweet and sour rabbit that has pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges and is served over rice, rabbit and dumplings, fried rabbit with gravy, of course you can continue listing rabbit dishes like bubba gump, we can make rabbit chili, rabbit cacciatore, rabbit stew, rabbit tacos, rabbit kabobs…. ok I’ll stop. Another advantage to raising our own meat, is that with the supply problems the grocery stores experienced this year in particular, it is nice to have a legendarily prolific creature happily replenishing itself in our back yard. Eating a diet high in proteins can help you maintain a steady blood sugar level, which makes you feel better, physically and emotionally.
- Compared to other livestock options rabbits are very affordable. Clearly, the idea that they multiply rapidly, with mother ready to start another litter when her kits are 4 weeks old. This allows for her to easily have 5 to 8 pregnancies each year. Here comes the multiplication, with each litter producing an average of 7 additional rabbits, 1 mama can produce around 200 pounds of meat each year.
- We are making our own dirt to grow our garden. Although Northern Arkansas is very lush and green with plants and forests thriving for miles between every destination, the actual ground is pretty rocky. How do these forests thrive with such dry soil? Mother nature takes care of that by turning all of those leaves into a rich mulch that holds moisture and makes a rich compost on the forest floors. Fresh dew covers our land every morning, which makes the mornings feel freshly cleaned, and new, yesterday a distant memory, but makes your feet feel wet, bring your rubber boots. The nitrogen and phosphorus in the rabbit manure are higher than any other livestock manure. It can be used directly from the rabbit to the garden without composting. Plus this organic matter actually improves soil structure, moisture retention, and drainage, all very beneficial to the soil on our farm.
- Finally, it’s for the kids! Actually this whole experience is for the kids, however, the rabbits are soft and cute and all kids love them. We were able to purchase Peter and Mrs. Cottontail for a low, no haggle price of only $20 each, with nice cages included from a local farmer as well as feeding trays. All while getting the credit for Christmas and establishing an awesome daily reward for finishing their school work- 30 minutes of rabbit time for Bruce, Josie, Peter and Mrs. Cottontail, petting, snuggling and feeding veggies. This is also good for keeping the rabbits friendly.
Bruce’s Rabbit is Peter, a friendly father, ready to spring into action when nature needs him. Yes, my 5 and 6 year old are learning a lot about reproduction.
SELFIE With Mrs. Cottontail
A big thank you to the people at Troll Mountain Farms who sold us this amazing pair of Giant Flemmish/New Zealand Cross bred parents. Mrs. Cottontail is expecting 1 week before me, challenge accepted. Josie and Bruce had a blast at the rabbit farm to pick these bunnies up with me, in Witt Springs, Arkansas, fairly close to home.
We already have a chicken coop/ office/ Tool Shed!
This was the first time we walked the property before we decided to jump in and swim into this adventure. I was excited to see there was a chicken coop, it is actually really well built so it has been very useful. It will be Ervin Highland Farms HQ. We plan to add the rabbits to the outside of this opening, so that we can bring the rabbits inside to snuggle and play with the kids and I, in an enclosed space.
Peter at the rabbit Farm
We are so blessed with this opportunity to raise our own food, teach our children, and live in the beautiful country of the Ozark Mountains. Let me be clear that we are not driving this crazy train. We have decided to follow where He leads and are constantly praying and listening to his voice inside. There are parts of our journey that I will share that have been a lot less glamorous than bringing home fuzzy bunnies.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3