I have an issue.
And this issue is I never stop trying new things. Jack of many trades, master of none – as they say. That's me. I'll never be a great baker for this very reason. I prefer to learn to do things well enough, but never too perfect.
I'm sure this may drive some people crazy, but for me, it works.
That being said, I'm always on the hunt for new hobbies and new things to try and learn. Just like my vermicompost system, I'm mostly interested in pursuing hobbies that will be beneficial to the homestead self-sufficiency long term. Especially when it comes to food production.
Gardening is obvious. And I'm always trying to learn how to do this better. Speaking of which, remember those potatoes we planted a few weeks ago in the make-shift pallet box? They're sprouting! I'm hoping for a big ‘ol fat potato harvest from it. If it works well, we'll still have time for one or two more harvests before next winter. Puttin' up a bunch of potatoes would be AWESOME. The bonus is that the entire project only cost $2 in potato seed – so it could potentially be a very small investment for a large return.
All that being said, Stuart and I have been toying with the idea of building a few rabbit cages in the backyard as well. Yes, for meat rabbits.
Because we'd eventually like to raise the rabbits on a larger scale for meat, we thought it would be a great way to get our feet wet learning how to breed, feed, and butcher them.
From what I've read (and heard from my readers via Facebook), it's very easy to raise and breed the rabbits. What appeals to us primarily about rabbits right now is that we're able to butcher them easily (they don't have any feathers to pluck!) and they are quiet, so as not to bother the neighbors.
Plus they're very low maintenance. And with two little rascals, that's a very good thing.
On average, they say you can expect to harvest about 180 pounds of meat per year by purchasing two does (females) and one buck (male). The females will obviously be bred and will give birth to a litter of bunnies, which after being fed vegetable scraps, forage material, and grain, will be ready for harvest in about eight to ten weeks. It would be especially wonderful if we are able to grow containers of wheat grass to feed them (which should be very easy to do here) instead of buying hay. And as far as grains go, I could probably find a local source of oats or wheat. I'm not sure what other grains they'd like to eat.
Because rabbit meat is so lean, it's important that it is eaten along with other fatty goods, like butter, organ meats, beef, eggs, etc. If this was your only source of fatty protein, you'd be in trouble. But lucky for us, that isn't the case. We have plenty of fat in our diets and lean, inexpensive meat from the rabbits would be a great protein addition.
We could even learn to tan the hides and find a use for them. I love the idea of being able to utilize all of the animal.
Stuart's lovin' the idea of the rabbits. Which means I need to strike while the iron is hot. I've been trying to convince him we need chickens for months now, but heck – I'll take rabbits.
That being said.
Girlfriend needs some rabbit cages. We have a great spot for them, under the patch of bamboo that will provide shade and shelter from the rain. But I'm trying to figure out what sort of set-up will function best. Obviously, the buck will need to be separated from the does on occasion, and eventually the babies will need to be separated from the does as well. A multi-compartmental setup seems necessary. And in my frugal fashion, I'm currently trying to design one out of pallets and chicken wire.
Maybe something like this?
Awesomeness is about to happen.
I found this article to be extremely helpful in presenting a run-down of the entire process. Seems pretty straight forward. And really a great way to be slowly introduced to the practice of breeding and scheduling harvests accordingly.
I'll spent some time on our trip out West planning the housing and deciding on a breed, as well as figuring out where to order the does and buck from to start with.
Hopefully, in a few months time, we'll harvest our first batch of home-grown meat!
This is happening. And it's going to be rad.
Have YOU ever raised rabbits? Have any advice for me?!