Raising Meat Rabbits: Our Setup So Far

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So it’s been a little over three months since we got our first New Zealand White rabbits.  We were able to find two 8 week old does and a 12 week old buck for $10 each via craigslist. Our plan is to get two more does in the near future for a total of 4 does and a buck.

Our beginning setup was a wood hutch that we got off of craigslist and refurbished (I use this term loosely: hubby-to-be basically replaced everything but the floor joists). The initial plan was to use this hutch until we could build two larger ones from scratch but it soon became apparent that wood hutches were not only pricey to build right but were hard to keep clean, not to mention the amount of chewing they would be subjected to. We decided in the long run that stacked cages were the way to go for the setup we wanted. We quickly came to the realization that purchasing said cages new was not in our budget and set about looking for used ones.

We were able to find seven 36″x30″ cages with stacking legs on craigslist for $150. The cages were nice and solid when we got them but in pretty rough cosmetic condition.

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We decided to replace all of the floors with new wire. Then we sanded, primed and painted the cages and legs with black Rustoleum paint. The last step was reassembling each stack of three and adding a wheeled base made of 2’x4’s. We also added sets of metal urine guards from Bass Equipment. Bottles, feeders and pans were all purchased at Tractor Supply.

The end result, while in our budget, certainly wasn’t cheap but it fits the space we have to work with and is easy to clean and maintain. We hope to make it work for several years with minimal maintenance.

Here’s the official before and after:

Cages Before and After

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of the companies mentioned in this post, all products were purchased by me, all opinions are my own.

Shared with: Homestead Barn Hop

Rendering Tallow

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If someone had told me just a year ago that I would be worrying about losing a finger while chopping up a huge chunk of beef fat I might have died laughing, but guess what I did just yesterday? Yep I rendered my own tallow. After seeing several blog posts addressing real food and cooking with tallow I decided to go for it. After securing a 5 lb chunk of suet from my local farm market I got to work.

The first thing I did was let the suet thaw for a couple of days in the fridge as it was frozen solid. Several people mentioned that the suet is easier to grind and work with if it’s partially frozen but I found that mine was quite solid so I chose to work with it chilled but not frozen.

Then I chopped it up into medium sized pieces with a knife and ground it in a food processor until it was the consistency of ground meat. Next I dumped all of the ground suet into a crock pot and cooked it on low. My suet only took about 3 hours to render but length of time varies based on the amount of tallow being rendered. You know it’s done when you have semi clear liquid with little hard bits floating on the top.

All that’s left to do at this point is too strain the tallow through a cheesecloth lined colander and pour it into a mason jar or other heat safe container to cool overnight. Once your tallow cools it will turn a milky white and be solid at room temperature. At this point you can either store it in the refrigerator for several months or freeze it for up to a year.

Homemade Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam

After seeing a post on strawberry jam by City Boy Hens I was inspired to can some of my own. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly the whole process went. Within 2 hours I was able to can 8 pints of jam (in 2 batches per the recipe).

Start by trimming and washing your strawberries then make sure they are well drained.  I got 8 pints of jam from 5 pounds of strawberries.

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Then mash the berries in a large bowl. I only mashed mine lightly since I prefer a chunkier jam. The more you mash the smoother it will be.

Mash Berries

Next transfer berries to a large pot, add pectin and bring to a boil. Then add the sugar a cup at a time. Once all sugar is added return to a hard boil for 1 minute.

Add pectin & sugar

Next remove your jam from heat and stir for 5 minutes. This is supposed to help keep the jam from separating. After stirring is complete you can pour the jam into hot, sterilized jars and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.  After processing is complete remove jars carefully and let cool overnight.

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Lastly confirm all seals are good and store.

Link to recipe I used: http://cityboyhens.com/food/canning/strawberry-jam/