Sunday, October 7, 2012

From the Week

Wow, it's been a busy week! Matt started his job at precisely the moment that school kicked into high gear for me, resulting in a routine in which there are only two days per week when we are both home before dark. This week was particularly insane, with me in class on Friday night and all day yesterday, hence the lengthy radio silence.

I forgot to mention that I did make jalapeno jelly a few weeks ago. I used this recipe, and while it came out positively delightful, I would definitely reduce the sugar next time, probably by at least one cup.

I highly recommend it. It's particularly good with cheese and crackers, and on sandwiches that involve meat.

I also cut up our apple harvest, and put away several gallons of frozen apple pie filling.

Today was my one day at home for the week, and while I have a huge pile of homework lurking upstairs, I spent most of today outside. Our beautiful weather is continuing, although the nights are getting colder now.  Rain is in the forecast for next weekend; if we get it, it will be the first proper rain in three months.

We had baked colcannon for dinner one night this week. Definitely one to add to our menu plan on a more regular basis.

Matt and Elliot butchered all but two of the 8-week-old rabbits yesterday, and today I butchered my first rabbit (or any animal, ever, for that matter). WARNING: MODERATELY GORY PHOTOS OF BUTCHERING AHEAD. I know there are people who think it's insane to kill your own meat, let alone post photos of it, but in our society where the process behind meat and meat products is completely hidden from consumers, I think what we need is more visibility of the process. Strangely, it's completely acceptable to do your own butchering when it comes to hunting, but people seem to think it's weird and gross to butcher animals you raise yourself, and the smaller the animal, the more people get freaked out. It's certainly not something to be taken lightly, and we make sure to thank the rabbits and give them a last minute of cuddling and relaxation before they go, and it is distinctly difficult to watch the life go out of an animal's eyes. But if you eat meat than I think you need to be willing to see how the animal becomes meat, even if you don't actively participate. If you can't stomach the process, you probably shouldn't stomach the product. That said:

Matt did slaughtered and butchered the first one, so I could see how it was done.

I was a little nervous about getting the killing part right- it's a fairly tricky business and unfortunately it's relatively easy to break a rabbit's neck without killing it (the actual slaughtering is much easier on larger animals). So I asked Matt to kill mine for me, and after I've seen a couple more I will do it myself.
Here I had cut the head off, it was draining the blood and ready for skinning. 

Reflecting on it, the hardest part for me, apart from watching the killing, was the fact that the carcass was so warm the whole time I was processing it. I've cut up chickens and cut the skin from the meat, but the meat is always so cold that you don't necessarily get the sense that it was once alive, and of course there is no blood. It was also fascinating to see the insides and where the organs are and how they all fit together. I'm really glad I know how to do it now, and in a strange but satisfying way I look forward to being able to do the killing part too. Another skill in my self-sufficiency arsenal.

After putting the rabbits in the freezer and cleaning up, I worked on putting the veggie plots around the front yard to bed for the winter. I pulled out all the remaining tomato plants, and tilled it up and planted it in cover crops, along with some spinach and kale.

 I unhooked the drip hose and packed it up for the winter, and left the strip in the foreground (with the turning fork in it) alone- that is where we'll plant garlic later in the fall.

Now Matt is working on cleaning the house, and it's time for me to get a pot of chili and some cornbread going for dinner. Once that's done, I'll contemplate doing some schoolwork. It's just so good to be home today.


Heather said...

Thank you for sharing, Liz!
Jalapeno jelly - I just tried it last week for the first time. Great idea!
Thanks for sharing on the rabbit butchering. Do you do anything with their beautiful fur?

Liz said...

We don't want any part of the rabbits to go to waste, except there is little use for the guts. The heads and skins went immediately in the freezer, to go to a friend of Matt's who does brain tanning and makes clothing from furs. I would love to someday learn to cure the hides and make rabbit fur mittens & hats. We eat the hearts, livers, and kidneys, chopped and fried with lots of onion and garlic.

Laurel said...

Did you find a honey pot?