Monday, June 9, 2014

We Have A Winner!

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a pleasant weekend.

I'm excited to announce the winner of Acorn and Thistle's first ever giveaway: Madeline Edwards!
Congratulations, Madeline! Please email me or send me a private message on Facebook with the address you'd like me to send your prize to. A big Thank You to everyone who participated, as well- I received a bunch of really good questions, and I'm looking forward to answering them all, as best I can.

Madeline's question was "What do you do with the parts of the rabbits that you don't process into food, since you can't compost them?"

For me, it's important that I use as much of the animal as I possibly can. At this point in time, all that's left when I finish processing are the inedible guts, feet and heads. Those go out to the farthest part of our property and get buried a couple of feet down so as not to attract any attention from dogs or other animals. So, in that regard, they do get composted, just not in my main garden pile.

We keep the pelts and dry them. I'd like to learn more about tanning, and it's on my list of things to work on. I'm not overly keen on some of the chemicals that get used though, so I'm still researching different methods to see what will work. (The idea of brain tanning, which is a common way to treat small animal hides, freaks me out. Not so much the idea of using the brain- it's the getting it out that makes me uncomfortable.)
Anyway... for now, I tack them to a pallet and let them air dry for a day or so, and then salt them heavily. I was reading about bark tanning recently, so the batch I have drying now are coated with a paste of salt and hemlock/red alder bark "tea".  This is my first try with that, so we'll see how it goes.

I pull the livers, kidneys and hearts out and cook them up for the dogs. I know there are folks out there who love them- apparently rabbit liver is great, if you like liver... but I'm not a huge fan. I keep a bag in the freezer that I put veggie scraps in- carrot ends, celery trimmings, onion bits... that sort of thing - for making stock. So, I put the organs in my crock pot with the veggie scraps and covered them with water, then let them simmer overnight. I chopped up the meat with my food processor, and the dogs get a little of that with their dry food. The stock was strained, and will be used as "gravy" for their dry dinners as well as for making some dog biscuits.

And that's about it, for us. There may be other uses out there, that I'm either not aware of or ready to try, but to me, it feels like very little gets wasted. We'll get several meals out of one rabbit, as will our dogs. And the trees in the "back 40" also benefit from a little extra microbial action while the last little bits break down.

Does anyone else have anything to add? I'd be curious to hear if there are any other uses for the parts we don't keep.

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