Friday, March 2, 2012

A Rabbit Day

Today has been a rabbit day. 

It all started out with finding a yummy-sounding recipe for "Rabbit ginger soup" over at Jenna Woginrich's blog. Skimming through the list of simple ingredients, I figured this would be an excellent way to cook up my last rabbit that I had in the freezer. I had been putting it off for a while, since the rabbit was a 6 month old (normally you butcher at 12 weeks; this guy was a cull), I had no idea what to do with the meat so that it wouldn't end up being tough. So soup it was! If you are new to eating rabbit, or you're trying to win someone over as to how delicious this meat is, I very highly recommend this recipe!!  

In short, lunch was awesome. Five star, two thumbs up, third helpings all around, kind of awesome. ;) Normally I'm not a huge fan of ginger, but it was such a small amount that it contrasted surprisingly nice with the garlic. I had some grand plans to take a picture of my lovely ensemble, but -- I forgot. I was too busy eating it...  Hehe. But if you ever find yourself with some rabbit meat, throw some ginger soup together! The smell alone is to die for.

Lunch having been digested, I next set out to put nestboxes in the doe's cages. You're supposed to put the nestboxes in on day 27 of gestation, but *cough, cough*, I -- um -- didn't have any nestboxes at that time.... So they were put in today, on day 30!! Thank heavens the does didn't kindle early! I love watching them start nesting. They get huge mouthfuls of hay and awkwardly try to place each bundle in precisely the right spot. Then they give up, scratch it all into a mound and start over. Over, and over, and over. Rosie Cotton hasn't started nesting quite yet, so she may wait until the last minute (I hate it when they do that though... I have no forewarning!). 

Walking back up to the house, I thought about the breed that a friend of mine, and I created years ago... We were both in 4-H (I think I was maybe 14?), and we created what we considered the "ultimate" meat rabbit. We called them "Checapalizealhosatins". Can you say that? "Check-a-pali-zea-lo-satins. ;) LOL. These strange hybrids were a motley collection of bloods that included Checkered Giant, Californian, Palomino, New Zealand, Hotot, and Satin. The name derives from all of these breeds being squashed together into one long spiel of letters. 

Our goal was to create a fine-boned animal that had hybrid vigor, grew quickly on a forage diet, and would hit 5 lbs. by 6-7 weeks. We line bred, cross bred, inbred (only slightly), and played with genetics. I LOVED it. We worked through generations of rabbits, over a period of years, and then finally, we realized that we were in the "perfecting" stage. We had what we were after, and now we just had to fine-tune it.

Below is what our breed looked like. They all had a spinal stripe, solid colored ears, a butterfly smut (nose marking), eye rings, and they came in black and blue colors. I was partial to the blue, personally. :)

This first fella' is Domino. He was our favorite buck, and threw awesome traits to his offspring. I think he was probably the closest we got to our standard...

Here is a litter that Domino sired. If I remember correctly, this was a line breeding to either his daughter, or a half daughter...

 My friend and I were pleased as punch over our work, and I remember spending late nights looking over their pedigrees, deciding whom to breed to whom next, so as to continue to improve them. Alas, the breed didn't last long, or receive the glory we dreamed of. It turns out that in all of our line and inbreeding, the males seemed to all have a genetic fault, in which when they hit 3-4 years of age, they would suddenly die. Poor Domino had that fate, and we started seeing the same thing happen with other bucks of ours. To this day, I still don't know what on earth caused that, but upon the realization of our problem we took the slash-and-burn route in our breeding. We exterminated our entire herd. All of them. They're extinct now. And I rather regret that. Now that I'm older, I wish we had kept some stock, maybe some does, and continued to breed them, and figure out what the genetic fault was. Live and learn, I suppose.

 But as I walked back up to the house today, thinking of our breed that we created, I realized just how much I missed that. Playing with genetics and mixing breeds. It makes me happy to know that I'll be doing it again soon, now that I have litters coming that will be mixes of New Zealand, Californian, and Beverens. Gotta' love rabbits... ;)


Andezrabbitry said...

Upon browsing your lil blog here i looked up rabbits and who do I see? low and behold... Domino :) I can still remember when he was born... I remember when I gave him to you to :) He was a good bunny :) and a great herd sire :) I wonder what that genetic fault was? Well I hope all is well in the bunny world :)
and thank you for sharing pictures of Domino.... is it a bit pathetic I almost teared up looking at pictures of him? It reminds me of good times so long ago :)

Do you still Have Clem? I still have Cali :)

~Andrea H

Goat Song said...

You still have Cali? Really?? ;) I sold Clem a couple years ago, but I seriously regret doing it... She was an awesome doe.