Monthly archives "June 2012"

Raising Rabbits & Making a Rabbit Tractor Workshop!

Title: Raising Rabbits & Making a Rabbit Tractor Workshop!
Location: Beautiful LTD Farm
Description: Rabbits are a great source of sustainable protein, and they are easy and enjoyable to raise, even on your small urban lot. For the first hour or so, we will discuss obtaining your rabbit stock, feeding, health care, housing, breeding, and raising kits. We will then harvest and butcher a rabbit. The last hour we will discuss pasturing rabbits and then build a rabbit tractor with a few materials you can buy from your local hardware store. This class will give you all the information you need to go home and start raising rabbits right away!

$50 per person
Start Time: 13:00
Date: 2012-08-11
End Time: 15:00

Open House in August!!!

Title: Open House in August!!!
Location: LTD Farm
Description: Come visit the farm! We’ll be showing you around and talking how and why we farm like we do. Duck eggs, vegetables, and goatmilk soaps will be available for purchase.
RSVP for directions and let us know how many are coming with you. 1-4pm on Sunday Aug 5th. farmers (at) ltdfarm.com
Thanks!
Khaiti & Andrew
Start Time: 13:00
Date: 2012-08-05
End Time: 16:00

The Last Cheesemaking Workshop for 2012

Title: The Last Cheesemaking Workshop for 2012
Location: LTD Farm
Description: Come see LTD Farm and learn to make Cheese! You’ll taste and learn how to make Creamy Chevre, Feta cheese, Indian Paneer, Farmers cheese, Ricotta and fresh Mozzarella. We’ve been making goat cheese for over 6 years, with many unique techniques developed over the seasons. You’ll go home with recipes & a starter culture! $60 per person. Email to RSVP- farmers (at) LTDFarm.com
Start Time: 12:00
Date: 2012-07-29
End Time: 15:00

bunny bonanza

“I took your suggestion and used my raspberry-ginger brew in my slow cooker and the meat fell off the bone.

It is fat-free and very dense.

I stir-fried some scallions, China choy, and beet tops with ginger and garlic in sesame oil and topped the rabbit with teriyaki sauce.

I have enough for lunch today and tomorrow and more bunny goodness for later this week.

I wish I had picked up another, as I love pork ribs with sauerkraut and potatoes, and this would be another perfect white meat for that German comfort food.”

-Terry, LTD Farm Customer and CSA Farmshare Member

Now that we’ve raised a few rabbits in our rabbit tractor and sold them to our appreciative customers, we feel much more confident about this project. We have a few more litters almost ready to go out on pasture, and it is really a great feeling to be able to give these bunnies a really good life in the short time they are with us, with grass to nibble and good cool earth to lay on. We keep the breeding stock, 1 buck and 4 does, in our shed in cages for now, for a few reasons. One is that we need to be able to make sure they have plenty of food and water and have good appetites. We need to be able to breed them on a schedule, and we need to monitor and take care of newborn kits for a few weeks as well. We also like to collect their poop from under the cage and are using that as our primary source of fertilizer in the garden this year.

Now that we’ve started this project, we want to sit back and figure out if it makes sense to continue.

Here are the pros of rabbit raising:

  1. They provide these products: meat, fur, and fertilizer
  2. They are herbivores and can survive on food inedible to humans, i.e. grass, twigs, weeds, hay, leftovers
  3. They have a feed conversions ratio (how much feed per pound of meat produced) of 3-4:1 versusĀ  2:1 for chickens (which are fed mostly grains), and 8:1 for cows
  4. They are quiet and don’t require a lot of space, although like all animals they will enjoy as much space as you can give them
  5. Butchering them takes 1/2 the time as butchering a chicken does for us, and we’re getting better at it every time
  6. Rabbit meat (lapin) is dense and fine grained, has the most protein of any livestock meat, has less cholesterol then any other livestock meat, and is low in calories
  7. Lapin can be used in any dish that calls for chicken. As consummate chefs we will be experimenting with lapin to see where it really shines.
  8. We are two hungry people, and one 2-3 pound rabbit provided us with two meals and a snack. We don’t really know how that happened, but it proved that the dense lapin meat made us feel fuller with less empty calories.
  9. Rabbits are intelligent and inquisitive; Momma rabbits and their kits are delightful to watch and be around.
  10. They are not fazed with cold weather, and can breed year round.
  11. Each of our does can provide us with more then 10 times the amount of their body weight per year, i.e. one 10 pound doe can have up to 5 litters a year, at 8 kits per litter. That’s about 40 kits a year, and at 3 pounds each, she will produce about 120 pounds of meat. That’s a good size pigs worth of food right there, all from one momma, and all contained in a space smaller then the footprint of a compact car.
  12. Their poop comes in a convenient dry pelletized form: organic fertilizer at it’s best.

The Cons:

  1. They are fazed by hot and humid weather, and may suffer from heatstroke or miscarriages.
  2. You do have to clean their cages and nest boxes every now and then.
  3. They can be keen on escaping, and aren’t too fond of humans or hubbub. Unlike chickens, cows, or pigs, once a rabbit escapes, they are probably gone for good. One reason could be that they are closer to their wilder relatives then chickens or pigs.
  4. Some people think they are too cute to eat.
  5. They do have sharp teeth and claws.
  6. They are prey animals to most everything stalking around your house looking for a meal. But so are chickens.

The positives definitely the small list of negatives. When looked at in light of other animal’s negatives, they are certainly an easy and pleasant animal to keep. The only thing that is making it more difficult for us is that we are attempting to raise the rabbits on pasture. This eliminates the convenience and safety factor that caged animals bring to the farmer, but we think it is by far the best way to raise all of our animals; near the nourishing ground, in the sun and rain, with the green grass and bugs.

As we go on prototyping our rabbit raising experiment, we will continue to share with you what works and what doesn’t. Meanwhile, if you would love to taste this unique new pasture based food, please email us at farmers@ltdfarm.com to get on the lapin list.

storms, rabbits and dinner

Farmers in southern MN got nailed with flash floods and hail in the past few days. Our hearts go out to them. Farming is so dependent on smooth sailing in the weather department, which is completely out of anyone’s hands. Covering your bases by running a diversified farm is one way to spread the risk factor out a little. Still, a tornado could wipe EVERYTHING out in seconds. You can’t live in fear though, we farmers must persevere. There are mouths to feed, but take a moment to realize how hard farming is for the farmers. No farms, no farmers- no food.

fermented pickled radishes

rhubarb juice

We’ve been busy tending our food in the works. The garden is insanely beautiful, lush plant growth coming from well nourished strong roots. We have our animals to thank for completing the cycle! Without the pigs tilling last summer, the goats deep bedding that was composted in the garden over winter, and the ducks laying down a nice layer of fertilizer in the hoophouse, our plants would be starving for nourishment. Some farmers use soil tests, all kinds of amendments- but we just use lots of poop. The rabbit pellets get sprinkled about the cabbages and sweet corn, the ducks’ poop in the hoophouse is growing some massive tomato plants and causing our pepper plants to be loaded with fruit already! Goat poop bedding goes around the eggplants and garden tomatoes to slow-release and function as mulch, keeping the weeds down.

The LTD Farm rabbitry is bustling- we have 5 different litters right now. The 3 youngest groups of kits have just come out of their nests and are growing fast on momma’s rich milk. The 2 older groups of weaned kits are in their rabbit tractors, becoming grass-fed lapin. They are out in the fresh air, the sun and clover. It’s a wonderful way to raise meat rabbits in a happier, healthier way than stuffed into dark small spaces.

Last night we hosted a Dinner on the Farm. It was absolutely incredible. Such great people, such delicious food, such fun. We are very proud of our work here, the radiant health shining from our animals, and the nutritious beautiful food we grow and produce. Last night brought it all together. We’d highly recommend you check out one of the Dinners on the Farm this summer, check out www.dinneronthefarm.com

Andrew's Mom made this lovely display to greet the diners as they came up the path!

checking out the rabbits

we had a momentary downpour, thankfully a tent was in place just in case!

Duck barn update: We’re just about ready to move the ducks over, as soon as we get the water work done. There will be a frost-free hydrant inside the barn, so we will no longer be lugging buckets of water from the bathtub in the winter! Oh how very luxurious! The ducks are all doing very well and totally been digging the daytime rainstorms. Our Kickstarter ducklings are full grown and sassy. They’ll begin laying eggs in August and then well be able to have our delicious eggs available at a couple more co-ops.

Tomorrow we bid Khaiti’s sister Melanie adieu. She was our first “intern” experience, as she is very interested in farming compassionately. Mel did a great job helping out on the farm, and we also had some fun times making cheesecakes, attending farmer gatherings, eating all kinds of delicious meals that we prepared together, weeding and chatting, catching snakes and admiring the biodiversity of the land. Thanks Mel, we love you!