Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Off to the Show:)

This will be my last post until next Monday because I am leaving early in the day on Friday and won't have access to a computer. I am charging the camera batteries as I speak so that I will be ready to take pictures to post on this blog and elsewhere, and all in all I am extremely excited to take part in this fabulous weekend with lots of bunnies and great company:).

As many people are aware by now, the PA Convention has become the largest rabbit show on the East coat. Last year there were over 6,000 rabbits entered and shown in each show, and this year promises to be an even bigger show with over 40 specialties and a hugely anticipated turnout. The list of judges for this show is long and impressive, and Pangora (who is hosting both Angora specialties this year) has managed to secure Randy Schumaker and Heather Litchfield, both of whom are highly skilled judges with a great deal of experience in the wool breeds. As before we will have our own 'room' at the convention again---a large hall devoted to wool breeds of every description from Lionheads to Fuzzy Lops to Angoras, with a well-planned judging area and plenty of room for carriers, bunny supplies, and grooming tables:).

I am only bringing 6 rabbits to the show this year because I will be busy with secretary duties and I have umpteen carriers of sale babies to cram into the car as well:). I will be looking forward to meeting friends that I haven't seen in awhile and catching up on all the latest news and bunny stuff.

Have a GREAT weekend, and I will report the news/results on Monday:-)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Current Events and (Still More) Sale Stuff

I am already spending heaps of time this week running around like a nut and getting ready for the show next weekend. It is my typical anal, pre-show ritual:-). Yesterday my dh helped me tattoo 10 bunnies and I printed off their pedigrees, and this weekend I also culled approx. 8 other rabbits to thin things out in the barn and make room for the next wave of breedings after the show. I've got about 8-10 does to breed in the next month or so so I have been planning those combinations as well, and yesterday I also weaned the last of Sadako's litter, so we will see how those cuties turn out in the next few weeks too:).

The FA/NZ Cross babies I bred earlier this winter did not live up to my expectations unfortunately, so I had to cull them. Their wool was actually nice quality which was great, but the types on them were just not outstanding enough to qualify them as keepers (in other words, they were nowhere near as beautiful as their mother in the depth department, LOL!). I will breed Echo again along with the other does I am planning when I get back from the show, but this time I will use a different buck to see if she meshes better with another genotype:). Wish me luck!

Also, I wanted to announce that I am adding a Tort Jr. buck to the group of babies I am bringing to PA for sale. I had originally decided to hold onto him, but I changed my mind last night when I decided that I would just repeat the entire breeding and not worry about keeping anything out of this one right now. This baby is out of the same litter as the other Fawns who were sired by Dijon and Morwenna. I have also decided to sell Spang's Cedric, who is a REW GC with 5 legs. Cedric is a little over a year old (DOB--11/23/06) proven, and his picture can be found 2 posts ago here in the entry for Jan. 23. This boy is a nice rabbit, but since I already have his brother, Dijon, he doesn't get used as much as he ought to be, so he may as well make himself useful somewhere else and spread his seed where it will do other bunnies some good:-).

Anyway, more stuff again on Wednesday. I am trying to get myself organized here and stay on top of the normal kid/rabbit/work schedule that goes on each day on top of that, so ideas are slim and the days are inching closer into crunch- zone territory, LOL. So far (by some profound, unexplained miracle) everyone I intend to enter is still eating and holding their coats, but like any breeder who lives by superstition and walks on paper-thin eggshells the days and weeks before a show, I am still in complete denial that anyone will ever make it and knocking wood anywhere I see it just in case:-D:-D

More later and have a great week!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Big, Bigger, Biggest:)

Just for fun, I thought tonight I would compare a few pics I took of adults over the past several months as their coats were growing in. I had some more pictures to add of REW rabbits, but since I didn't label the pics as I took them it became difficult to tell who was who, so I decided to leave them out, LOL.

The first series here is of Spang's Juno, who was clipped at the end of September (sorry about the yellow background, it is not the best color for highlighting Fawn and Torts:( ). It is really interesting to see how the wool has grown in from the beginning frame by frame. I think that if the pictures could have been done very technically on specific dates by a very talented photographer it would have been possible to capture the actual wool growth patterns on each rabbit:).

Next pictured here is Spang's Dijon, of whom there are only 3 pictures. He was last clipped on October 2 and again, if these pictures were better it would be alot easier to spot the differences in wool growth from one frame to another. The lighting is not the same here or in the pictures shown above which makes it harder to see the details, but we can still get a general idea of the way an FA coat fills out.

More again next Monday on other fun subjects:-). Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Here is a list of bunnies that will be available for sale at the PA State Convention in Lebanon, PA on February 2-3. There are two litters represented. Parent information is listed below:

Spang's Morwenna-GC Tort Doe with 3 legs and Red/White Pedigree (picture below)

Spang's Dijon--GC Fawn Buck with 6 legs and Red/White/Blue Pedigree (pictured below):

Spang's Nereida--soon to be registered and shown. Blue doe (will have R/W/B Pedigree) Pictured below with 2 1/2 months wool growth:

Spang's Cedric--GC REW buck with 5 legs and R/W/B Pedigree (pictured below):

Babies shown below are from Morwenna and Dijon's litter (at age 11 weeks). 4 Fawns will be available--2 does/ 2 bucks, and 1 REW doe (several Fawns and REW doe pictured below):

Babies pictured below are from Nereida and Cedric's litter (at age 9 weeks). There will be 1 Black buck and several REWs available (does and bucks). Picture of Black buck and 1 of the REWs shown below:

These babies will be priced at $100.00 each. All are showable, all will have R/W/B pedigrees when registered, and all have anywhere from 9 to 11 Grand Champions listed on 3 generation pedigrees. All babies are sound and in excellent health, and come from an exclusively linebred herd. Please contact me with questions or details at

Monday, January 21, 2008

Experiments in Freezing:)

Several winters ago my kids (and I) decided to embark on an experiment having to do with the rate of water freezing in specific types of containers. Since the kids were young at that time we did not conduct it as scientifically as we might have (next time I think we'll try to use identical sized containers and put metal thermometers into each one, etc.), but we did manage to clearly see results based on our observations by checking the containers every 15 min. to detect changes/freezing rates.

Since many breeders are in the midst of frigid temperatures right now it seems like a good time to review the results that we got so many years ago. Even though many people probably realize this already and have long since put it into practice, I will post it here again just for fun and review:).

We were interested to find out if the rate of water freezing was significantly affected by the material that the holding container was made out of---in other words---would water freeze faster in containers that were made out of metal, ceramic, or plastic?

To test our ideas (actually "hypotheses", since we are being technical---every kid had their own idea of what would freeze first:)), we set three containers out on the back porch. One container was plastic, the other was made of ceramic, and the third was made out of metal (all three were rabbit crocks). Just for fun I also set out a water bottle tilted upside down in the same position that it would be hanging in a rabbit cage.

Again, this was NOT an experiment that could be considered totally technical because the containers were not exactly the same size/depth/capacity, and all things were not 100% equal, but we did pour the same amount of room temperature water into each one (measured out), and we set them all out into 15 degree weather at the same time.

Predictably, the first container to freeze up instantly was the zip tube on the water bottle. It took a mere 15 minutes to freeze to the point where it was practically impossible to get any water out of it, yet the water in the bottle was still liquid and fully thawed .

The second dish to freeze up was the metal one, which lasted longer than the bottle but not as long as the ceramic or plastic dishes. A little while later the ceramic began to freeze, and the dish that wound up lasting nearly twice as long as everything else was the plastic crock (the lock croc/ twist crock type), and it was such an obvious winner that I decided to use plastic exclusively every winter in my rabbitry from that point on:).

Again, this test could have been performed to get more definite results (it could have been timed better with the temperature of the water measured precisely, etc.), but I have found in the barn just from plain old observation that plastic seems to stay liquid for at least 2 hours even in the coldest temperatures as long as it is filled up with warm water initially, and it is very easy to re-liquify during the day if I add a layer of very hot water to the top to thaw them out later on. Also, ceramic has the potential to crack and break if water freezes inside it, and metal can actually get 'sticky' with cold if drips of water freeze onto the outside where bunnies can brush up against it with their wool.

One type of container that we did NOT test but that many people rave about in the winter is the rubber dish. I don't know how long the water stays liquid in containers of this type, but the great thing about rubber is supposed to be that you can simply flip it over, stomp on it (or twist it), and the ice will pop right out. Rubber dishes are not often available in small sizes, but if you can find them it may be worth a trial in the rabbitry.

In summary (since we ARE being semi-scientific here:)), the results of this test indicate that it is NOT a good idea to use water bottles in the wintertime. If you have an automatic watering system there may be ways to stop zip tubes from freezing, but with standard, run of the mill Lixit bottles there is no sure way to keep them thawed long enough for a rabbit to get an ample supply of water. You are better off switching to crocks completely in winter, preferably plastic or (maybe) rubber. Around here we usually use the 20 oz. twist crocks because they are so easy to twist off and dump into a bucket to thaw, and they are easy to stack up and bring outside. The Loc Crocs are great also, but there is always the chance (usually when it is 20 below zero:)) of that little knob/washer falling out of your cold fingers onto the floor and rolling underneath the cages never to be seen in the world again, LOL. I prefer the crocks with no tiny parts:).

Anyway, more on Wednesday when I will post pictures of the bunnies who will be for sale at the PA Convention and a few other things. Have a great week!:-)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Kids in the Rabbitry

Over the last several weeks my three wonderful boys, Brandon, Keith, and Jonathan, have been helping me out in the rabbitry. They get into bed early the night before, and then I wake them at the crack of dawn before the sun comes up to go out and tackle the morning chores. We have chickens (the remaining few that are left after the mink episode:( ), but the bulk of the work right now involves the rabbits---dumping and refilling feed and water dishes, thawing them if necessary, passing out hay, knocking poop out from under the cage floors, and sweeping up the floor when the whole thing is finished.

The guys have done a great job since they started. They have been very careful to keep cage doors latched when transporting dishes back and forth, and they have definitely gotten the hang of keeping adventurous, over-curious babies from spilling out over the edge of the cage door, LOL. They have begun to realize how important it is to be meticulous when caring for animals because if you are careless or overlook one on any particular day, someone could go without water or miss out on critical early care if a medical problem suddenly pops up. They figured out all by themselves that it was a good idea to first dump the dishes and refill them, but then to start again at the beginning to check every cage systematically in order to make sure that no one got missed. I continue to measure the food out to make sure everyone gets the right ration, but Jonathan (my youngest) pours it out into the dishes himself and then squeals everytime the ravenous babies push him out of the way to jump into the pile and dig in:).

Here is a picture of Keith (age 10) carefully unscrewing a water dish:

And this is Jonathan (age 8) tending to one of Morwenna's babies:

This is Brandon (age 13) who is tall enough to reach the top cages now and generally adopts the same section of the rabbitry to take care of each morning.

All in all it has been a ton of fun having the kids come out with me every morning and best of all, it has cut the time that it takes to do chores in half:-). Once the weather gets warmer (and running water becomes readily available again) I plan on teaching them the glories of pan dropping (!!) and other fabulous rabbit activities, but by then the garden will be starting and we will have chickens again too (I hope), and there will not be enough hours in the day to take care of every little thing:(.
Children and animals are a match made in heaven, IMO. Many farmers and livestock people have their children out way younger than I do, but there is nothing like the cause and effect of livestock raising to teach them common sense, logic, consideration, attention to detail, and responsibility. It's a time-honored, wonderful way to grow up:).
More next Monday, and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Upcoming Sale Babies

With all the craziness at work lately I haven't had the chance to sort out the latest babies here, but as soon as the weekend rolls around I will be going through each and every guy/gal bunny and begin posting details about those who will be for sale at the PA State Convention (Feb. 2 and 3). I plan on bringing anywhere from 6 to 10 bunnies along in addition to my normal show rabbits on that weekend, so I will post pictures and information about each one here as soon as I can.

The cold weather is coming in also this week and soon I will re-post the results of an experiment that my kids and I performed several years ago involving freezing water dishes (since that problem seems particularly relevant at the moment:( ). Also, there will be more pictures coming up of both babies and adults.

I have transferred alot of the links that were on my old blog to this one now and I will be ready to delete the old one shortly (I know I said that already but my work schedule is to blame for all the things that are late so please be patient, LOL!!<:)). I am still figuring out how to work this blog but the remaining issues are pretty much finished, so if I am lucky I may even be able to figure out how to make a custom template for it someday (I hope:).

More again on Friday----best of luck hauling frozen water dishes back and forth to those of you who are in the freezing temperature zones. Remember that Spring is 'only' 2 months away!:-) :-(

Monday, January 14, 2008

Magnetic Carrier Labels

Today was a snow day so it looks like no work again, but that is okay because there are lots of things to do, not the least of which is posting a blog entry here:). I have been busy this week making magnetic carrier labels which I am going to test out for the first time at the PA Convention in 3 weeks, so I figured I would post the instructions here in case anyone was interested. The good thing about magnetic labels is that they are 100% reusable, and can be stored away between shows and switched from carrier to carrier as needed. They are superior to paper labels made the night before the show just because they can be popped on at the last minute and you don't have to spend time writing everything out when it is 11:00PM and you have to get up at 2:00AM the next morning to pack rabbits and head out, LOL. The bad thing about magnetic labels is that the sheeting you use might not be as secure as tape or some other means of attachment. I noticed that the ones I made slid around a little and were not as difficult to pry off as I'd hoped they'd be, which means that they could potentially detach at a show, leaving you in a quandry if you do not have ear numbers memorized or haven't brought rabbits of different colors. My solution to that (that I will use at the next show) will be to put the labels on the sides of the cages so that they do not rub off when they are stacked in the car, and then transfer them to the tops as soon as I get to the showhall for easier i.d. To create magnetic carrier labels, you first have to get ahold of 'magnetic sheeting' which is readily available at craft stores and online at a good price (I ordered a bunch recently that should last me awhile and be good for a variety of uses). Here is an example of magnetic sheeting:

Next, you need to print off labels with your computer in a fairly large, easy to read, bold-faced font. I made 3 labels for each color/age classification because that is the most I usually bring to a show at any given time (actually I usually bring much fewer than that, but it is good to have extras around).
Now, if you really wanted to get fancy you could take these labels to the office store to get them laminated and make them last longer (or at least have them stay cleaner), but I left mine plain for now.

Btw, PLEASE ignore the frazzled sleeves on my sweatshirt in these last 2 photos. These are rabbit clothes, so no explanation should be needed, LOL.

Cut your labels out into squares and then cut sheeting to match the precise size of each one. Glue can be used to affix the labels to the sheets, or you can use sticky tape, whichever choice works best. Here are a few labels that are finished:

Last of all, here is the magnet attached to the carrier cage wire and the project is complete.

As I said before, there are lots of variations that could be used here---it might even be possible to find sheeting with one sticky side to make it easier to put the labels on (I am not very saavy in the craft department but that seems like something that should be available). Also, magnetic labels could be used in your home rabbitry on standard sized cages, provided that they are in a place where the rabbits can't chew on them. I have stainless steel plates on each of the cages in my barn so these would be easy to put on, peel off and interchange as needed. I will probably try to think of other uses for them as well.

This is just one helpful organizational technique that may come in handy when transportating rabbits or taking them to shows. In the past, I used labels that simply had the name of the rabbit written on them, but I stopped doing it like that because it became confusing to look at the name and then translate that info. into what class the rabbit belonged to. By just putting the class name down instead I don't have to stop, think, or confuse myself (which happens very easily at a fast moving show), and it gives me one less thing to worry about during the course of the day.

More bunny stuff on Wednesday! I hope that the weather is not too extreme where you are and the buns are growing wool like wildfire:).

Monday, January 7, 2008

Fawn Baby

As I explained a few weeks back (on my blog or the FA list---can't quite remember which:(), I have been coming up with alot of Fawns in my rabbitry lately. It didn't come about so much out of a love for the color Fawn, though it is a very nice color, but rather because I have been diligently stripping my herd of the Steel gene for the past several months, and Fawn is one of those colors that does not carry the gene.

Fawn is a beautiful variety if it is clear, clean, and smut-free, but it can get extremely muddy looking if the rabbit in question is black-factored (particularly), and it is difficult to get any of the colors in the Wideband category (Fawn, Red, Cream, etc.) 100% free of smut. Some breeders accomplish cleaner rabbits by breeding Chocolate factored animals into their Red/Fawn lines because while that practice does not get RID of the smut, it makes it lighter and more difficult to see. Others simply breed Red/Red, Fawn/Fawn over a long period of time, culling for clean color as they go.

My own Fawns so far have been black-based, unfortunately, so clean golden color has not been a regular feature here, LOL. If I should decide to stick with this variety after all the Steel has been stripped out I will definitely buckle down and do what I can to fix this, though for now I am settling for Steel-less rabbits with good type and wool first, and then I will tackle the color details later.

So anyhow, I took pictures today of one Fawn bunny who was born into a litter this winter who miraculously has almost NO smut so far. Of course, it is totally true that rabbits almost always get smuttier as they get older, so the fact that he doesn't have it now does not necessarily mean that he will not have it later (and therefore, I am trying not to get too excited, LOL). This particular bunny is nearly 8 weeks old, and is out of Nereida (Blue doe) and Cedric's litter (REW buck). Nereida seems to always throw wonderful color in her litters, and though this is Cedric's first breeding, he seems able to do the same thing (I hope). I took a number of photos of this little bunny's face, ears, and back so everyone could see the color, and next week I will take the Fawns out of Morwenna's litter (who are weaned and separated into individual cages), and post pictures of them so that the difference between each will be clear (Morwenna's Fawns are much darker and smuttier:).

Here are two pictures of the bunny's face:
Oops!! For some reason the pictures are only hooking onto the top of this post so rather than take the time to figure out what's the matter right now I will just leave them and explain each one from here, LOL.
The top two pictures are of the bunny's ears, the second is of the back of the bunny (you can see that nice, golden color), and the last pictures are head-on views of the bunny where you can see that the face is quite clear and clean at this point.
Well, we will see how it goes over the next several months and if I wind up holding this baby longer (if the type and wool are good), I will post periodic pictures of it's face, ears, etc, to see how the smut progresses:).
More stuff again next week when I will go back to posting 3 times a week again (by which time I hope to have this new blog and it's pictures completely figured out, LOL). Have a FABULOUS week and please remember that I will be deleting my old blog on Typepad shortly and my new, permanent address from now on will be