Monday, February 25, 2008

Blog Schedule

Just to let everyone know, it looks like I will have to cut back my blogging schedule for a little while due to a super heavy work load and less and less time to concentrate on writing posts during the week:(.

As I have mentioned before I am a home teacher to kids in the local school districts who cannot attend classes for one reason or another, and while I have been doing this for over 15 years now, this is the first time I have gone back to an almost full-time schedule since before the kids were born. Aside from the stress of this job and the almost ridiculous schedule changes that accompany it (along with running back and forth to jobs, schools, and meetings), there are just not enough hours in the day to handle it, plus the educations of my own kids, plus the care of my rabbits, plus posting 3 times a week:(. As a result of all the craziness I am just going to cut back to posting once on the weekend at least until the school year is over, and then try to get back to more regular entries after that.

Hopefully the bunnies in all rabbitries are doing well after the long winter (especially in the north), and just remember that soon it will be time to plan breedings again and get those lazy does back in shape for litters:). I am looking forward to lots of new babies myself (and lots of time for grooming, cleaning, and evaluating this summer), and I also look forward to filling those empty cages that are laying dormant around the house, though I will probably be sorry I said that in a month (<BG>!). Best of luck for a great Spring and catch you bunny folks again on the weekend!:-)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Snow Babies

We've been buried in snow for about 2 days now in the Northeast. Here is what it looked like this morning outside the back door:

There a huge amount of white stuff out there, but it was a perfect day for grooming, so I pulled out Sadako's litter (now about 10 weeks old), and evaluated each of them for the first time. Sadako weaned a total of 6 babies (2 does and 4 bucks), and of the 6 it looks like the best were 2 REWs (a doe and a buck), and a Fawn buck who doesn't have the type of the REWs but seems to have the best balance and density overall. Everyone got a thorough grooming, nail clipping, and basic cleanup, so now I'll let them sit for another 2 weeks before deciding who stays and who goes, and then wait around anxiously for the next wave of litters. Pictured below are the REW buck (who is obviously more interested in the tabletop than posing, LOL), a Tort buck, and the REW doe, who sat very well considering it was her first time getting photographed:)

More stuff again next week as we wait for the snow to melt and get back to our normal work schedule outside. We ordered a huge number of chicks this spring who are due to arrive at the end of April to replace the ones we lost in our mink episode :(!!!), so I will have to take pictures of them also since they are all rare breeds, colorful to look at, and a very cheerful sight after a long, cold winter:-).
Have a great weekend! (and stay warm)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Slicker Brush Chronicles

As anyone who grooms anything knows, trusty tools are more important than practically anything else on earth---however---even the trustiest, best quality tools give up after miles of use and bite the dust too:(. The slicker of choice for 99.9% of Angora breeders at this point seems to be the Doggy Man series made by Miller's Forge. These nifty brushes come in several different sizes and are available through KW cages and some of the well known equipment companies, but the nice thing about them is that they have super, SUPER soft bristle beds with extra soft bristles that make grooming a breeze and result in next-to no wool being pulled out, which is a clear advantage when grooming for show or grooming any bunny whose owner wants to preserve the density of the coat. The single worst problem with Doggy Man brushes according to those who use them the most is that they have 2 part handles that tend to break almost religiously after several months of use. Two remedies that I have heard of to solve this problem include 1) wrapping the handles with multiple layers of tape (which also helps make a better grip on them), and 2) sticking part of a chopstick into the broken handle and hot gluing the bottom section back on. Dru Shepard and Linda Cassella are two English Angora breeders who contributed these tips recently. Dru told me about the taping several years ago at the RI Convention, and Linda told me about the chopstick at this year's PA Convention:). I remember that I wrapped all my brushes up with tape as soon as I got them and have never had broken handles as a result, but recently one of the smaller brushes did have THIS unexpected thing happen:

When I first noticed it I was completely mortified since I rely on these things so heavily, but Linda suggested that this could probably be fixed with hot glue too so I will attempt the surgery this weekend, and if it doesn't work or the brush does not seem strong enough I will simply go ahead and order another one. They are some of the best investments an angora breeder can make IMO, and well worth the money:).

Btw, if anyone out there has any good ideas for repairing or reinforcing brushes it would be wonderful if you could post them here in the comment section. I am sure there are tips out there that I and others have certainly never heard of and would be thrilled to hear since it is better to repair and reuse things whenever we can. I will bring this up on the FA list also to see if anyone has ideas there as well.

Have a fabulous week and hope all of you out there are enjoying the lunar eclipse tonight!

Til next time:-)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Spring Shows and Pics and Stuff

The first show of the season that I usually head to around here is in Fulton, at the end of March. This year it looks as though I may not make that one simply because I have only 2 rabbits in coat at the moment, and it is hard to justify the mileage and long distance for only 2 bunnies. Unfortunately, it seems, the price of gas has made it difficult to go to any but the biggest shows lately (where it is possible to pick up several legs for the price of one trip in one weekend), so unless I have a great entry lined up to justify a trip like that, it is better to stay home and breed, LOL.

I have a bunch of does pregnant here now, but the rest will not be bred until later in the Spring so that once one string of does has weaned their litters there will be another ready to kindle. It is much easier to breed everyone in waves because that way there aren't as many litters to keep track of at one time, and there is a better chance that cage space will be available once the first babies hit the age of 12 weeks and are ready to be moved out. Also, the brood does here typically get a month off after weaning before they are rebred, so if some have just weaned their litters, there are usually others who have lain "fallow" for the past 4 weeks who are ready to go again while the new ones rest, so it seems to work out okay.

Even if I don't make the Fulton show I will definitely be the Rhinebeck show in April because A) it is only a 1/2 hour away from my house and B) it is the show put on by my regular home club:-). I think there should be 4-6 rabbits ready by the time that one comes, along with several juniors out of Sadako's litter, possibly, and a few Sr. does.

Here are pictures of the only two rabbits I have in coat (or coming into coat) right now----Devaki and Nereida. Both need to be registered so they will definitely be present at the Rhinebeck show, and Lulu and Oomi (both also Sr. does) will hopefully be ready, too.
Pictured first is Nereida, with her one ear perpetually cocked to listen to the camera clicking:)

And this is Devaki, who is further along in coat but still has another month or so to go:

I will post again this week as I try to come up with more subjects to blog about in my fevered brain, LOL. February always seems to be the worst and most depressing month around here:(. Everyone is dragging their feet and still partially-hibernated, while animals and people alike are holding their breath and W-A-I-T-I-N-G for spring to come again, LOL. Hopefully things will warm up real soon and we will get to see green again. It will be wonderful to find dandelions everywhere for these poor, deprived bunnies:-)
Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sick Kids and Downed Wires

We just got our internet connection back after high winds hit the area four days ago and wiped out our cable wire, and on top of this our kids (and myself) decided to get sick with chest/head/ and stomach colds, LOL!

As soon as everything gets back to normal I will get some posting done. I did 6 breedings this weekend and hope to do more as the month of March begins. Once the first batches of babies arrive the Spring breeding schedule should be well underway and there should be little ones zipping around everywhere again (I hope:).

Happy Valentine's Day and have a great week. I will see you again soon!:-D

Monday, February 4, 2008

PA State Convention

Well, we got back from an exhausting but fabulous weekend last night, and even though the Angora entries seemed down from last year, there is still no doubt that the PA Convention is one of the top shows around and the greatest one to look forward to each and every year:).

There were 4 shows in Lebanon altogether over the course of two days. 2 Opens and 2 Specialties. There were approx. 30 FAs shown in both shows on the first day, and fewer on the second due to breeders who left early or only showed on Saturday (I did not get the specific numbers for that day). There were 9 exhibitors on Saturday and 6-7 on Sunday.

I brought 6 showbunnies along and discovered that this is the number I love the most because there were not so many animals that I felt rushed while grooming, and there was alot more time in general to just mill around, visit people, and take care of other business such as shopping and registrations.

The first Specialty on Saturday was judged by Randy Shumaker, who was a fabulous judge with a incredible grip on Wool. I don't believe I've ever heard a judge comment on the 'structure of the interior of the coat' before, but this man obviously knew his stuff, and it is easy to see why he is such a sought after judge in so many breeds.

In this Specialty Spang's Juno took BOB, Spang's Dijon took BOS, Spang's Pascha took BOV, and Spang's Cedric won BOSV. At the end after all the Angora breeds were finished judging, Juno then went on to take Specialty BIS, which was a great surprise:)

The first Open show afterward was judged by Robert Frizzell, and here Juno won BOB again. BOS was given to a buck belonging to Charlotte Schweikart, and Pascha took BOV with Cedric winning BOSV again.

On Sunday our Specialty was judged by Heather Litchfield, and this time Pascha took BOB, Cedric took BOS, Juno took BOV, and Dijon took BOSV. At the end of Angora judging the breeds were brought up again and this time Pascha took BIS, which was another nice surprise!:-)

The last Open show of the weekend was judged by Todd Narragon, who I have never seen on the Angora table before, but who was also a very proficient judge. In this show Juno took BOB, Cedric took BOS, Pascha took BOV, and Dijon took BOSV. By the time it was all over the bunnies were more than ready to go home (as one might imagine, LOL), so we packed them all up and left, arriving home around 8PM. It was a wonderful weekend because Juno and Pascha, both of whom had never been shown before this weekend, managed to earn multiple legs for their GCs, while Cedric and Dijon earned additional legs as well.

I took lots of pictures over the weekend (when I remembered and people reminded me, LOL!), but I think I need to start taking pictures of people with their winning rabbits on a more regular basis too, so I will try to do that next time (as well as get pictures of the Giant judging which I seem to have missed on both days:( ).

Overall we had a great time, and it was great to meet up with friends that I only see once or twice a year to catch up on the latest news:). It was also therapeutic to forget the rest of the world for awhile and sit in the same room with people who have precisely the same interests and passions. You never fail to come home tired but rejuvenated, which is what makes this such a great hobby to begin with:).

Here are a few of the pictures I did take. The first is of Randy Shumaker judging FAs.

The next is a similar shot taken from behind the table (I believe this might have been a Colored Jr. Class).

This is a general shot of the show hall, which was large and spacious:

This is the Open show on the same day with Robert Frizzell judging. Exhibitors are all holding down their spastic bunnies in this photo, which became a tougher and tougher job as the weekend wore on, especially for the bucks:(.

This is Nancy Nichols holding a gorgeous, pitch-Black bunny who had the darkest, most beautiful face color I've ever seen on an FA of this variety.

And this is an EA who was 'hanging around' on Saturday. I think this bunny belonged to Mandi Holzbach (sp?), who has only recently begun showing Angoras but who is doing a nice job with them (this was a very quiet, patient guy:)).

This is a picture of Juno that was taken directly after grooming on Sunday morning. I did manage to slide her in to be registered that day which was great because now she can be clipped and bred without worrying about that detail. Juno is the sister/littermate of Spang's Morwenna, who was granded last season and whose babies were for sale at this show. Juno will be bred to Dijon and hopefully some pretty babies will come out of her, too:).

And this is Eric Stewart, another fabulous judge who was judging the Open Satin Angoras on Sunday. Eric is currently running for the position of ARBA Vice President, and he had a great deal of enthusiastic support from breeders at the show. IMO he will be a tremendous asset to our organization if elected, and is already a much loved District Director who has always been concerned with the issues that face our membership. I look forward to watching him continue this tradition of service with the same dedication that he has shown as a DD. He is an intelligent person with an excellent work ethic, and a great human being by any definition, IMO. He will make a wonderful Vice President.

This is Heather Litchfield, who judged the 2nd Specialty with FAs on the table:). Phil Osborn is the writer.

This was the Open EA show on Sunday with Paul Kyle judging. That tall guy you see behind the table in the green sweatshirt is our own Collin Burns who won Youth BIS at the Convention this year! This weekend he had only one little Junior with him, but he was busy just the same selling stock to interested breeders:).

This is Heather L. judging EAs in the Specialty, with one of Linda Cassella's bunnies on the table:

And these are some breeders hanging out behind the tables. Pictured are Julie George, Nancy Nichols, Mary Jo Lewis, and Dru Shepard (all the way in the back toward the left):

Finally, this is the fourth and last show with Todd Narragon judging the Youth FA class with Lisa Rodenfels writing:

AND, here are two great items I picked up at the show! This is an apron that my mother (who always travels along:)) picked up for me at the Embroidery booth in the main hall. She had the name of my rabbitry embroidered on the front, and now I have a sensible place to store brushes and grooming tools instead of carrying them wedged into the straps of my fanny pak, LOLOL:-D

And this is a C-U-T-E little Angora stuffed animal that I found in the Wool Booth! Perfectly posed, he looks like an English or Giant with a recent haircut, but someone suggested that I could very easily turn him into a French by trimming the cheeks and stripping off his ear tassels:). The kids love him to death since he can be thrown around and abused in various ways without consequence, so I suspect that soon he will not be recognizable as anything but a fuzzy lump (with an unusually docile temperament, LOL).
Anyway, more on Wednesday. I will be giving lots of haircuts this week and begin making some serious breeding plans. Thanks to ALL the great people who helped make the PA show a success, and I look forward to seeing you all again next year!