Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fulton, NY Show

Yesterday (10/24) we attended the Fulton show which is basically the last NY show of the fall season. There was an Open show in the morning and a Specialty in the afternoon hosted by the NY Angora Club. There was an unusually high number of FAs entered in both shows, which was fabulous! 47 were entered in the first and nearly the same amount was entered in the second, with 8 exhibitors. The judge for the first show was Helen Brose, and the Specialty was judged by Bob Shaftoe.

I brought 7 buns along with me to enter---3 Seniors and 4 Juniors. I don't normally bring a lot of juniors to shows simply because they are rarely able to compete with seniors and I don't like to stress them if it's not 100% necessary, but yesterday I loaded 3 FA/NZ cross babies (F4 generation) up for the first time to see how they would stack up against the purebreds. I don't feel that their wool is as good as the purebreds yet because they do not seem to have as much basal density and crimp, but the senior coats on the older ones are coming in evenly now and the seniors are starting to come closer to competitive show quality. This was a perfect show to test crosses in because there were 24 juniors entered alone, and a great deal of healthy competition for them.

In the morning Spang's Juno took BOB and Spang's Giacomo earned BOS. Spang's Etienne was the 2nd place Colored Sr. doe, Spang's DuBois (cross buck) took BOSV in the White class, Spang's Felix (cross buck) was the 1st place Colored Jr. buck, and Spang's Carmen (pure doe) was 1st place Colored Jr. doe.

In the second show Juno and Giacomo got BOB/BOS again, and Etienne took 2nd place CSD again. None of the juniors won their classes in this show, but 3 of 4 earned places in the top 3. At the end of this show Juno went on to take Specialty BIS.

Below are just a few pictures that were taken during the first show in the morning. The first two are of Helen Brose judging the Colored classes, and the last is of me taking buns out of the cubbies after the judging was over, LOL.

All in all it was lots of fun (as always:)), and now the season is over and I will be clipping everyone down and doing massive tons of breeding. There are some promising babies coming up out of the youngest litters who are almost 12 weeks old, and after this the herd will be smaller and more manageable again (at least until the next batch arrives, LOL).

On one final note, I would like to wish everyone who is heading out to San Diego next week for the ARBA Convention a safe trip and lots of luck. I am sure the weather will be perfectly ideal out there, and I look forward to hearing how it goes from the people who bring their laptops and report back to the lists.

Have a great week!:-)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Good (Long:)) Story

Since this is the weekend of the famous Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY, I thought I would relate some neat things that I learned this week about the Spinners in my family.

First I guess I should go farther back to relate a little history about my family. My mother (who travels with me to rabbit shows all the time) is originally an immigrant from a German village in the former Yugoslavia known as Verbas. The culture her family was part of was known as the 'Donau Schwaben' (or in English) the 'Danube Swabian' culture. Ethnic Germans living in what is now the country of Serbia, they had a unique way of life that involved unusual food dishes and a very devoted tradition of knitting, sewing, and fiber related handiwork. Every girl (and many men) growing up in this culture learned how to knit and embroider from a very early age, and they were known far and wide for their exceptional skill in this area.

My grandmother was the youngest of a large family, and for extra money she used to raise silkworms as a child and then sell the coccoons to a local silk factory. As an adult she married a man in the neighboring village (also Donau Schwaben), and they had several children. Once WWII began, her husband (my Grandfather) was drafted into the German army as part of the maintenance unit, and she was left at home in the village with her children.

One day towards the middle/end of the war, the people of Verbas got the horrifying news that the Russian army was on the march across Yugoslavia and headed straight toward the town burning and pillaging everything as they came. My Grandmother, who was in labor with my mother at the time, was unable to leave with the rest of the town so she stayed on for 3 more days until the baby was born. She and her inlaws (who stayed to wait with her) then loaded the bare necessities into a horse-drawn wagon, and ran out of the deserted town in the nick of time with her baby and two of the older children, minus one son who had died earlier and was buried at the local cemetery.

So my family escaped the town at the last minute and managed to join up with the wave of other refugees. They spent the next several days rushing through the countryside to the sound of falling bombs and the warning drums pounding non-stop in the towns telling everyone to evacuate. Over the next several years my Grandmother traveled across Europe with her children alone, staying in various shelters and DP camps in various countries in an effort to reach safety.

Eventually, several years later,
she and my Grandfather (who had joined them again) arrived in New York City with their children, and they settled in a part of Queens where the remnants of the Danube Swabian population were finding new homes. They managed to find work at one of a number of knitting mills that had been set up by countrymen who were capitalizing on the business they knew best. Over time they were able to move out of the room they lived in behind an old storefront, and into a real house where life became more settled.

My own mother grew up and met my father (a Hungarian immigrant), and together they moved upstate after I and my siblings were born. Several times a year we went back to the city to visit my grandparents and the rest of our extended family, who were constantly making things such as knitted clothing, toys, and other handmade things for all the kids. There was never much money, but it didn't matter because their tiny house was always filled with delicious food every Christmas, and there were amazing handmade gifts under the tree and on the tree. Even today, years after her death, I still have all the sweaters and knitted toys that my Grandmother ever made for me. Most now sit on the beds of my kids--- on the same down featherbeds she threw in the wagon before they left her village so long ago.

My great grandfather in Yugoslavia made his living as a Weaver. My grandmother was an avid knitter, crocheter, and embroiderer all her life. Three of her four children became serious spinners and knitters, and my uncle Gunther, who owned and worked in knitting mills most of his life, recently picked up handspinning and won the skein contests at the Rhinebeck and Maryland festivals three years after learning, with 2 and 3 ply laceweight skeins prepared from scratch. His second skein, (the 3 ply) was made on an antique 1800s spinning wheel that he found and oiled up one day before spinning his winning skein.

Gunther came to the Rhinebeck festival with his grandaughter this weekend (who also spins), and my mother went to meet him and pick up fiber for her own projects. My aunt, a spinner and knitter as well, did not attend the festival this year but came up several times in the past.

This story doesn't have much (if anything) to do with rabbits, LOL. After hearing that my uncle is doing well with his spinning (which I hadn't known before), I got to thinking about how far a thing can come, and how deeply rooted a way of life can stay despite war, displacement, death, and tragedy. A needle and thread may seem like nothing big or important, and a sheep or rabbit don't matter very much more, but the simple things are the biggest and most important because they are far less likely to be taken away. It is a comfort to know that every time we go into our barns to groom, harvest, or plan future generations of angoras (and their precious wool), we participate in a legacy that is tied to the past and present of everyone.

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

NY State Convention

Due to a severe head cold that hit me the day of the show last weekend and lasted all through the week (and due to the fact that the kids caught it, too) this post is a week late:-).

Last weekend was the NY State Convention in Syracuse, NY, and I went up on Saturday just for the one day double show. There were 34 French entered with 7 exhibitors, and the judges were Pam Nock (Show A), and Ruth Ann Bell (Show B). I brought 5 Seniors to enter, and Spang's Juno took BOB in the first show with Spang's Giacomo earning BOS, and Giacomo took BOS in Show B again.

The day before the show I took a few pictures of my Fall show buns, so

here they are in all their glory:). Giacomo is shown above here, followed in order by Spang's Karenina, Spang's Juno, Spang's Davita, and my ultimate favorite doe this Fall, (in 2 pictures) Spang's Etienne:). Etienne is a beautifully typed doe with one of most even coats I've ever bred yet. Believe it or not she just weaned her first litter 5 weeks before this picture was taken, LOL!

Next are a few scenes from the show. Here's the grooming area:

The show hall itself (a very big one!):

Some of my buns in their carriers groomed and waiting for the show:):

Pam Nock judging the first show with Giacomo on the end after winning the Colored Sr. buck class (Doesn't it look like he's saying, "What the heck is this? Where in the heck is my luxury condo at home?" )

Pam again blowing into Davita's coat (Colored Sr. doe class):

And these are the Colored Sr. does, typically the biggest and most competitive FA class . As you can see there were not enough cubbies to hold everyone here, so that is me on the end holding one of the 'spillovers':

This is Ruth Ann Bell judging Giacomo in Show B:

All in all this was a fun show (with the exception of my sore throat and rip roaring headache:-)), and next we will be heading to the last show of the season in Fulton, NY, provided that everyone stays on feed and keeps their coats whole and intact. I am also in the middle of culling the last of the Fall litters which yielded some pretty little babies, and I will be shearing and breeding again over the next 1-2 weeks.

More again next time (and this time it won't be late, LOL!). Have a great week and enjoy the co0000l Fall weather:-)