Sunday, October 9, 2011

NY Convention Pictures

It looks like I have finally managed to get things together here and post pictures of last week's show:). Below are mostly pictures from Show A where Cheryl Eng-Link was judging. The NY Convention typically has some of the highest angora entries in the state, and most of the people standing at the table here were entered with one breed or another:

Here is either Carmen or Evita sitting out on the table, awaiting judging:

And this is Zsa Zsa during the judging of the White class:

This is the YOUTH FA show, with rabbits owned by a little girl named Meghan:).

These are my buns in their carriers, awaiting the second show:

And these are some of Zsa Zsa's 'formal' pictures, taken at home after the show:). She is still holding a prime coat now and probably would have made it to Convention, but unfortunately it is not to be since she will be getting bred and retiring soon to the nestbox instead, LOL:).

Next weekend I will also be attending the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool festival, so if anyone is interested in some sale bunnies for delivery to the event, please email me ASAP at There will be several Torts and REWs available:).

Have a great week!:-)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

NYS Convention and Reserve in Show

I have some pictures I'm going to post in a few days once I get this camera thing worked out, but for now I figured I'd post the results of a show I went to yesterday (Sat, Oct 1):).

I hadn't planned on attending the NYS Convention this year because A) for some reason I thought that there was only one Open show planned per day (which later turned out to be wrong, LOL), and B) I was planning on attending the DelMarVA show the previous weekend instead. Well, the DelMarVa show didn't quite pan out because of flooding here (again!), and later it turned out there were 2 Open shows on Saturday in Syracuse, so I decided to head over to try to squeeze in at least one show for this season:).

I brought 3 Sr. does along: Spang's Zsa Zsa, Spang's Evita, and Spang's Carmen, and the two shows were judged by Cheryl Eng-Link and Helen Brose, respectively. There were 33 FAs entered in both shows and 6 exhibitors.

Zsa Zsa took BOV/BOB for both shows, and Carmen won BOV Colored for both shows. Evita placed right behind Carmen in the Colored class in the second show, and I think she did it in the first show also, though I wasn't writing anything down and can't quite remember the details (apologies to anyone in case I'm wrong!:( )

In the Best in Show competition for Show B, Zsa Zsa also won the Open RIS on a very competitive table, and overall she had a wonderful, excellent day:). She earned her 7th leg and will now come home to be sheared and bred along with everyone else for the Fall litters.

Today I am getting ready for the kids to arrive home after their l-o-n-g vacation:). Though I got a lot done and it was great to have an uninterrupted break, it will be wonderful to see them again and get back to the daily madness that is normal life in the Spang family household. LOL.

Pictures will be posted in the next several days----have a great week!:-)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bunnies for Sale at DelMarva

Just wanted to post a quick note to say that I will be bringing two Tort Jr. bucks with me to sell at the DelMarva show on Saturday. They are both approx. 4 months old and show quality (out of my best herd sire). If anyone has any questions before 2PM tomorrow just email me at Otherwise, hope to see you at the show!

Have a fantastic weekend:-)

---Due to flood warnings up and down the east coast this weekend (again!), I will not be attending this show after all. Sorry! :(

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rabbit/ Stuff Update

It's been quite a while since I've blogged, and I guess a lot has been going on in this neck of the woods:). During the hurricane we lost our power/internet for a week and the phone for almost 3 weeks (it just came back the other night:( ). As if that weren't enough, a whole bunch of flooding came afterward and the majority of the towns here had profound damage, with one nearby getting totally inundated and almost wiped of the map:(. We were very, very lucky because we are located on a hill where the water always runs down, and we also have few trees around our house (thanks to dh cutting them all down years ago, LOL), and nothing fell on the house or any of our outbuildings. The rabbitry is also on a hill so no water collected there, and all in all we were one of the very few here who had no damage or flooding whatsoever:(.

Show-wise I had planned on attending some local shows this fall, but the Cobleskill show last week ended up getting skipped because of the flooding between here and there. Looking at the NYS show website the NY Convention has basically scheduled one Open show for Saturday and one for Sunday but there are no specialties in between, so it is hardly worth making a 4 hour trip Friday night and spending money for 2 nights at a hotel for only 2 shows in 2 days, LOL.

Anyway, what ended up happening is that I remembered that the UARC was holding a Specialty in addition to 2 Open shows in MD in DelMarva on Sept. 24, so I decided that the best thing to do might be to take a road trip down there on Friday night, show 3 times, and then come home again on Saturday:). I've never shown that far south before but it looks like it's going to be a really fun show, so I'm going to round up the buns next week and go.

On another note, ALL of my kids have taken off on a cross country trip with their Grandfather for the next couple of weeks! They are going camping, visiting the National parks, seeing lots of new places they've never seen before and having an absolute BALL, and for the first time since they were born I find myself with free time that I haven't had since before I got married, LOL!

After some initial confusion I took off like a shot, and I've been cleaning and organizing things like a MANIAC:-). The rabbit barn is absolutely spotless, every rabbit (not in coat) is sheared and ready to be bred next week. Everyone is tattooed and ivomeced, every cage is labeled, and all my dishes/bottles/ and supplies have been neatly stored in assorted plastic tubs:). I keep thinking of other things that have to be done but then am amazed to find I did them already (LOLOLOL!). I cannot BELIEVE how much time there is in the day when you have it to yourself, and now I am whizzing through every room in the house cleaning, organizing, redecorating, and in some cases even repainting. YIKES!:):)

The only problem I have is that my camera is acting up and it won't allow me to post pictures. All the bun photos I've taken, etc. will have to wait until everyone comes back and I have someone technical on hand to fix it:). Until then I will just check in every once in awhile with posts and assorted text articles as I continue to zoom through this place getting lots of things done---!!!!!!!!

I hope everyone everywhere else is starting to see the temperatures drop for fall (great bunny weather!), and I hope also that others in the east who were hit by the hurricane and excessive flooding did not sustain too much damage. Best of luck for a calmer (and happier!!) fall and show season for everyone:-).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bunny Trip to VA

Hello Everyone,

I will be taking a trip down to VA this Wednesday, August 17 to deliver some rabbits, so if anyone is interested in acquiring something or arranging a pickup, please feel free to contact me at I will have REWs, Pearls, and probably a few Torts for sale. Breeding and Sire/Dam information is available on my website on the 'Breeding/Litters' page at Does will be $125 and bucks will be $100 along with a small delivery/gas charge for each rabbit.

Litters that will be available are out of Nikola, Natalya, and Miachi. I plan on driving South out of NY via I-78, I-81, and I-83, with an endpoint near Waterford, VA.

Thanks, and have a great week!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

New Bunny Pics!

I finally got some pictures taken this week, and amazingly I also figured out how to upload them on this new computer, LOL! I have a monstrous amount of new rabbits in the barn now which is great, and thankfully I also have plenty of new FAs to add to the existing herd that was getting a little thinned out. Most of these shots below are of FAs, and there are actually many more juniors in the barn that I haven't photographed yet. I put together my best combinations for breeding this spring/summer and happily it resulted in some beautiful babies who will be filling the roster for upcoming show seasons (where the older buns leave off and retire to spend the rest of their careers in the nestbox:)).

I got lots of great Torts, which I guess is the one color that good rabbits here seem to be, but there were also some stunning REWs which was great because no color in angoras can truly compete with the wool of a white rabbit:). There are 4 more French litters coming up (all 8-9 weeks old now), but no one will be bred again til September to give the bucks a chance to recover from the heat of summer.

The first two babies pictured here are Giant crosses (F2's now). Both are nearly 9 weeks old and one is Chestnut while the other is REW. There were many other GA babies born this spring (probably too many, LOL), but most have either been Black or White except for two or three Chestnuts and one Steel. The Steel baby was surprising, but it showed me that my main GA sire SFF's Rubicon is Steel beneath the white, and I will have to work that out at some point. The Steel baby was too nice (and large:)) to get rid of, and her sire is an excellent buck with superb balance and wool quality, so I will keep them both and strip the steel out later using 'ee' animals. After this I will separate my lines to keep the gene contained while (hopefully) still managing to isolate the best qualities of the GA buck:).



This below is an older picture of one of Etienne's French babies at 10 wks. (Etienne usually produces my best show litters). This little girl is now almost 5 months old in Jr. prime. Her name will be Spang's Esperanza.

I thought these two pictures were very interesting because they show an F4 FA/NZ doe whose coat has changed dramatically in just over two years of life. Elenita had a perfectly textured coat when she was young, and her picture was even added to the latest Standard of Perfection. Several growth cycles later (and several litters later) she began to get much hairier. Now at approx. 2 years old, she has become so imbalanced that she is no longer fit to show. The darker color seen on the saddle area is a function of her abundant guard hair which contrasts sharply with the sides of her coat, which still have a correct ratio of guard hair to underwool. Elenita can no longer be shown, but since she has wonderful type, size, and production quality, she will stay on to breed for a much longer time. I don't worry much about her coat issue because even though an F4 generation rabbit is considered purebred, there is no question that the wool is still not 100% balanced on many of these animals, and another 2 generations are needed for them to become indistinguishable from 'genuine' purebreds.

This is a picture of Bijou last spring right before harvest (on a somewhat windy day). Her coat was slipping badly and it had become rough looking, dull, and disheveled. The picture at the very beginning of this post is Bijou again just yesterday, growing in her next new coat. She looks even, primed, and balanced again, and she should be stunning in another 2 months. The differences in coat quality for each growth phase become very apparent over time. A great wool judges can discern instantly what phase any angora is in, and some can even tell how long a rabbit has been in a particular phase (beginning, middle, end).

This here is Spang's Nikola, a Pearl doe in full coat last spring who recently weaned her first litter. I haven't looked these babies over yet, but I think there will be some nice ones in the bunch.

And this is the very best REW that was born this spring to Zsa Zsa and Anton. She is a beautiful baby with great density, type, and balance who will be named Spang's Zaragevna.

So anyway, that's it for today. I will get more GA and FA pics up as I take them, and some of the new babies coming up as well.

Have a great week and STAY COOL!:-D

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back at Last:)

It's been a long time since I've posted (I mean really, obscenely long:( ), and I think that every year from now on at this time I will have to take a formal break from blogging until the baseball season is over because with 3 kids going in 3 different directions for MONTHS there is little time for anything but cooking, cleaning, sleeping (if I'm lucky:)) and washing uniforms. Whew!!

Anyway, the season is mostly over now, so it is time to get caught up on rabbit stuff again. I did manage to get my barn pulled apart and deep cleaned several weeks ago, so everyone is now housed in a bright, clean, shiny, happy barn:). I bred LOTS of babies over the spring/summer---probably more than I've bred in years----so now it is a matter of weaning those litters off and evaluating them several weeks later to determine who stays around and who has their destinies decided elsewhere. Since so many babies were born this spring I have decided to give my does the summer off and not breed again til the fall. Clearly this was a good choice since along with everyone else on the eastern seaboard (and the entire country!), we are having HORRIBLE high temps that have more than likely rendered all the bucks sterile.

Tomorrow we have another near-100 degree day here, and then it is supposed to cool down somewhat. I've spent most of the last few days shearing as many rabbits as possible down to the skin. Aside from a few of the French adults growing in showcoats (who will be lounging in the basement to stay cool), there is no reason to keep anyone else in coat in these high temperatures.

I have found that the Giants, especially, suffer terribly in this weather. Notwithstanding their thicker, more insulative coats, they also have the problem of heavy ear and facial furnishings which prevent them from dissipating heat the way a clean-headed rabbit breed would. FAs seem to handle the weather well and so do Satin Angoras, but as long as any wool rabbit is either sheared or kept groomed so that no matting occurs to make it even hotter, most are able to cope well and get through these dog days of summer:(.

More again this weekend as I can get some pictures taken of the latest buns and get my show on the road once more:). I may be making a trip to the state of VA sometime later this summer and bringing buns down south as a result. Stay tuned for more details!

Have a great week and STAY COOL:-)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Economy in the Rabbitry--Feed

As gas prices go up and the price of everything seems to be rising each day, it is a good idea to look over our rabbitry routine periodically to see if we can cut costs:).

As we have all noticed, feed prices go up when gas costs go up. Lately, feed prices have skyrocketed, which makes any breeder pause to think about how their costs can be contained. Since feed is by far the most expensive ingredient in raising rabbits, it is the first factor to consider.

Quality angora feed is not cheap, but there are things we can do to lower the price:

1) Order it by the ton. A ton of feed sounds overwhelming, but when you consider the fact that a rabbitry of 40 or more adults including nursing does and babies can easily polish off 4 or more 50 lb. bags of feed a week, it becomes a logical and attractive option. A ton of 40 lb. bags of feed amounts to 50 bags. A ton of 50 lb. bags equals 40 bags. If you order a ton of feed straight from a company you will not only get it at the wholesale price, but even with the cost of shipping you may find that you can save 5$ or more per bag under the cost at your local feed store. Add this benefit to the fact that you are eliminating a middle man who may a) be storing your feed improperly, b) forgetting to order at the right time thus leaving you hanging at the worst possible moment, and c) neglecting to keep track of expiration dates. Ordering feed yourself often makes it possible to get a batch right after it has been milled, and even if you do not have anyone to share a ton with (another breeder to split it with you, etc.), you would still have a good chance of using up the full amount by the time it expired. 1/2 tons are also available to order from most companies, but shipping costs are often the same and it is usually more economical to order the full ton.

2) Choose a less expensive feed. Though you would never want to use a feed with poor quality ingredients, there are certainly variations in price between most of the major brands. Depending on where you live, feeds which are manufactured nearby are going to be cheaper (and fresher) than brands which are milled far away. Also, some brands are available in 50 lb. bags while others are available in 40, making it smart to calculate cost effectiveness.

3) Use a lower protein feed for younger rabbits and a higher protein one for adults, especially if a lower version in the same feed line is cheaper. Angora juniors, for example, are not typically competitive on the show table and baby wool is not of great value to the spinner either, so it does not necessarily pay to feed babies a top of the line feed with a high protein level to promote wool growth. Most major feed lines offer an assortment of feed preparations with varying protein levels. A Standard 16% (or even 15%) feed will work very well for babies up to 4 months, and may better safeguard gut health since juniors of 14 weeks and below are more susceptible to enteritis.

4) Cut down the number of rabbits in your herd. This can be difficult if you are trying to maintain a gene pool of a certain size or are working on a project which requires frequent, heavy breeding. However, if cutting back means the difference between continuing or going out of rabbits altogether, you will simply have to prioritize. If you are forced to downsize, one option to consider is to take on a partner who has similar breeding goals and animals of similar quality who would be willing to trade rabbits and breedings to keep the line/gene pool healthy. Since agreements of this nature can often run into conflict, it is important to partner with someone who shares your breeding goals and is someone with whom you get along well.

More again next time as I add to this topic and try listing ways to save $$ on hay, supplements, meds, tools, cage equipment, and so on. Also, I will add a list at the end to suggest ways of bringing money in while raising rabbits. Rabbits are not typically known as money makers, but it is certainly possible to make enough profit while raising them (particularly angoras) to cover the cost of feed and other needs.

Have a great week!:-)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bijou and---Baseball!

I just clipped Bijou recently, but since she had this beautiful, beautiful coat ahead of time I figured it would be necessary to post 15 million pictures of it first, LOL. It was a little windy that day so she's slightly unkempt, but she yielded close to 11 oz. at this clip, and it will all be going to members of my mother's local spinning group:).

I had a few more litters born last week, and am expecting many more next week, including several FA litters. I will be breeding 3-4 more French does this week, and I think I will have to build many more nestboxes soon too, because the usual supply just isn't cutting it anymore, LOL.

And just as an aside, we went to my son Keith's first Babe Ruth double header game this weekend. There he is (#11!) first in the huddle with his team, then in the yard in his uniform, and last in the batter's box right before he got a big hit:). All three boys are on different teams this year so it is going to be crazy trying to keep up with them this season (much less trying to transport everyone, LOL!!)

Anyway, have a great week and more again next time!:-)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Just a series of pics that remind us all of Spring around here (and Easter!!:-)). I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday with many, many bunny babies this spring.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rhinebeck, NY Show

I just got home from the Rhinebeck show a couple of hours ago and I am still shivering even as I write (ugh!) due to the miserable weather and pouring rain we all endured. I am really glad to be home and even more glad to be taking the coats off the three remaining does I brought so everyone can finally be bred:).

There were very few Angoras present at Rhinebeck this year, but perhaps better weather next year will encourage more to attend. I brought three does to show since I was also working as Registrar, but two of them managed to earn BOB in both shows----Spang's Midori in Show A, and Spang's Bijou in Show B. I did not end up bringing my camera for pictures since I accidentally left it in my son's backpack yesterday (LOL!), but I will try to get a picture up later of Bijou in particular, who is in super, duper full coat right now.

Right now every single doe (and I mean every SINGLE one!) of breeding age with the exception of the above three rabbits are bred right now. Most are pure French litters, but others are French/Giant and a few others are Satin, so it is going to be a busy, BUSY spring:). I have realized also lately that my FA herd needs to be beefed up, so I'll be breeding lots of those through the spring and summer too. All this breeding will mean that there will be little if anything left to show this spring, but occasionally it is necessary to skip a show season or two in order to stabilize the herd and redefine one's direction:). I have always considered myself to be a breeder before anything else (including showing), so it is important to stop every once in awhile to examine plans and make adjustments accordingly.

Anyway, more again next time as I post some pictures and get on track with different subjects. Hopefully everyone out there is experiencing a HUGE surge in litters with the warmer spring weather, so have a great week!:-)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rabbitry Planning

Well, it looks like the miserable winter has come to an end and spring has finally sprung:-). I have been spending most of my time this past week opening up the rabbitry, cleaning things out, moving bunnies around, and replacing dirty dishes, footboards, and water bottles, etc. One evening last week I made up this drawing in which I designated certain parts of my rabbitry for different breeds:

The most spacious part of the plan (that is, the inside of the barn) will always be used to house the FAs. There are approx. 40 cages in there which give me enough space (most of the time, haha:)) to fit all my babies and adults every year as long as I stagger litters instead of breeding every doe at once.

Since my Giant program is growing now, too, I am going to need more space for babies. I moved all the GAs to the outside of the barn in which there is a long row of large size cages. Opposite these cages, and up against the back of my house, there will eventually be a third row (with a walkway in between) in which I will raise a few Satin Angoras.

I may not have mentioned it before, but I recently picked up two new SA bucks at the PaSRBA show in February. I never thought of myself as owning Satins in the past, but my mother Lesa absolutely LOVES Satin fiber and spins it whenever she gets the chance:). Since she has graciously accompanied me to shows now for years and has been a constant source of help and support, I thought the least I could do was get her a couple of rabbits, LOL!

I don't know if I will ever show Satins or raise them for the long term, but they are certainly interesting to observe and contrast with the other angora breeds, and it is always good to have the experience of raising several different kinds of rabbits. Having said this though, I doubt I will ever own an English Angora because the maintenance requirement is just too high and I would never be able to cope with that many furnishings, LOL.

Anyway, lots of clipping and breeding happening tomorrow. My five most recent litters are now growing like weeds and will be in the barn soon permanently. The next wave of babies appears soon after that:).

More again next time as the spring bunny chores really take off. Most important of all there is the annual pull-the-whole-barn-apart-and-clean-every-square-inch-of-the-walls-floors-and-ceilings weekend to think about, but since that is one of the biggest jobs of the year around here, I try not to stress myself about it before I have to (*grin*).

Have a great week!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just a Few Pics

These are just a few pics today of Giant Crosses that were out for grooming this weekend. There are more in the barn waiting for their own photo sessions (LOL), but here are 3 of my does who are FA/GA and FA/NZ/GA crosses. These girls have about 2 months worth of growth on them now. I am waiting to see how far they can go (wool-wise) before needing a clipping. Once these coats are finished all three girls will be bred to Spang's Tundra, the largest REW FA/NZ/GA cross I bred this winter, and I will see what comes out:). All three of these girls are 8 months old; the Black does weigh 9 1/2 lbs. each and the Chocolate is currently at 11.




More again next week as the weather continues to thaw. Happy Spring!!:-)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

At Last---!

Well, today was the day---rightly or not----that I finally got rid of those accursed water dishes and replaced them with the much neater and infinitely more practical water bottle, LOL. By some miracle the days are finally getting warmer here now, and while a few nights have still been in the high 20's, the majority of late have been above freezing, or at least close enough to 32 degrees that the water doesn't quite freeze at night. After watching my purebred Giant doe immerse her entire head (furnishings and all---!!) in her water dish last night, I decided that enough was enough and even if I had to haul 1000 water bottles into the house every morning to thaw if the temperature should drop back to zero, it is still better than hyperventilating every time I watch a rabbit in show coat standing, slurping, or snorkeling in it's water dish, LOL.

Anyway, so this is the first of several loads of bottles I brought outdoors today to replace. It was great to feel that spring is on it's way and I can soon get back to 'normal' life with a more efficient management schedule that allows watering just once a day instead of twice. Whew!:-)

Here also are two pictures I took several weeks ago of the last two bunnies in showcoat after the PA show---right before they were clipped and bred. This bun here is Elenita, a Sable doe who had one litter already and proved herself to be an excellent mother. She is currently bred to Anton, a Sable Pearl buck.

This is Spang's Diana right before her last haircut. I have posted several pictures of this girl already (beautiful as she is:-). She is bred to Anton now as well and is due on March 24.

What I am waiting to do now is begin breeding the first generation of Giant Cross does. All the babies from my initial F1 crosses are now approx. 8 months old, so in another month or so I will go ahead and start breeding them to see what comes up. My plan is to start with Cross does (bred to) Cross bucks to get litters that will be 25% GA, 25% FA, and 50% crossed. Any crosses I save from those litters will get bred to each other again to raise the chances of producing phenotypical GAs, and I will keep breeding and selecting for the best rabbits from there. In this last wave of breedings I have also bred two French does to two different purebred GA bucks (SFF's Rubicon--a REW and SFF's Simon---a Black) to produce an even larger pool of base offspring to work with. We will see how it all goes and I'll report my progress here as everything unfolds.

Anyway, more stuff again next week. Enjoy the nice (er!) weather in your area, and hopefully we will all be seeing green again real soon:-).

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

New Website--Finally!

Well, I finally got around to revamping my website after several years of intending but never getting around to actually doing it.

After stumbling on the website 'Weebly' which is a perfect (idiot's!:-)) tool for building a website from scratch, I knew that this would be easy way to get the job done and an even easier way to update my site more often. Given my total lack of talent with computers I was thrilled to find something that even I could use, so here is the revamped version of my site at:

I still have lots of changes to make and things to add (most of the links don't work quite yet), but I should have everything up and running soon. The site will now be much easier to adapt and add to without going through lots of programming 'steps' that hold no meaning for me whatsoever, making my life in general a little less confusing. *grin*

All well, lots of grooming and breeding to do this weekend. Hope everyone is starting to catch a glimpse of Spring now that February is at an end!

Have a great week:-)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Beautiful Bunny Pictures!

This week I wanted to post pictures of some bunny artwork done by Rebecca Snider of GA. Becca was kind enough to donate these drawings to the United Angora Rabbit Club for use as BIS prizes, and I just wanted to post them here to see if I could show them off and give her a little exposure at the same time:).

This first drawing is of a French Angora (shown closeup in the first pic.)

This next picture is of a Satin Angora (shown close up below):

Both drawings are framed, matted, and ready for display. If you want to reach Becca to order some of these beautiful drawings for yourself (or maybe a drawing of one of your bunnies at home!) just email her at

Thanks again Becca for donating your art! I'm sure they'll be gladly received at our next specialty show!:-)

Monday, February 14, 2011

More Wool Stuff

At long weekend shows you invariably end up staying in hotels, and when you stay in hotels it is often very difficult to sleep:). After last week's PaSRBA show I found myself with a spell of insomnia on Saturday night in which I got to thinking about the judging of angora wool and the guidelines that individual judges use in assessing it. I thought over the years of how the best wool judges approach an angora coat, and what characteristics they considered the most important.

Everyone has their own opinion of different judges, (and everyone has a favorite to show under), but there are definitely some judges who have the ability to evaluate wool better than others due to personal experience with angoras or simply because they understand the structure of a wool coat and how that relates to it's practical function.

I have noticed a trend in shows lately for judges to evaluate angora wool (of any type) by smoothing it back and forth repeatedly from the rump to the head. They don't actually part the wool and look at the structure of it when they do this, but they do spend a great deal of time fussing with the coat in general and pushing/pulling it in every possible direction. Lately I have been hearing such terms at shows as 'flowability', 'coarseness at the tips', and a large number of other references to condition which are not necessarily relevant to the angora standard.

'Flowability', as near as I can tell, refers to the ability of a coat to flow back down to it's original position in a smooth and fluid manner. I heard several judges use this term last week in PA, and I remember hearing it at the NY State Convention last year as well. It was certainly used in both places to evaluate and place individual rabbits.

A flowing coat can mean a coat that is 'Prime', but other than this it seems to have little relevance to the structure of a coat, other than helping to determine balance and (possibly) texture. It is easy to understand smoothing/ruffling a coat to determine evenness of length since an exercise like this would expose weaknesses along the spine and might also determine a lack of density in the same place. Aside from this, it is impossible to determine the structure of a wool coat without actually parting and examining the wool down to it's base. A coat which 'flows' beautifully and evenly is likely to be LESS dense in most cases simply because a rabbit with more underwool has a thicker coat that is less inclined to move .

This practice of 'swishing the wool' may have originated with the English Angora because judges are continually fluffing and smoothing the coats of that breed every time they are removed from their cubbies or placed on a show table. I assume this is done to enhance the presentation of the coat since most English coats part and lay flat when relaxed. In French Angoras, the 'flowability' term seems mostly to be a gauge of condition, followed possibly by evenness of length and some evaluation of texture. A flowing coat does not help to evaluate real density or internal wool structure (which garner the most points in every angora breed), but I noticed that most of the judges gauging wool in this way did not seem aware of how to evaluate crimp, what the proper ratio of guardhair to underwool was for each breed, what guard hair protrusion is, and so on and so forth. Because they are unfamiliar with wool in general, they fall back on overall condition as a guide and focus on the traits that are easy to see during the 'swishing process' but do not carry as many points.

It is true that a properly textured coat will fall free and not 'stick' to itself. It is also true that overall length must be as even as possible in order to create the characteristic oval shape of the FA. 'Flowability', however, is a strange term that has been used lately to place FAs in shows, and it is ranking the thinner, more hair-like coats that flow 'better' and 'more smoothly' over the denser, more properly structured ones with a tighter crimp and better basal structure. Even if testing 'flow' was merely done to evaluate condition, there are only 5 points on condition in every angora standard. Wool in general accounts for 55 points out of 100 in the FA, while density rules at 25 points, followed by texture at 20, and length a distant third at 10.

Condition gets much attention in angora breeds and this is sensible considering that angora wool is used in spinning. On the showtable, however, condition is less important than the quality of the wool itself, and judges either overlook this or minimize it's importance by focusing on less significant areas.

I do not want to seem critical of judges, especially the new ones out there who are unfamiliar with angora wool. Coat composition is a difficult thing to learn even for those of us who breed these rabbits, but it worries me that emphasis is increasingly being placed on qualities which have no great weight in our standard, and the standard itself is being reinterpreted in some cases to include qualities which angoras were never intended to be judged for in the first place.

There are some fantastic wool judges in the ARBA, and when I think back to HOW those people judge, I realize that they very rarely 'muss up' or do fancy things with the wool. They spend a great deal of time examining the quality of each hairshaft from top to bottom and determining overall balance of the coat in terms of underwool/ guardhair ratio. They weigh the quality of each part of the coat as it serves to balance the whole, and they describe what they see at every step of the judging process to make it a truly educational experience that helps breeders know what to aim for in future litters.

Anyway, so this is what I comtemplated during one night of incurable insomnia, LOL. Angora wool is a complicated subject and difficult to judge with so many examples in place at a show. However, it is important to look at the standard for each breed and focus on exactly what it states in order to prevent confusion and keep new breeders from moving in opposing directions with their herds.

Have a great (much warmer!) week:)

Monday, February 7, 2011

2011 PA Convention

Well, it was a L-O-N-G weekend this year at the PA show, but as usual the trip was well worth it because it is such a wonderful show with such fabulous people:).

I brought a total of 8 rabbits to show and 8 babies to sell, so the car was stacked from top to bottom with bunnies, bunny equipment, and lots of misc. items. Entries this year were down again, unfortunately, probably because of bad weather on Sat, but all in all it was a good turnout with a decent amount of rabbits shown.

There were 4 shows over the course of the weekend---2 UARC Specialties and 2 Open shows hosted by the PaSRBA club. Judges for the specialties were Randy Schumaker (Sat.) and Eric Stewart (Sun.), and judges for the Open shows were Jay Hreiz and Donyelle Schultz.

This was a very interesting weekend mainly because the results of each show were all over the place. Typically there is one rabbit or breeder that stands out (or even 2 or 3), but this time each show had a different result based on some very different styles and preferences of individual judges. I thought a lot about these differences over the weekend and made some observations that I hadn't before, but since this post would be way too long with this and the results of the show, I will just have to save them for next time:).

The rabbits I brought in were good, but some were beginning to slip their coats and I'm sure they would have been happier if the show had been held 2-3 weeks earlier:). In the first specialty only one of my rabbits won it's class (and grudgingly at that, LOL), and in the first Open every rabbit I had was thrown off in favor of a different style of coat. In the second Open on Sun. I got BOS with Giacomo, and in our 2nd Specialty bunnies that were owned or bred by me won every class but one, and Giacomo earned BOS again with Diana winning both BOB and the Specialty BIS.

So all in all it was a successful weekend with Giacomo and Diana picking up their 8th and 9th legs, and all the babies went home with wonderful new owners, freeing up tons of cage space and making it possible for me to breed again ad nauseum, LOL.

Here are some pictures that were taken over the weekend. The best ones were taken by Julie who is a far better photographer than I am (for sure!), and the last ones where the most interesting things that happened were not photographed, were taken by me:-).

This first photo is of the Wool, Skein, and Garment contest that UARC hosted. There were some beautiful articles included like this vest that was made by a youth entrant. Everyone who passed by made wonderful comments on it:).

This is the Wool Room filling up on Saturday:

These were my bunnies on the table in their carriers:

This is Julie and Ellen at the UARC table Sunday after everything was cleaned up and winding down:

This is a nice REW bunny owned by Karina Anderson that is the offspring of a buck I sold her mom two or more years ago:)

This is Pam and I (and several other breeders) watching the judging on Sat:

This is Randy Schumaker judging the Colored Sr. doe class:

This is Ashley and Kim holding bunnies in cubbies which really should have been wider, made of wire, and had metal risers in each hole (this is a standard cubby complaint for every wool breed---!:( ).

Here is Jay Hreiz judging the Saturday Open Show:

This is a beautiful photo that Julie took of all the Specialty winners on Saturday.

Speaking of Julie, here is a picture of her writing for Eric Stewart on Sunday at the second Specialty show!

And since I did not get any picture of her at the show (not thinking of it as usual:)), here is a picture of Diana taken at home several days before the show. This bunny, along with every other doe I brought and entered, had just weaned a litter 3 weeks prior (2 weeks before in this picture:)). Despite this handicap, she and all the others managed to grow competitive show coats and place at the top of all their classes. I know I am always bragging about the toughness and all-around versatility of the French Angora, but factors like this (that cannot even be evaluated on the showtable) just go to prove how wonderful and valuable these rabbits REALLY are. They are truly one of a kind:).

Anyway, now it is time to shear rabbits and get back to the serious business of breeding. I am working out compatible pairs at the moment and should have litters once again which strain the confines of time and space (as ALWAYS, LOL!)

Have a great week:).