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:).