Wednesday, December 28, 2005

All 10 still going strong!

I'll post another pic when they open their eyes.

Meanwhile, I've been reading up, with some help from Google Language Tools and some friends, on rabbit coat color genetics thought in Europe. I have uncovered an interesting theory that red can be developed from selfs as well as agoutis and tans. The key is the wideband gene. Apparently, wideband is said to clean up the smut the non-extrension gene leaves in torts as well as in tans. I would LOVE to put that theory to the test, but I do not have room in my rabbitry. I do have a tort French buck whom I know to have one recessive wideband gene. The test would be to breed him to another tort with a recessive wideband gene, and see if any *apparently* self-reds come out of the breeding. Anyone up to the challenge? We could work something out.

Friday, December 23, 2005

So far, so good...



I've worked out a routine with this litter. Every evening I feed the bunns, let them munch a bit undisturbed, then I take Mopsie out of her cage and inspect the babies. I lay them out on a clean towel with a bit of fuzz and check to see that no wool is wrapped around any parts and that their little bellies are full. I return the fat ones to the nest and if any are looking a little skinny (usually 2 of them do) I take them and Mom upstairs for a little quality nursing time on my lap. Then I return them to their proper places and bid them goodnight. First thing in the morning, I reach in the nest and check them out by feel, if all feels well I get on with feeding and leave everyone alone. Mopsie seems comfortable with this routine.

She pulls more wool for them every day. The room they are in is not directly heated, but in the winter stays around 40 degrees, even in the most bitter weather. I am just amazed at how well all 10 are doing! I do notice that Mopsie spends a lot less time lying next to Snowman (in the next cage) than she used to. I wonder if somehow she realises he's responsible!? LOL!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I have baby bunnies... :D

There are a few things in life better than a new litter of little wigglers, but I can't think of too many. Yesterday afternoon Roberts' Mopsie, my German doe from old lines, gave birth to NINE babies! *** Correction, she had TEN babies, all well as of Thursday morning*** All are alive and well so far this morning. With a litter this size, I always expect to lose 1 or 2 right off the bat, but not so far...

The proud poppa is Storybook Dreams Snowman, my buck from 100% recent import lines. This guy must be fertile! I actually wanted a small litter, the doe is just 8 months old and Snowman is young (I find younger bucks usually produce smaller litters) so I just put them together for one breeding and removed the doe promptly. Usually, I leave them together for awhile, particularly if, as in this case, they are housed next to each other and are friends.

If all goes well with this litter, large healthy litters are something I want to strive for, so I expect we'll be keeping a doe.

Meanwhile Snowman has a date with a favorite doe I sold to my friend Cheryl, JG's Little Brat



Cheryl and I will have to get together soon on that. :D

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Since I haven't posted any pics lately, I thought you'd all enjoy a picture of JG's Carmella. I'll be breeding her in February for a March litter. I haven't decided to whom yet. I have a little blue buck I was thinking of, but he mats easily and requires a lot more grooming than I'd like. But he should carry rufus, he's from the Otter program. He also has a lot of furnishings, he's really cute, and friendly. And he has a great butt! ;)

Carmella

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Winkie's babies...

... are all shorthairs. I knew there was a chance she didn't carry angora. At least the babies do, since their sire is an angora. I'm not absolutely sure of the sexes yet, but I will keep a buck and a doe from this litter, at least for awhile. The blue otter definitely, and one of the black otters. So much for weeding out all the shorthairs from the program!

I don't plan on breeding Carmella and Persnickety until after the PaSRBA Convention in February. So I look for Otter Angora litters in March. I hate to wait that long, but right now my purebred Germans and Giants are taking precedence. I *think* Dumpling's breeding to Gruff has taken, I'll know for sure in about 10 days. Also, I bred Mopsie to Snowman, my new buck from import bloodlines. I especially want that breeding, both rabbits have such dense wool, I believe either of them might meet IAGARB registration requirements.

If by chance the breedings didn't take, both does will go to the PA Convention in February. Dumpling has never been shown, I'd like to see how she does. Snowman might go, too, just for fun.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

On posing and Germans and Giants... again

One of the great things about going to Convention is the opportunity to meet breeders from other parts of the country and the world. Talking with Judy Le Marchant from England was informative and a blast! Judy judges rare breeds over there, and is a very smart cookie. One thing that really gets her going is the American way of posing rabbits. ARBA sates clearly how commercial breeds of rabbits should be posed, yet time after time I see judges smashing the poor things together to get that round topline. In spite of the fact that most, if not all, of the standards for these breeds specifically state there should be a *slight* rise from shoulder to hip, the judges want to see a hemisphere with ears. In order to get that, you need a rabbit with a longer back, because you're bending to get that profile, not a shorter back like the standards specify.

What's this got to do with Germans and Giants? I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that while the breeds may be similar, " A good Giant does not make a good German, and a good German does not make a good Giant." Why? Because supposedly the body type is so different. Poppycock!

First allow me to quote a small part of the Standard of Perfection for Giant Angoras:

Body--Points 10: The body is to be of commercial type, with good width and depth, tapering slightly from hindquarters to the shoulders. It is to be well balanced throughout. The flesh is to be firm and smooth, over a well nourished body.

Faults-- Rounded, cobby body.
Disqualification from competition-- Short coupled body

Now how does this differ from the IAGARB standard? The general statement is as follows:

You should aim for a medium-sized rabbit of commercial type, with good length/depth/width ratio, firm flesh and noticeable furnishings on head, ears and feet.

A more detailed explanation follows:

The body is of medium length, cylindrical, of good depth and width for balance.

Aahh... *cylindrical*. How do you judge this? You stretch the rabbit out. I know this because I witnessed a German judging demonstration.

Ever see a Himilayan in a normal pose? They don't look cylindrical at all until you stretch them. Neither does a German. Stretch a Giant out like that, they look cylindrical, too.

As I stated on the germanangora list, the difference between the breeds is not in the animals, it is in the standards for registration, and the culture of the two groups. German breeders breed primarily for wool production. They have very strict wool requirements for registration. Giant breeders breed for wool, too, since more wool means better showing, but they have very strict weight requirements to meet. Germans don't. Everything else is pretty much the same.

Then there is the fact that, as originally presented, the animals were pure Germans. The animals that were eventually accepted by ARBA were not, they were larger German Hybrids, to distinguish them more from the English Angora. Then a funny thing happened. While we here in America were breeding more German into the Giant lines to get better wool, the Berlin Wall fell in Europe and suddenly the East German rabbit breeders could now fully participate with the West German breeders. And guess what the East German breeders contributed to the German Angora - BIG, BEEFY RABBITS. Yes, the East Germans liked their angoras BIG - and bigger rabbits produced more wool.

Now that the big, beefy, recent imports are being shown as and being bred into the Giants, I challenge anyone to come to the NARBC Angora Nationals in Frankfurt, NY this Spring and tell me which animals are Germans and which are Giants.

You say potato, I say potato... ;)

Thanks to Judy Le Marchant for bringing the influence of the East German angora breeders to my attention.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The long-awaited rufus!

First allow me to start with a brag - Vinnie, my choc torte French buck I am using to improve color, body type, and wool in my Otters is now "Grand Champion" Fancy That's Vincent. Woo Hooo!!!!

I'm going to first fill in some background on myself and my Otter program. I first joined ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association) back in 1972, when I was 11. I joined as an adult because I wanted to compete with adults and I wanted to be able to vote in elections and other matters. At that time, I raised Roan Abyssinian cavies and was quite successful at it. My parents bred prize-winning Guppies (yes, people breed and show all sorts of fish just like we do rabbits, dogs, horses, and such), my Dad in fact founded the Three Rivers Guppy Assn. So I was exposed to breeding startegies for color, shape of fins, and body type at an early age. My mother developed Asthma and the cavies had to go, however I was able to buy a registered Doberman instead. I was entralled with the Tan pattern in Dobermans. Not much information was available on genetics, though. Eventually we moved out to the country so I could have horses, too. Many of my friends bred rabbits, especially New Zealands, so I kept in touch with those people and sort of bred rabbits vicariously through my friends, LOL! One of my friends liked to use White NZ's to improve the body type in her Reds, and it was always amazing to see what color babies would come out of such crosses. I've also always had a fascination with the color red, and even studied the genetics of red in cat color. Did you know "solid" Orange (which actually has stripes since it is a tabby color) is only found on males, females are always Calicos (or Tortoise Shell, if you're in Europe). However, the very similar solid Red (also a tabby color) is found in both sexes. Just a bit of trivia I remember from way back then. I'm sure there's a lot more to it... I continued studying color in horses for many years into my adulthood.

In recent years, I had rabbits as pets, but didn't get into breeding them until I got interested in Angoras. In college, I had worked at the campus' outdoor museum, and had watched ladies demonstrate the washing, carding, and spinning of wool. I always wanted to learn to do that. Now with a partner who is animal-friendly, I can indulge in my interests that have laid dormant for so long.

The Otter Angora program came about mostly from from an act that was meant to be a joke. I had gotten Bob a pair of Tans because he loved the color and the way the breed looked. He found out, however, that he did not like the temperament, especially that of the doe. One day as he was fussing over my black German hybrid doe, Angel (his baby), I remarked that it really was too bad we couldn't produce the Tan color in an angora. Angel wound up being plopped in with Ember, the Tan buck, and the two chased each other around for a minute or so, at which point my brain kicked in and I decided this wasn't a good idea at all, and out she came. We never saw them connect. However, 31 days later... 9 little otter colored wigglies came into the world. I decided to keep a pair and breed them and see what happened. I liked what I got, and have since bred the Tan doe to a Giant buck and did the same with a pair of her babies. So I have two lines of Otters going right now. Breeding German into them dilutes the color, so I selected the French buck mentioned above, Vinnie, to enrich the color without resorting to using another short-haired breed and losing so much wool quantity and quality. I like the results I got, but will be using Germans and/or Giants in the future to improve the wool.

I still would like to intensify the color more, but until recently did not have any really good options for that goal. I could breed more Tan into the lines, but would lose out in body type and wool. I have heard of people breeding red Germans and Giants, but so far have been unable to locate one. Then I found out another breeder is using a Thrianta buck to develop red English Angoras.

Thriantas are a European breed recently accepted into ARBA. Genetically, many of them are Tans with the non-extension gene. They are very solidly built, friendly little guys with a complete set of rufus modifiers.

A complete set? Yes. What I mean by this is a current theory on rufus held by many Europeans that is beginning to circulate here. Judy Le Marchant explained it to me over dinner one evening at the ARBA convention in Indy. Rufus is known to be cumulative, but there is more to it than that. Not only do you need a lot of rufus modifiers to get a really red rabbit, they also need to be in the right locations. Say the rufus locations are A, B, C, D, and E. You have rabbits that have rufus in A and B. You can breed your reddest rabbits together forever and not see improvement. If you bring in a rabbit that has rufus in C, D, and E, even if its color is not any better that your rabbits' color, you should see improvement in at least some of the offspring. If one of them gets a full set, that is rufus in all 5 locations, you should get a significant improvement in color. How do you know what locations your rabbits have rufus in? You don't, unfortunately. At this time I do not think there is any way to determine this other than outcrossing to another line or breed and seeing if that results in improvement.

There is a group in Europe that is studying Thrianta color and what genetic combo seems to produce the best color. Judy has graciously promised to keep me updated on its findings, and I will pass them along when I get them.

So breeding the reddest to the reddest may not be enough, outcrossing to another line or even another breed may be necessary to get a full set of rufus modifiers. Thriantas, Belgian Hares, and New Zealand Reds have complete sets of rufus, and have been used in other breeds to improve color very successfully. I like Thriantas because of the stout way they are built, their relatively tight skin compared to meat and pelt breeds like NZs, and their cheerful personalities. When my friend is finished with her Thrianta buck, she is willing to make him available to me. While it does mean a new generation of shorthairs, I will not lose the Tan pattern (assuming he is genetically a Tan), wideband, body type, or the nice, tight skin my current Otter Angoras possess. Well worth dealing with a dominant gene that is easy to breed out, IMO. I'll also have the occasional red pop up because of the non-extension gene, but I very much doubt I will have any problems finding homes for those babies!

So between using the Thrianta buck for color and Germans and Giants for size, temperament, and wool, I hope in a few years to have something worth getting a Certificate of Development for from ARBA. I hope that developing this color in Giants will spark more interest in this glorious breed and get more of them on the show table!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Convention synopsis

Hi All!

Well, the largest ARBA Convention ever was exhausting, but informative and rewarding. For those of you know don't follow such stuff, the Best in Show over 25,000 other entries was none other than a tort English Angora doe! Owned by Linda Cassella of New York, I believe that this was the first time the doe was shown!

In the Skein and Garment contest, the British ruled, winning most of the classes. I was fortunate to meet up with Judy LeMarchant from England. Judy is a judge of rare breeds, and a genetics expert. She and I had a wonderful discussion regarding the genetics of the various incarnations of the color red. The Europeans have some interesting insights into how to breed for rufus. I'll get into that very soon, in the next post, in fact. Judy and others also seem to share my opinion of the whole Germn vs Giant controversy. More on that later, too. We also got into a spirited discussion of European vs American posing and body types. I walked out of that dinner with a whole lotta posting material, LOL! Judy promised to keep me updated on some research being done on Thriantas, the gorgeous little red breed recently accepted by ARBA.

I went with 6 rabbits and sold 4. My only disappointment was that I was the only person there who entered Junior Giant Angoras. So I won both my classes, but that doesn't say much. :( The judged liked both of the juniors I brought home very much, but he basically just confirmed what I already thought of them. The junior doe was one I bought just to show at Convention. You see, I messed up my entries and entered a rabbit I don't have, LOL! Now ARBA rules state that you can change ear numbers, but not classes. So since I entered a junior doe I don't have, I either had to find another or scratch. I was lucky to find two gorgeous german does at Jeannette Roberts' place, one I gave to a friend and the other I entered at Convention. She is one beautiful bunn, and she will stay on here. In the Spring, she'll be bred to Gruff.

One thing I will mention. I have debated with myself whether I would say anything. It has come to my attention from 2 sources that a certain person is making disparaging remarks to people about me and my rabbits. Specifically, this person criticises my knowledge of genetics and my breeding practices. Since this person has absolutely no knowledge of my records, I find this highly insulting. People who have bought rabbits from me can attest that I do provide full pedigrees with my rabbits and I hide nothing - even with crossbreds. Any time I hear a disparaging remark about another breeder, I always make a point of finding out where the person making the remark got their information. I advise you all to do the same. And that is all I'm going to say about it.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Rhinebeck & Convention

Well, I went, I delivered, I slept, and I left. Next time, as I told Claudia, I need to schedule some "ME" time at Rhinebeck. I delivered JG's Merry Marten to Claudia, some other bunns to my friend Barbara, bought a bar of soap from my friend Terry, and drooled over some gorgeous Icelandic sheep. I met Kim Parkinson, a lovely, funny, energetic lady I've been wanting to know a bit better for some time now, and took delivery of 3 bunns that I delivered to Ohio yesterday. I also had dinner with my friend Ellen and attended a meeting of the Icelandic sheep breeders. Ellen was my roomie for the night. I had bunns to get back home to be delivered to their new owners, so I left the next morning after breakfast.

However, I missed out on meeting some of my favorite bloggers. I would have loved to have met Helen from Bay Colony, and it would have been great to run into Kim. There were also bloggers there I've already met, all of whom I never caught up with.

I'm leaving Saturday for the ARBA Convention with four rabbits. I'm showing three, and coming home with two. The other two are up for sale, and hopefully will be going home with new owners.

These two bucks are nice! Their mom is a doe I bred, JG's Little Brat. Brat did well on the show table, took a BOB as a 6-8, but did not make senior weight. She weighs 9 lbs. Her mother's parents were purebred Germans who were registered as Giants, the doe weighing almost 13 lbs!. Her sire was Wiley's Zeigenbock, a 100% new import German who was just fabulous, and weighed in at 11.5 pounds. Their sire is AR's White Cocoa, a Giant buck whose gorgeous sister took BIS at PAngora's very first angora Specialty show last February in Lebanon, PA. Right now their coats are not in the best shape. They are nice and clean and mat free, but they need shorn. I have every expectation that, once shorn and with a new coat, they will do well on the show table. They have nice, stout commercial bodies. In my opinion, one is a bit flat in the shoulders, and the other a bit pinched in the HQ, but otherwise I cannot fault them.

I hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

More babies!

Winkie gave birth to nine this morning, one did not make it, but the others are fat & happy so far. Three whites and 5 otters, blue and black. It appears Winkie may be homozygous for the Tan pattern gene. I know she is homozygous for wideband, hopefully she also carries angora and some of these babies will be fuzzy... cross your fingers for me!

A couple of the babies have very reddish skin where their tan will be - I have come to link that to good color. I sure hope so! We'll see.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Big, huge brag!

Pictures to come...

One of my Junior Giant bucks took Best Opposite Sex of Breed recently in an Angora Specialty show at Lebanon, PA! This is the first "leg" one of my rabbits has ever won, mainly because I can never find enough competition. He is the result of a breeding of my doe, Brat, to the brother of a doe who beat her out for Best of Breed awhile back.

I entered Carmella, my little chocolate Otter doe, in the "Working Woolers" class we had. I'm not sure where she placed exactly, but she was the youngest rabbit in the class and so I didn't expect much. The judge loved her color and her density and wants to see her again when she has grown up and her adult coat has grown in. :D Persnickety, my black Otter doe, had to be shorn as she was showing signs of woolblock. She seems fine now, but this is something that seems to happen when you introduce shorthairs into an angora breeding program. Her sister Merry never seemed to miss a beat, I'm actually a little wistful at parting with her, Claudia!

I also have added another German doe to the herd, actually two, but as yet am unsure of which I am keeping. I don't even have their pedigrees yet, I bought them based soley upon their physical attributes and the reputation of their breeder. I've decided to call them Flopsie and Mopsie. Mopsie got sprayed quite thoroughly by a buck and, well, looks a bit like a mop right now, but I think she's going to be a swan and is probably the one I'll keep. Nice long, smooth body with loads of density! Her sister might be a bit less dense but is shorter-coupled and would do well in a Giant breeding program. I have someone in mind for her already, someone who has been quite nice to me and deserves a nice gift.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Close call

I was driving toward home tonight, planning on stopping off at a local watering hole to meet my boss and some coworkers for a cold one and a local delicacy, deep-fried hotdogs. A guy in front of me stopped to make a left-hand turn. So did I. Unfortunately, the guy behind me did not.

A full-size Ford van, one of the big business-type panel trucks, slammed into the rear of my new Explorer.

I was shook up but unhurt, and the Explorer was remarkably intact. The bumper will need replaced, but it looks like that is all.

That is why I will never, despite rising gas prices and "political correctness", ever, buy an economy (piece of crap) car. I can always make more money. Life and health, however, are irreplacable.

There are those who feel everyone else should be forced to put gas milage over safety, since that is the choice they made. Well, this is America, they do have the right to make that choice - BUT NOT FOR ME.

So next time you see someone driving an SUV, consider that rather than buying a vehicle to boost their ego, maybe they just want to live thru the unexpected bumps in life.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Too much to do, too little time...

I plan to cut my bunny population down to 8 rabbits. What with the new car payment and gas prices going up, I have had to work overtime every chance I get. I can't keep up with everything! And there have been other issues as well.

So far this weekend I have shorn a couple of bunns and gotten 3 others ready for show. But that should have been done a week ago. I also got some fiber blended for the Dingo sweater. I wanted to get more fiber dyed, but just never got to it. The Moorit fleece that I got from Claudia is just lovely, it is naturally very close in color to Dingo's fiber, I may not dye it after all. Instead, since I have a couple of white bunns in need of shearing, I may just dye their wool and add it to the blend.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Big weekend

So on Saturday, I have to deliver two bunns to a show in Hamburg, NY, then be back in time to present a seminar at a sportsmen's dinner. Then on Sunday, I have another rabbit show where I am showing 3 bunns and meeting someone in order to hopefully sell 3 woolers.

I am meeting some people at Convention to discuss two upcoming articles I am working on. So I'm not just teasing, I will have some interesting stuff coming up! There is a new theory as to how rufus works, and it makes a lot of sense. My otter program is going to take a slight change in direction as a result. I am excited, and am in the process of doing some weeding out of shorthairs. After Winky has this next litter, no more shorthairs until the next infusion of color, and then you might be pleasantly surprised st the direction I take - or not.

Baby update - the little otter buck had some ups & downs, finally got Winky mothering him properly and he was fat and sassy, when Winky squashed him somehow in the nestbox. Don't ask me how. I was ready to wring her little neck! GRRRRRR!!!!!!

Anyway, Winky is back in with Vinnie, and I'm sure she'll do better next time. She'd better! I told her if she didn't, she'd be dinner. And I wasn't kidding.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

What a weekend!

I got called away for a minor family emergency yesterday. When I got back, Winky, my F2 blue otter doe, had given birth - everywhere! (First litter.) 7 babies, one survived. I debated what to do with him (if indeed it is a him I sure hope so!), and decided to let Nature take its course and rebuilt the nest and put him in it. I fully expected him to be dead this morning. He was cold, but not dead. So I warmed him up (again) and held Winky while he ate. He's been fine all day, I had Winky feed him again and brought him in for the night.

I have had very bad luck with my otter bucks, they have accidents. I'm hoping this 3rd time is the charm and my streak of bad luck is over. He looks to be a blue or black otter, I don't know yet if he will be an angora. Winky is the result of breeding 2 F1s together, there is a 25% chance she doesn't carry angora. Even if she does, there is no guarantee this little guy is one, even tho' his dad is, because Mom is shorthaired, it's 50 -50 even if she does carry angora. She has such great color and she's double wideband, so I thought it worth the risk to keep her and breed her. Vinnie is the proud Papa.

If the little guy makes it, he most likely will sire some litters for me, even if he isn't an angora. I know he at least carries it, as well as dilute and chocolate.

Tomorrow I hope to get some pictures of the bunns I have for sale up on the web page. I also need to groom 5 bunns for show and tattoo them, plus more work on the NARBC newsletter.

Meanwhile, the chocolate shetland does not blend well with the mahogany angora for the Dingo sweater. The mahogany makes the gray in the shetland look blue. Yuck! Actually, if I were not trying to duplicate the color of my dog, it would be very pretty. The mahogany blends well with the Dingo fuzz and the tort angora, so the chocolate/gray shetland has to go.

So I'm looking for soft, fine brown wool without any gray. If you have some, I want it, please contact me. I don't care if it is in the grease or not.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Busy busy busy...

I got a lot accomplished in the past week. The white bunnies are moved into the bunny room, now that they are out of the weather (good thing, we got pounded today) I can get them ready for some shows this season. I had hoped to be at the Michigan Fiber Festival today, but it turns out I needed to get health certs for the bunns, and there was no way that was happening, my vet is very expensive.

So my plans are for September: Hamburg, NY on the 17th, Washington, PA on the 18th, then October: Marietta, OH on the 1st, Lebanon, PA on the 8th, and then Convention the week of the 23rd.

Meanwhile, I dyed a pound of Dumpling's wool today in anticipation of using it in the Dingo sweater. This is the first time I've dyed anything other than Easter eggs, so it was an adventure. So far, I have 1/2 pound of Dingo hair, 1/4 pound of tort angora, 1 pound of mahogany dyed angora, and 1 pound of chocolate-gray shetland wool. Dingo has dark chocolate tips to his fur, making him a dutch cocoa color on the surface, and buff underneath. So I plan to do a 2-ply yarn, one ply of the shetland and mahogany angora blended, and one ply of Dingo, tort angora and... ?
I need more material for the buff ply. I have at my disposal 1/2 pound of tussah silk, and/or I can use yearling mohair, or some lincoln/merino cross, or border leicester. I'm leaning toward the yearling mohair, for the softness factor. I can even brush it for fuzziness. Any thoughts?

Monday, August 08, 2005

Introducing...

... Storybook Dreams Snowman!



He is from 100% recently imported bloodlines and will be taking over in the Spring as our German herdsire.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Wideband, Tans, and Otters

Well, I did the best I could with photos. It is difficult to hold a squirming bunny, aim the camera, and part the belly fur all at the same time!

Elaine (congrats on becoming a Grandma!) had asked how to tell if an Otter carries double wideband. Technically, an Otter can't, if it does it is genetically a Tan. However, at this early stage of development, I refer to all of them as Otters because of the poor color development. Tans have firey red markings, and I have a way to go before I achieve that, if ever, because Angora hair by its nature dilutes whatever color it has. Too bad I'm not trying to develop Tans and Otters in Satin angoras, I'd have better color!

At any rate, the Wideband gene that controls the belly color in reds and tan pattern rabbits is represented by W for the dominant and w for the recessive. The recessive wideband gene is what affects the belly color. However, its dominant partner is an incomplete dominant. So, 3 tan pattern rabbits with ww, Ww, and WW can be told apart by close examination of the coloring of the belly fur.

The recessive wideband gene has several effects on the Tan markings. It extends the tan markings and increases the ticking along the sides. It also removes the undercolor from the belly so that the belly is white, cream, fawn, or red to the skin, depending upon the amount of rufus modifiers present. I have found that with the angoras, the most reliable indicator of wideband is the presence and amount of slate blue undercolor on the belly.

Here are some examples, although I acknowledge that the photos aren't that great:


double wideband

This little girl is a Chocolate Tan angora with 2 recessive wideband genes. You will note that where her belly fur is parted, it is cream colored to the skin, there is no slate blue undercolor at all. She does have some undercolor in her lap marks, but that is permissible.

single wideband

This little lilac otter buck is short haired. He does have some slate blue undercolor, but it is pale and confined to the lower 1/3 of the hair shaft. He has only 1 recessive wideband gene.


no wideband


This little chocolate otter doe is also shorthaired, but you can easily spot her undercolor. It extends much further up the hair shaft. She has no recessive wideband genes.

Someday when I have three tan pattern angoras at the same stage of development I will repost photos that show the undercolor differences better than these do.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Too hot!

... to do much of anything. Whew! My first priority for the blog is to get the pics of the otters up. The second is to finish up posts on a couple of subjects near and dear to my heart. I had a wonderful telephone conversation last night with an old mentor. He had some eye-opening points which changed my position somewhat on a belief that I had about certain genetic terms. I promise, it will be an interesting post, and will no doubt stir up some more debate.

Meanwhile, I need to make more cage space.

Monday, July 25, 2005

German vs Giant?

OK, I'm editing this post because an apology is in order. Two wrongs do not make a right. So Chris, I apologize for blasting you.

What this is all about:

Chris, someone I consider a friend, publicly called another friend of mine, Terri, a liar. Why? Because Terri has some beautiful rabbits, whom she shows as Giants, and calls them Giants on her web page. They also happen to be 100% German, and from some darned good bloodlines. One of them happens to be bred by none other than ME. A rabbit Chris bred is the sire of one of the rabbits, and Chris feels Terri therefore is calling her a Giant breeder.

I cannot comment further without getting angry again. This matter could have and should have been handled privately, I do not understand why it was not. Chris is someone I respect and look up to and I am very upset about this whole situation.

However, as I indicated below, public tongue-lashings are wrong, and I was wrong to have jumped on Chris as I did. I did exactly what I accused her of doing, and I'm ashamed of myself and sorry for doing that. So Chris, I hope you can forgive me.

And I hope you straighten things out with Terri in a manner that is mutually satisfactory.

Public disagreements

I just wanted to say that I do not agree with public accusations and tongue-lashings. Especially if the one doing it has ever been the victim of such themselves. I've had some very spirited disgreements with others regarding things I have said, but I have always born in mind a phrase I read in a Sunday School lesson once:

"The relationship is more important than the point."

I feel that when someone buys something from me, it is theirs to do with as they please. I no longer have anything to say about it. If I don't like what they do with it, then I don't sell them another. I also take a great deal of pride when something formerly mine is featured with pride on another's site.

There's already too much animosity in the world, IMO. Why create more?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

NC bunny gathering

Well, I won't rehash what others have described and photographed so well. Chris and Leslie did a wonderful job of documenting the meeting, which was fun and rewarding for all involved. Thank you, Elaina, for hosting it and us!

I had to have a bunny put down last night. Somehow, a little 4 week old chocolate otter buck got his foot caught in the floor wire and nearly tore half his hind leg off. I sobbed hysterically as I worked for about 10 minutes before I could get him loose, and it was a hopeless situation. Yes, he could have lived, but he would have have been a "special needs" bunny for the rest of his life, and I don't know that I could have found the right home for him. So I took him to the vet's to be humanely put down, as neither Bob nor I could bring ourselves to do it, and my meat rabbit breeder friend was at work and thus not available.

The other 3 otters appear to be does. If so, I'm back to square one in breeding myself a buck.

I did confirm one thing - one of the surviving otters has 2 recessive wideband genes! That means Vinnie does indeed carry wide band! I had hoped he did, now I know for sure! :) I hope to post pictures this weekend detailing how to determine the likely wideband genes of tan pattern bunnies.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

I'm baaaack...

Just a note to let my fellow bloggers know I made it back from the bunny event in NC all in one piece - and so did Polly, my new wheel. Expect a full report later.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Aaaahhh...


This is Goldie, my new Exploder. I finally traded in my old Exploder after 214,000 miles. When ball joints start wearing out within a year of getting new ones, and what with the prices wars going on between the manufacturers, I decided it was time to trade my beloved Exploder in.

But I now have the benefits of a radio that works (soon to have Sirius installed!), air conditioning that works, and a nice information panel that tells me (among other things) how many miles are left on my tank of gas and what my average mpg is. Not to mention a CD player, and a host of other cool things I'd learned to do without.

And DH finally got the central air in the house fixed. Woo hooo! I don't know how to act!

The indoor bunnies are greatfully drinking the cool, dry atmosphere in, and now I only need to ice down the outdoor bunnies. The bunny room is not yet complete, it will be someday, but progress is being made.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Special Project

This

Dingo

plus this

Chocolate Shetland Wool

plus this

Vinnie

will someday equal this (or something close to it.)

Sweater

Dingo has been with me through thick & thin for 11 years now. He is really my son's dog, but he sheds too much and DS doesn't want to have to clean up after him constantly. So I am brushing him regularly and stuffing the wool into a bag, to be blended with the shetland wool pictured above and angora from Vinnie. I will probably also dye Dumpling's next shearing a nice mahogany color (which I found an excellent source for at Claudia's) and add that to the mix, as I want a fuzzy sweater from a fuzzy dog. DS thinks the idea is pretty funny, but he will have a piece of Dingo (that doesn't shed!!!) for the rest of his life when I am finished. I might do one for my daughter and myself as well, depending on how much time I have this winter and how much fuzz Dingo can contribute.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Finally got all the bunns shorn. One thing I enjoy about shearing the younger bunns is evaluating the quality and quantity of wool. I was very pleasantly surprised with a young black otter doe yesterday. I probably shouldn't have been, BGG is her sire and he has great genes to pass on. Her solid black sister is just as nice, with the same deep charcoal color down to the roots. This sister has a nice white spot in the middle of her forehead, however, so she will go to a wooler home. Also going to another home will be the marten doe from the same litter.

The black otter doe will be bred to a solid blue buck who is also from the otter program. I have no otter bucks, I let my two F1 bucks go and I lost my gorgeous F2 buck. The solid blue buck is his full brother, so he should pass on some nice color. My blue otter doe, sister to the bucks, will most likely be bred to Vinnie in a month or so. Vinnie has a litter with some otters in it whose color looks very promising, but it is hard to tell right now, they don't even have their eyes open yet.

I think I've finally figured out how to slow down time - breed rabbits! ;)

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Genetics of reds, tans, and wideband

When I posted on Claudia's AG_Angoras_Community yahoo group that I am developing Otter (to eventually be Tan) angoras, I got a lot of interest and questions about red, wideband, and otter genetics. Now I am no expert on genetics, but I have bred animals almost all my life, from cavies to horses, and I study a lot, so I *think* I have a pretty good grasp of what these particular genes are about. I'm writing this assuming that the readers have a basic grasp of rabbit color genetics. So here goes:

Reds:

Reds are essentially Chestnuts or Chocolate Agoutis with the non-extension gene ee and rufous modifiers to intensify the red. The recessive ee removes all or most of the black pigment in the hair shaft. For some reason in Agoutis it does a more complete job than in selfs, demonstrated by the relatively clean color of Reds and Fawns compared to the masks on Torts. Reds with Chocolate, or bb, instead of B_ for Black seem to have the cleanest color. I suspect the reason for this is, being lighter, Chocolate colored smut just blends in better. Reds without the wideband gene will have light colored bellies. The recessive wideband gene ww plus rufous modifiers is what colors in the bellies of Reds and Tans. The wideband gene works by doubling the size of the yellow intermediary band of the hair shaft.

So the ideal genetics of a self red would be AAbbCCDDeeww + rufous. However, some variation will work, so the combination of A_B_C_D_eeww + rufous works also.

Tans and Otters:

The Tan pattern is represented by at. It is recessive to A, or Agouti, but dominant over a, or Self. They come in all 4 self colors, Black, Blue, Chocolate, and Lilac. A rabbit with the Tan pattern looks kinda like a self-colored rabbit that scampered through some paint. It's belly, chest, parts of its legs, triangle, eye circles, nostrils, and pea spots in front of the ears, are light or red colored, depending upon other factors. The other factors are wideband, rufous, and chinchilla. It also will have brindling on its flanks and quarters where the belly color meets the self color.

A Tan rabbit's genetic code is ideally atat??CC??ww + rufous. Since at is recessive to A, a Tan can only have another at or an a in the second position.

What makes a Tan different from an Otter or a Marten?

An Otter does not require the wideband gene. As a result, the tan markings will be smaller, will not go clear down to the skin, and will have a slate undercolor. There will be little if any brindling.

A Marten has at least one chd, or chinchilla, gene ideally paired with another chd or a c. The chin gene removes the yellow from the hair shaft, leaving only black or a silvery color. The wideband gene is not necessary in a Marten, but I feel it does make them more striking, as it increases the size and depth of the silver markings.

Self Reds have been produced from rabbits with the atat genes. Reportedly, they are Tans with the ee gene. An Otter with the ee gene results in what we call a Fox or Tort Marten.

More information on these genes can be found in Rabbit Coat Color Genetics by Glenna M Huffman.

I hope this answers some questions, it took awhile for me to understand it as well as I do, and I still have many questions myself. But if you really want to know more, read Glenna's book. It is well worth the time spent!

And of course, the obligatory pics: :)

Blue Otter

Black Otter

Friday, June 17, 2005

Good news... sort of...

Well, we ruled out coccidiosis as the cause of the 2 babies' deaths. Enteritis is felt to be the cause, but is one of those conclusions that is arrived at by process of elimination, there is no test for it. Meanwhile, the remaining 3 are hale and hearty, and really enjoying the break in the weather that we've been blessed with, as am I. I've been devoting myself to painting and rug-scrubbing before it heats up again! I also have 4 bunns due for shearing.

I've been knitting a baby blanket for my new neice, Victoria, out of the Creamsicle yarn. My brother and his wife adopted her after years of waiting. I don't have enough to make it the size I'd like, so I am considering crocheting a white, pure angora border around it. I'll be sure to post a pic when I'm done!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Lost a couple little ones...

I came home last night and DH said he'd found a dead baby.
This was one of my German/Giant crosses, around 7 weeks old,
and pretty much promised to someone. Well, I went out and
another had died. Diahrrea. DH had put the other in a bag in the
freezer, I got it out and looked, same thing. Well, at least it isn't
VHD! I haven't changed feed, and the bag I'm using now is from
the same lot as last week's bag, and I go through about a bag a week,
so it isn't old or moldy or anything. I've only every lost one other
baby in 3 years like this, it was at 3 weeks and I'm sure it was
entiritis . So I removed all the hay from the cage, no noxious weeds
or anything. No other rabbits were effected, and the other 3 babies
look fine this morning, as does Mom.

The only thing I can think of is the day before when I had changed
their water bottle out I used the half-frozen bottle DH had put in
the cage with them for cooling. This is something I normally do.
Then I put another frozen 2 liter bottle in the cage with them. I'm
wondering if the bottle I used for water had been thawed and re-
frozen. Bacteria could have gotten a foothold that way.

So... I'm not doing that anymore. They'll only get fresh water in
their bottles from now on, and as the ice bottles thaw I am dumping
them out and refilling and re-freezing them.

At least my favorite little buck wasn't one of them. It is amazing how quickly diahrrea kills these little guys. All 5 were lively and hungry that morning when I fed them. DH found the first one around noon. At any rate, nobody will be going anywhere for a few weeks while I make sure everything is under control here and it is nothing contagious.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

More new babies!

Six new babies today! 3 blacks and 3 chocolates!

Inkie's babies

I have been wanting a chocolate and a lilac for some time now. So now I have 3 chocolates, a lilac can't be far behind! The Mom is Inkie, whom I will post a pic of in the near future, the proud Dad is Vinnie, who can be seen here:

http://jansgiants.com/boys.html

Baby update

Brat and her babies have been moved outside to a roomier cage with a bottomless nestbox:

Brat Babies nearly 6 weeks

Meanwhile, Dumpling's 2 babies are out scrambling around and starting to eat solid food:

Dumpling babies nearly 3 weeks

I keep a lot of hay in the cage to make it easy for them to get around. It means I have to clean it more often, but oh well...

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Interview

This is a fun game being passed around amongst fiber bloggers. The rules are at the end of this post. Here are my answers to Leslie's questions:


1. Springers are wonderful things. How did you wind up with Banjo and where did he get his name?

My SO, Bob, had a wonderful dog named Harry. Harry was named after the policeman who saved his life. It seems Harry was a young pup found wandering along the Parkway East in Pittsburgh during rush hour. Officer Harry rescued him. Officer Harry was a friend of Bob's family and asked them if they wanted a dog. Bob was looking for a hunting dog, and Harry (whom we think was a cock-a-poo) appeared to have spaniel in his background, so Bob took Harry in. Harry turned out to be the best hunting dog Bob and his friends ever hunted over, and had at least 100 grouse shot over him. He was also Bob's constant companion. By the time I entered Bob's life over 8 years ago, Harry was getting up there in years. I knew his eventual loss would be devastating for Bob, so I looked around and found a litter of Springers available. I asked Bob how he would select a new puppy, and he said he'd select the most aggressive (not mean aggressive, determined aggressive) dog in the litter. My kids and I went out to see the litter, there were 11 pups in the litter! As they literally flowed out of their basket, one came right to me and crawled into my arms. I asked the breeder which was the most aggressive pup in the litter, and she said it was the one I was holding. So he was the one I took home. On the way home, my kids found all his ticklish spots, and we named him Banjo because of the motion his hind leg made when they scratched him.

We brought Banjo home, and Bob was not particularly pleased, as we already had his dog Harry and my dog, Dingo. He finally came over to see Banjo, looked into that funny, wrinkly face and fell in love. Banjo, meanwhile, when sat down in the middle of the floor, looked around, decided he was home, and never looked back. Never whimpered or whined, and immediately made a place for himself in our home and our hearts. He was also the Puppy From Hell, but that's another story. I do have him to thank for making it necessary to buy new furniture!

When Harry's time came one night at the age of nearly 17, I called Bob home from work, and Harry died in his arms. As Bob held Harry and wept, Banjo sat beside him and gently licked his face, as if to say, "It's alright Dad, I'll take care of you now." He did his job - and still does.


2. Why did you choose angoras as a fiber animal to breed, and why did you choose the breed you have?

I live in a small rural town and have essentially a postage stamp for a yard. Sheep or goats were obviously out of the question. We had had a pet mini lop named Georgie that we just loved, and when she passed away at the age of 6, she left a hole in our hearts. So I got a black German Hybrid and we named him George. George was just a big, lovable fluff ball! Then came Angel, another black german hybrid. I wanted easy-care, productive rabbits, and Germans are it. The more I learned, the more involved I wanted to be. I got some Giants so I could show them, and did quite well. Then I let some of the Giants go and got purebred Germans to improve my bloodlines because my Giants matted. I now keep a line of purebred Germans, a Giant/German cross line, and colored German hybrids.


3. Do you live in the area where you were born, and if not, what brought you to the place you live now?

I was born in New Kensington, PA, about an hour away from where I live now. The rest of my family lives down South now, in Virginia, S. Carolina, and Florida. I moved where I am now to be with Bob, and it gave me the excuse I needed to change my career to a computer consultant. Bob and I love PA, we love the hills, the mountains, the valleys, the streams, the fields, the smell of the woods, tilled earth, newly mown hay, and we love to hunt. We love the change in seasons, and we love to ski, although we almost never get to anymore.

4. Are your interests lasting ones or do you enjoy getting involved in new activities, leaving the old ones behind?

I find I usually don't leave an interest behind for too long. I have raised a number of different animals since I was a kid, either animals of my own, or I'd help my friends with theirs. I've had dogs, cats, cavies (guinea pigs), horses, and now rabbits. My desire to learn to hand spin was born in college, when I did work-study down at Fort New Salem at Salem College in WV. I knew it was something I wanted to do someday, and eventually I found the right partner to enable me! I used to knit alot when I was a young mother, then left it behind for awhile when I split with my husband and had to work to support myself. Now that I have my own yarn to knit with, it is even more satifying than it was before! :)

5. What's your favorite activity on a rainy day?

Boy, that's a tough one! Playing with baby bunnies, just sitting and shooting the breeze with Bob, spinning, knitting, reading a good book, and participating in debate forums (one of which I own), not necessarily in that order.


The Rules of The Interview

1. Leave me a comment saying “interview me.”

2. I will respond by asking you five questions here. They will be different questions than the ones above.

3. You will update YOUR blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions

The first 2 people to ask will be interviewed!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Baby update

Dumpling and her babies continue to frustrate me. She wasn't feeding them enough, and when my DH pointed out a rat - yes, a RAT! - hanging out around the cages I thought perhaps Dumpling was scared and that was why she wasn't feeding them. Poor scrawny little things! So I brought them inside the house and placed the nest in a larger pet carrier and put it inside the cage with her. Viola! Full tummies for 2 days straight! Then suddenly scrawny again. I took her out and held her while they nursed this morning. They went frantically from teat to teat, apparently not getting much. The teats did not have pink tips like they do when they've been nursed on. So I put them back in the nest and got Dumpling some fresh timothy and dandelions from the yard and left her munching while I went to the Great Lakes Fiber Festival in Wooster, OH. When I came back, I checked the 2 babies and their tummies did seem fuller, so I got more greens for Dumpling and left them be.

I'm going to breed her back on Wednesday, I sure hope the second litter goes better than this one!

Meanwhile, at the fiber fest I bought a set of Denise interchangeable knitting needles, an extension for them, and 8 oz of tussah silk fiber. Now, to get that other yarn plied so I can start on a new batch!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Interesting...

I don't plan on putting much political, religious, or philosophical content in this blog, but here is some interesting information about choosing the Pope that I got from a friend.

As I understand it, Ratzinger was not the Cardinals' first choice. That was Cardinal Hans Grapje. Grapje was educated in a Catholic school in The Hague and, as a young man, aspired to become a priest. But was drafted into the Army during WWII and spent two years co-piloting B17s until his aircraft was shot down in 1943 and he lost his left arm. Captain Grapje spent the rest of the war as a chaplain, giving spiritual aid to soldiers, both allies and enemy. After the war, he became a priest, serving as a missionary in Africa, piloting his own plane (in spite of his handicap) to villages across the continent.

In 1997, Father Grapje was serving in Zimbabwe when an explosion in a silver mine caused a cave-in. Archbishop Grapje went down into the mine to administer last rights to those too severely injured to move. Another shaft collapsed, and he was buried for three days, suffering multiple injuries, including the loss of his right eye. The high silver content in the mine's air gave him Purpura, a life-long condition characterized by purplish skin blotches.

Although Cardinal Grapje devoted his life to the service of God as a scholar, mentor, and holy man, church leaders felt that he should never ascend to the Papacy.

They felt that the Church would never accept a One-Eyed, One-Armed, Flying, Purple Papal Leader.

*****************************************

BTW, Dumpling and her 2 babies are doing much better since I moved them inside. :)

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Baby update

Dumpling's babies seem to be doing OK. I found wool wrapped around one today, I quickly cut the wool off and, since the baby looked like it needed a drink, convinced Brat to nurse it for a few minutes. She was happy to oblige. Dumpling's belly only has one teat that appears to be nursed on. Odd. Which I why I got Brat involved, as she seems to have loads of milk supply. Later I took another look at the two bunnies, both seem fat and happy at the moment:

Dumpling babies


Meanwhile, Brat and her babies are doing just great:

Example

There always seems to be at least one camera-shy baby, LOL!

DH and I spent a restful, if unsuccessful, weekend at camp hoping to bag a spring gobbler. We got 12 Leyland Cypress trees planted, burned a bunch of cardboard boxes and old feed bags that have accumulated around here, fed the fish in the pond, and I spun some of the angora mixed fiber that I got from Terry Kunst. I decided to spin two different colors and ply them together. I'll post a picture when I've plied them. I'm happy that I got this bunch spun finer than I've managed before. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

New babies!

Abundant Fastnacht (aka Dumpling) has FINALLY produced a litter! Billy Goat's Gruff, my 100% German buck (sired by Wiley's Zeigenbock, my late 100% import buck), is the proud father. Unfortunately, like many first-time moms, Dumpling made a mistake - she had the 7 babies in the front of her nestbox, and not in the nest she'd built in the back. Only 2 made it into the warmth of the wool she lined the nest with, and lived. They seem to be fine, and well fed, so I am going to let Nature take its course and leave them there tonight. I had considered bringing them in for the night, but we are going hunting this weekend so they're going to have to get used to the cool nights anyway. I did fill the front of the nestbox with hay, so if they clung to Mom when she was finished feeding them, they'd roll back into the wool. I also added more wool. The 2 did OK the night they were born, so they should be OK. If not, MOM will get bred back and we'll try again in another 31 days...

Meanwhile, my sweetheart has decided to buy me the Kromski Polanaise wheel my friend Chris from Woolybuns had for sale. Awesome! I can't wait to get it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Brat's Babies at 3 weeks


Well, here are two of them, anyway. The other three, feeling apparently a bit camera-shy, are hiding behind Mom:



Brat is showing excellent condition, I think she's actually filled out a bit, good constitution for a nursing Mom! I like to give my does a month off after weaning a litter, in the meantime I am considering whom I will breed her to next. I am considering her full brother, but I'm not crazy about that idea. However, I would like to breed her to a relative of her sire, Wiley's Zeigenbock, out of S├╝mmchen by Heinks. Since "Billy" only sired one litter while he was alive, my choices are extremely limited. Since I have a couple of months yet to find the right sire, I will continue trying to locate such a buck, and buy him or at least borrow his services. A brother or half-brother of Billy would be ideal.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

I have a STASH!!!!

Someone made a joke to me awhile ago that you aren't really a serious handspinner until you have a stash. Until now, besides the angora I had stuffed in bags, I didn't really feel like I had a "stash". Well, thanks to a trade I made with Terry Kunst, I have one, and here it is:

Stash

There is Shetland, Border Leicester, Blue-Faced Leicester, some Lincoln-Merino cross, some Mohair, some Border Leicester-Rambouillet cross, some blends, one with flax, another with Alpaca, a bunch of angora-merino, YUM!!!! A good bit of it is in the grease, so I get to learn to wash it. This will be interesting!

I think I'll be pretty busy, LOL!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

It came today...

... Alden Amos' Big Book of Handspinning. Funny, Alden's pic on the back doesn't look anything like I imagined. I had envisioned a slim, rather scholarly, kind of bookish guy, not a cross between a grizzly and a teddy bear! LOL!

So I'm learning a whole lot of technical terms for what I've been doing so far. Good to know! Eventually I will buy a traditional wheel, and from reviewing the table of contents, I think once I hit those chapters I'll be going to the Great Lakes Fiber Festival much better prepared to be trying out wheels. My DH has his heart set on a Kromski Polanaise my internet buddy Chris from Woolybuns has for sale. He just loves the way it looks, as do I. It would look great in our livingroom, although I'd really like one better for traveling. Can't do both right now - we have some serious remodeling to do to the house, so the budget just won't do it.

Decisions, decisions!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Turkeys and bunnies

I am a hunter, and it often conflicts with my other interests. Last weekend was no exception, I went hunting for Spring Gobbler instead of going to Maryland Sheep & Wool. We did hear some gobbling while we were out hunting, but could not entice a gobbler in to get a shot. But DH and I spent quality time alone in the woods together, and that is always a good thing. We did see turkey later, when we weren't hunting, of course! At any rate, the dogs got to run free all they wanted, we got the logging trails seeded, and it was a good weekend. There's always the Great Lakes fiber show at the end of the month...

...And on to bunnies! They won't be 2 weeks old until tomorrow, but I couldn't resist snapping a shot of the little cuties:

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

One week old!

Here are the 5 surviving babies at one week of age. I had a heck of a time getting them to hold still, they're very lively! No idea of sexes at this point, I've trained myself to not even look until the age of 6 weeks or so, otherwise I come up with different results every time!

babiesat1week

Sometime over the weekend they should all open their eyes and really start looking like baby bunnies. Over the following week, they'll creep out and start to explore their surroundings, driving their mom nuts, and their personalities will really start to show. I can't wait! :D

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Spinning

I finally worked up the courage yesterday to spin up a bag of multicolor roving given to me by Terry Kunst. It weighed nearly half a pound, I forget what blend of fiber? Angora and merino perhaps? At any rate, it was dyed a delicious combination of orange, grape, and lime pastels, with a hint of white here and there. As I was spinning it, I wanted a Creamsicle in the worst way, LOL! I was waiting until I felt confident enough in my spinning to not ruin it. Here it is:

Creamsicle yarn

Friday, April 29, 2005

...and then there were 5...

We lost a wee one today. He must have clung to his mother too tightly and been dragged out of the nestbox, because his little belly was absolutely full. Banjo, our Springer, discovered him when I went to feed the bunns. I thought I saw the little tail move, so I tried in vain to warm him up and resussitate him, to no avail.

Such is the world of bunnies. I have better nursery cages outside, I thought keeping Mom and babies inside would help prevent this, but baby bunnies are very delicate, and it doesn't take much to kill them, unfortunately.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Babies!

So far, 6 little wigglies have come into the world for me tonight. They've been much anticipated, their grandfather was only with me for a short time, and he was easily the best angora I've ever owned - and may ever have. This was the first litter for his daughter - Brat. I usually name my animals according to their personality, and this is no exception. Brat built a nest - kind of - in the corner of the cage instead of in the box I supplied for the purpose. I fixed that. She also pulled very little wool from her belly for them. As warm as it is, it isn't that big of a concern, but pulling wool also exposes the teats for nursing, so I fixed that, too.

babies

spinning

I plied the two spools and wound them into a ball. Quite a difference!

Example

I can't wait to figure out what I'm going to do with it! The bulky white I'll probably make into something to wear while out hunting in the REALLY cold weather - like hunting mittens, and/or socks. The gray will make a nice hat and scarf, I think.

Monday, April 25, 2005

spinning

Last night I started on a bag of angora I had carded. For the last couple of years, I have just stashed the wool in bags and left it sit. I tried spinning it just as it was, and boy, was it ugly! So I tried out my new hand carders and viola! I started spinning last night and could not stop until I'd spun all of it, then I carded some more. :) Then I grabbed a couple more bags and carded them. I spun up an entire spool, and will do another tonight. Even DH said how good it looks! Still a bit chunky, but much finer and more consistent than my previous efforts. Some people card angora, some don't. Eventually I probably won't, either, but for now it works. I also want to buy some cashmere and silk fiber to blend with angora. I have expensive tastes, LOL!


getting better

Sunday, April 24, 2005

breeding program

So I am developing a new color in Giant Angoras, can you guess what it is? I had two nice, if small, F2s, but they became victims of a mishap. Since I no longer have my F1 bucks, I no longer have any bucks of the color I am working towards. So I am debating as to the best way to get to where I need to be. I could purchase another short-haired buck of the variety I want, but I would have all short-haired babies again, since short hair is dominant over angora. However, I would also have all the genes I need and no unwanted recessive genes. But I would also have to work more on wool length and texture, and size, body type, and temperament. Or, I could purchase an angora buck who has some of the color genes I want - and some I don't. But size, body type, and temperament should improve.

Essentially, I want to bring rufous modifiers and wideband genes in, without other recessives like satinizing and color extension. Satin Angoras currently are the easiest breed to find rufous and wideband in, but that would be primarily in the reds and coppers, so not only would the recessive satin gene pop up, likely the ee would, as well. What to do, what to do...?

Meanwhile, I carded a bag of Angel's wool yesterday, and I'm going to have a whirl at spinning it today. :)

Saturday, April 23, 2005

New stuff!

Today a lightly used pair of hand-carders arrived at my doorstep courtesy of my friend Terri Robertson of Living Water Farm. I can't wait to use them, I have a lot of angora that I just tossed in bags that needs sorted and carded into a more usable consistency.

Also, now that I have a logo for my rabbitry, I need to design business cards and get some printed up. I'm going to print some up on the inkjet to get started, but want more professionally done so the ink doesn't run if they get wet. Accidents do happen!

Meanwhile, a doe I've been waiting to get babies from has built a beautiful nest and will deliver any day now, assuming she really is pregnant and isn't just faking it. Rabbits do have false pregnancies, and it would be just my luck that this is one of them, only time will tell. I've bred this doe so many times, I forgot to write it down last time. I do believe it as been a full month since she was bred, though, so it's looking good at this point. Keep your fingers crossed!

Friday, April 22, 2005

Blogging?

So many people I know have their own blog, I guess it is about time I had one - although I wonder if I will have time to keep up with it. I breed Giant and German Angora rabbits, I am learning to spin their fiber, I edit the NARBC newsletter (seldom get it out on time, but I do get it out), and I hunt, as well as working a full-time job, hosting a political debate website, and Moderating on a hunting website. One good thing about a blog, I doubt I'll get into too many arguments with people as to how it is run. ;)

I'll post pictures of bunnies and get into my goals for the rabbitry in later posts, right now I have an overdue newsletter to get out. It's done, just needs some minor touches before being emailed to the printer. Bye for now!