Friday, December 30, 2011

Ohio Holiday and Candy


DH is from Ohio so we spent our holiday with family there. I loved the abundance of evergreens. It was like every yard was a finely arranged Christmas tree lot. Once I see that in writing, it does not sound so nice, but it WAS beautiful...so beautiful that I actually forgot to take any pictures! What a shame.  I fell in love with a nearby quaint little town named Canal Winchester.  Even the boarded up old buildings looked precious. I don't know how they did it.

Anyhow, I got super lucky and was able to spend a couple of hours with English Angora breeder, Candy Haenszel.  Thank you, thank you, thank you! She was generous enough to let me visit with her and her rabbits.  We had a very nice conversation about angora rabbit wool and body type, genetics, fiber and rabbit raising best practices.  I originally contacted her because I was interested in her genetics booklet.  I picked up one while I was there and read it a number of times on the way home. Good, solid genetic stuff for Angora, and other, rabbit folks.  I particularly liked the section on gene linkage and also the handy chart that sorted out what all the breeds call different colors.  I found all those different color names so confusing when I was looking for my mystery kit...which by the way, might actually be a lilac pearl.  Geez...Just when I thought that problem was solved, I am reminded that those little shaded ones are tricky. Candy suggested waiting a bit more and reexamine the eye color...just to be sure.
Blue/gray = lilac pearl and brown = chocolate pearl.      
Here is Candy's website:  http://nexgenaccess.com/~cdh/ and yes, everything at Candy's is just as beautiful as it looks on her Web site.

Also, I just want to give a BIG THANK YOU to my son (and my eldest daughter as backup) for taking great care of all my rabbits when we were gone these 13 days. Good help is hard to find in the rabbit world. He had never watched rabbits before, nor even cared for them.  He was patient with my clipboard with miles of notes about each rabbit and annoying almost daily check-in phone calls.

AND even though my daughter prank-called me to say that my son had not been to my house in three days because she thought it would be the most hilarious thing ever....AND even though my son took pictures of himself holding the kits up like they were lunch, I appreciate them both.  My kids are rascally.  The apple...uh,  rabbit, doesn't fall far from the tree.  






Monday, December 19, 2011

Baby Pictures...with video

Just a couple pictures of Little Sun and the babies. We are enjoying them so much. They have begun nibbling on hay and oats. I have a cute video of Little Sun nursing the little ones, but can't seem to upload it now. Rats! I'll keep trying, but long overdue Christmas shopping and family visits outrank me playing on my blog :) SO..... It might have to wait. Hope everyone has a joyous holiday season. Be safe out there and enjoy what God has given us. Merry Christmas!

OK, I finally got that video uploaded. Here is Little Sun nursing her babies.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What color am I?


So I had this little mystery kit...

11 days old
3 days old

Cooperative bunny
Sorry...doing this one-handed.  
15 Days Old
 who has sable, smoke pearl, lilac pearl, REW, a variety of torts and an assortment of self colors in her pedigree.

Dam is lilac tort.
Sire is black.

I have asked my buddies, asked my FB friends (the English Angora ones), and posted on Rabbit_Genetics group.  I have one answer for almost every possibility so far...that pesky C locus!  I originally wanted to focus on blacks, but I am liking the puzzle (and the color) so far.

I'm not the best photographer so I've started over from scratch and took more pics with a black background and full spectrum lighting.

I thought it was a lilac pearl at first.  I had it on some mighty good authority that it looks like chocolate pearl (depending on camera lighting), but there were some pretty knowledgeable votes for lilac tort as well.  In real life, the kit's body was not really orangey-beige enough for lilac tort, though.  BUT, it does have chinchilla light in its background so pearl was a real possibility.  I thought the kit was one of the pearls (angora term for sable point)...I just was not sure which one.  Rats!  So I had to wait for it to grow a bit.
     
So...after Terri on the FB English Angora Breeders page passed along this great kit color ID site...
Northeast Lionhead Kit Color Guide Plus
and checking out this link about a similarly colored angora on another web site Wenut Angoras Kit Lilac Point/Cream, I think we've finally got it.

THE VERDICT:  
CHOCOLATE PEARL! ....OK, I was really a LILAC PEARL...go figure :)



Friday, December 9, 2011

Everyone Loves Chocolate

Our chocolate senior doe Hershey is once again growing wool like mad.  I'm a little worried that she will peak before mid-January when we head to Waxahatchie, but I'm not too terribly upset.  She's just so darn beautiful to me.  So just in case she blows her coat, we'll head to Cleburne to see about getting her pretty self registered.

There are eyes under there...
Hershey is a low maintenance girl.
Quick go-over with wide tooth comb and pet blower, once a week.
That's it...and she looks beautiful.  


All done.
I'm outta here!...Where's my parsley!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Kits!....and I have papers to write.


Cimmerian x Little Sun: Kits of Distraction
Hi there, Little Sun! How've ya been these
last say...3 minutes?!
This week has been a hectic week.  All my papers/presentations are due and finals have begun.  Two months ago when I decided that a litter of EAs were in order, I knew that this week would be a bit of a collision.  Back then I felt like I would be firmly in control.  However, I failed to take into account the lure of kits in a nestbox.  Little Sun and Cimmerian's breeding brought two new kits into our little world.  Those pesky little beings occupy much of my thinking this week...what colors are they? what sex are they? are they still OK? I'd better go check...the list goes on.  My Google-ing expeditions have reached a fever pitch.  Of course, I am OK with that ever expanding "quest for knowledge", but what about those other quests that I am usually equally fascinated with...like learning PHP for my spring semester special project, honing my web developing skills with a now dusty edition of Flux, finishing those two research papers and one presentation?  How those once loved pet projects pale against the sweet chirp of baby bunnies!  I try to regain focus, but really...those other things do not have a chance.
Hmmm...maybe this was NOT such a good idea...
My ever wonderful DH decided he would help me regain focus by setting up Facetime on my Mac and his iPhone so I could keep an eye on Little Sun without getting up from my computer.  How wonderful! I wish I had taken a pic of her when she was at the front of the pen trying to reach my voice.  She was sooo cute!  HOWEVER, I am not sure it had his intended effect of more productivity.    

         THE SCORE:
     Bunnies 1, Schoolwork 0                                                                                
      GO BUNNIES!!
                                                                                   Now seriously, I've got to go write those papers...

                                                                 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mr. Biggles!



Our first English angora, Mr. Biggles, turns one year old today.  And, yes, there is a video honoring our spunky little guy. (Note: Please adjust your volume if you do not like raucous music....because Mr. Biggles does!)


video


Mr. Biggles - Our Anarcho Punk Bunny
(video music by Against Me! Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious)
  
On our way home
E sporting the Biggles shirt

Ha! Pouting when put
 back from playtime

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fall/Winter Preparations


Everyone has their little list of rabbit winter prep chores.  Here are mine along with a couple long term plans.
  • Pressure wash the cages and cage accessories.  Hoping to enlist DH and his new pressure washer for this one.   
  • Finish construction on the BunnyShip Galactica (the new rabbit pen).  Here are a pic of the gutter assembly.  The final model will be sheet metal (galvanized)...I think.  A coroplast sheet substitutes just fine right now.  It did reveal the need for stabilizers underneath the sheet, though.  
The leaf guard is inverted to collect manure for easy disposal in the garden.
  • Prep the nursery for Little Sun's litter.  Hopefully the mating took.  I chose not to palpate.  She is running around with mouthfuls of hay, so the signs look good. 
  • Fight the fur mite monster. One of the bucks has fur mites, a common problem with wool breeds. Ivermectin given orally has had minimal effect on the little devils.  I took him to the vet (trying to score some Revolution), but nothing showed up on the scrapings.  Our vet is really wonderful.  He enjoys seeing the bunnies and tries to save us money, too. Since our boy is not in misery and is otherwise healthy, our plan was to give Ivermectin for a bit longer, then come back for Revolution if that doesn't work.  Dr. Wright feels like he is at the tail end of this anyhow. His skin is clear and he is not itchy...just a few pesky flakes and webby spots.   Since the Ivermectin has not worked as quickly as I'd like, I am trying the diatomaceous earth as well (food grade, of course), being careful to keep his cute little face dust free. 
  • Make new carriers for next year's shows.  This will probably be a winter project.  The carriers in the size I like are about $40 each, so we will try our hand making a few.  
  • Some type of cooling unit for the buns.  This is in preparation for next spring/summer. It is so ridiculously hot here.  At times, it is quite difficult to show my rabbits in heat like this.  All the shows I've been to in Texas have been outdoor shows. This is OK when the weather is cool, but show season shortens when it warms up. However, bunny health does come first and I am not above leaving a show if they do not look happy. I do hate leaving, though. Perhaps I should get other types of rabbits more suitable for the environment I live in?  Heavens, no.  Adapt and invent to accomodate my rabbits? Yes. Absolutely. I LIKE English Angoras and I am pretty sure my rabbits like me, too.  My rabbits enjoy climate controlled living anyhow so it makes sense to keep their climate controlled whenever possible.   

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Am Thankful...

I am thankful for many things.  I have a great life with an amazing family...each person priceless in their own way.
We're all wonderfully unorganized for a photo op during
DH's "Respect the Beard" birthday party this month.
Mom sneakily offers to take the pic so she doesn't have
to be seen with a "beard" on.  I'm on to you, Mom!

I am at peace with my little part of the world. Since this is my rabbit blog, I thought that I might focus on what I am thankful for in bunny land.
  • I am thankful for the people I have met.  Rabbit folks are kind and helpful.  The friends I have made in this hobby always seem to have time for my questions and are patient with me as I learn.  I will probably continue to pester you with my silly ideas.      
  • I am thankful that I have such sweet rabbits.  Each and every one is special.  
All of these rabbit obsessions can be traced
 back to Mr. Biggles.  
  • I am thankful for bloggers and web site authors.  Without you, I would still be fumbling around in the dark.  I am grateful that you take the time to share your experiences...even if you often feel like you are talking to yourself.  
  • I am thankful for online groups and those who moderate them.  Your reponses are relevant, timely, and peer-reviewed...all key to good information sources.     
  • Most of all, I am thankful that my family understands (although they may not always agree with) my obsessive ways.  Come on guys! I am like this with everything....not just rabbits. I love you all.  

      HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Texas Licensed Breeder Advisory Committee (Dogs and Cats)

Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation
The older I get, the more I realize that napping during civics class was probably a bad idea.  My Mom is super involved in the political scene in her hometown. She works hard to make a difference. Kudos to her  because I would describe myself as mildly interested and awfully disillusioned, at best. I WANT to be involved and have a voice.  I keep thinking... if advisory committee meetings were held outdoors in some public garden with each board member wielding a trowel and a pair of knee pads, I would probably go. I would definitely feel more productive.

 The eight Licensed Breeder Advisory Committee 
members are composed of individuals from a 
wide range of interests.
Since committee meeting/garden time is not likely to  happen, I do what I can to satisfy my own feelings about what it means to be an American citizen.  I am currently following the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation's Advisory Board for a new program for licensing dog and cat breeders in the state.  Tuesday's meeting was mostly introductory, but in spite of what the pictures look like (haha)...it was very interesting.  The board is composed of people with a WIDE range of views (breeders, rescues, veterinary practice, animal control).  I look forward to seeing how they work out their differences and work toward a common goal.


Committee members get a chance to ask questions. 
My interest is mostly in regards to the process of animal care standards development.  This is a big area of debate in the rabbit community. Even though this is a cat and dog Breeder Licensing Advisory Board, I think the process will be enlightening for rabbit folks as well, especially if breeding rabbits is in your future (or present). If you get a chance...check out TDLR's website.  
You can subscribe to the areas you are interested and will receive email updates about meeting dates and agendas.  You can even watch the broadcast live, although the link kept going out during today's meeting.  Not sure if the fault was with me or TDLR, but like many, I tend to blame my government ;) The email subscription service also keeps you in the loop if committee positions are available so you can serve on a board, if that's your kind of thing.  Even if you want a more "hands off" approach, you can follow the legislation and email public comments to be addressed at future TDLR advisory board meetings...all in the comfort of your own home.

Like Mom always says, "If you do not take an interest in your government, someone else will...do you really want someone else to decide what's best for YOU?"   Awww....Rats!

Next Meeting: The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation is scheduled to meet Wednesday, December 14 at 9:00 a.m. in the 1st Floor Public Meeting Room of TDLR's North Campus, located at 1106 Clayton Lane in Austin. Once an agenda has been finalized, it will be posted on the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation web site. The meeting will be broadcast and available for viewing in RealPlayer.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Nice English Angora Grooming Resource

A partially clipped Little Sun, looking a bit like a Valley Girl.    
So far, my project has an excellent feeding program with which I am very satisfied.  Housing plans are in the developmental stages, but I have a good idea of where I am headed.  I have what I feel is a good start in regards to a breeding program and foundation stock.  BUT, if there is one area where I could use improvement, it is grooming bunnies.  I try...but one look at my hair on any given day, and you can tell that primping is not one of my priorities.

Armed with a Metro pet blower, steel comb, DoggyMan slicker brushes (in two sizes), a grooming table, and a rotating pin rake...I, at least, look like I know what I am doing.  I have been lucky to have a few more experienced folks take time to help me get started with hands-on grooming help (Thanks Sasha, Margaret, and Sara!).  I could be a top-notch "pet" angora groomer. As far as a "show" angora groomer?...I am a work in progress.  Even though my rabbits do well on the show table, there is a lot on which I can improve. I want to do right by these rabbits (and myself), so I am always on the lookout for more info. I have a grip on the basics.  It's the little things (four of them to be exact - LEGS!) that get me.  Luckily, I have nice, patient rabbits that put up with the learning curve.

I've gotten some excellent tips so far.  I use them! However, I am constantly on the lookout for more grooming tips.  I found this blog the other day.  It was on the 3rd google page for "english angora grooming secrets." It should have been on the first.

http://englishangorasareawesome.blogspot.com/

This blog, although short, does such a wonderful job of explaining grooming guidelines for the different ages of English Angora coats.  Information is clear and succinct. Plus, there is some genetic information that I found really interesting. I wish the author would write more. Maybe she could write about EA body type? That would be awesome!

That is why I like these English Angoras.  They give me a chance to work on something that I am naturally not so good at AND feed my affinity for all things fluffy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dana's Yummy Red Satin Angora..and other stuff

Congratulations to my angora friend, Dana!  Her Satin Angora won BOS at the ARBA Convention 2011.  That buck is wonderful!  I am already making plans for next year's convention in Wichita, Kansas. Note: My planning so far mostly involves begging DH. I hope to move quickly on from that to the "real" planning.  Hope to see you there!

Speaking of next year's shows and Wichita...I have been talking to my bunny friends about heading north to Kansas for the angora specialty. It is held the second weekend in June. It's a nice indoor, air conditioned double show with angora specialty. Showroom opens the night before. We had such an awesome time last year. It would be great to have a group of Texas folks to represent...just sayin'.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rabbit Pen Prototype


Well it only took about six weeks, but we finally have a bunny pen sketch.  DH started construction on the base already.  Yippee!

I just need to decide on finish for the base. Although wood is not the best product to use in rabbit cage construction, we decided to make an exception as this is only the prototype and it is a more economical option.   Cage construction has been slowed down by the el-cheapo j-clip pliers we bought at Tractor Supply.  Nothing against TSC, the pliers are meant for small fix 'em ups, not huge cage construction.  We should have ordered heavy duty pliers online, but to be honest, DH moved much quicker than anticipated.  I was unprepared...
happy, but unprepared. BUNNYRABBIT.com is on vacation this week, so I'll have to figure something else out.

So construction will continue once I have some better pliers onhand.  For now, I just have to figure out how to protect the base.  Paint is the first step.  Just have to work out the details with the rest.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Rabbit is like a...

"What kind of pet is a rabbit?". That is a question that comes up a lot when dealing with rabbits. Because rabbits are not as popular as other pets, like dogs and cats, people are looking for some sort of reference point. The answer, "That depends."

I will try to answer that question about my English Angoras. Experience has taught me that rabbits are way more complex than the skiddish prey animals I originally thought they were.  There is no single answer. Here is the best way I can explain what kind of pets rabbits are:

Rabbits are like horses. Both are prey animals and they definitely have minds of their own. You have to earn their trust. They form a relationship with you on their own terms. Even with personalities as unique as the individual.  Rabbits can become pushy as well, like an surly horse, so you have to balance respect for them, with your own cool, calm and collectedness. I've heard it called the "Caesar the Dog Whisperer aura" of leadership.   Check out Black Beauty or, my favorite, The Black Stallion if you are unfamiliar with one-on-one relationships with horses.  A rabbit's digestive system is a lot like a horse, too.




Rabbits are like cats.  My cats (and rabbits) always are for looking attention, but again on their terms. When out  for exercise, my bunnies run round and round my feet, just like a cat. That's the bunny love dance. Rabbits have their own independent spirit about them as well.  Sometimes they want to lay by me, and sometimes they just want to bounce away from me. Once again, they know what they want. Rabbits are clean animals.  They groom often.  My bunnies like to play with toys like cats.  They will try to lay on my fabric when I am trying to sew, on my book when I am trying to read.  They toss toilet tissue rolls and bat wiffle balls around.  Rabbits can use the litter box as well.  




Rabbits are like dogs.  Morning bunny check brings everybody to the front of their cages.  They're all bouncing around like eager puppies looking for attention.  "Pick me! Pick me!," they seem to say. Most of my rabbits come when called.  They love to get a pet and then bound off through the play tunnel.  I have a couple that are the ultimate lap dogs.  We can watch TV together.  The others don't have time for such idle pleasures, exploring every crevice of the room before plopping down to relax, just out of arm reach. Rabbits are trainable.  Some people clicker train their rabbits, but don't expect bunny to sit, stay, or heel.  Although, some may have more luck/skill than I did.  My angoras need weekly grooming...like those fancy little dogs.



Rabbits are like chickens.  Multiple bunny households make pecking orders.  Everyone has their place.  Removing or adding rabbits upsets the balance, even when they are gone for just a bit.  Remembering that rabbits are territorial critters will go a long way to preventing mayhem.  On the flip side, nothing shows contentment better than two bonded bunnies laying side by side.  It's the cutest thing ever.  I do make habit of feeding my bonded bunnies in their individual cages just so I can make sure everyone's getting proper food because they can bully...then it is free feed hay for all. An observant eye is necessary for bunny ownership.  Since rabbits are prey animals, they are crafty about revealing illness or injury. A rabbit suddenly not eating may be the only sign you get.



In the end, I'd say that rabbits are a little bit of everything.  They are their own unique kind of pet.  I just love 'em!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

SARBA Show in Seguin TX

Judge Mike taking a look at the English Angoras.
Little Sun's big fluffy butt is on the far right.
This weekend we headed to Seguin for our first rabbit show of the fall. We had a great time and met some wonderful folks! And...we got to see Dana and her yummy red satin angoras again. She even showed me how to use that drop spindle I bought...she just couldn't watch me trying to spin. Yes, it was that painful. I am going to get better, though.
About the rabbits...the biggest news was that there were other English Angoras there! Some folks from Kyle came up with two bunnies. How great! We only stayed until 3:30 because the heat was making my poor bunnies miserable. But our two did very well for Show A. Little Sun was BOB and Cimmerian was BOS! Now to prep for the Killeen show!

Judge Mike about to examine Cimmerian.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Good Vet Is Hard To Find

Veterinarians who are familiar with rabbits are hard to find. Most of the rabbit friendly vets I've found do primarily pet rabbits...which is cool, but I want a vet that is flexible enough to see my rabbits as pets OR livestock and not get preachy with me about it. So off I go, in search of the perfect vet for me and my animals.

What was I looking for? I stayed away from the metropolitan areas (like Austin).  Those metropolitan clinics tend to be pricey and geared toward pet animals.  My rabbits are my pets, but they are also versatile enough to be like little sheep (a reference to their wooly bodies).  To be honest, if I had real sheep, I would probably call them my pets as well.  Anyhow, a small town would be where I would find the right vet for me... preferably a clinic with livestock panel gates on the premises. I would like to find a place that sees large animals and small animals. Rabbit experience is definitely a plus, but I am not opposed to someone willing to learn with me. I would really appreciate a vet who has the guts to say, "I don't know, but I'll find out."

Luckily, I struck gold on my first time out (lots of research involved to set up a "lucky" break). Dr. Wright and everyone at Belton Veterinary Clinic was wonderful! The lady at the desk put us in an exam room right away, so my bun wouldn't have to sit with a waiting room full of dogs.  The vet was helpful and knowledgeable.  Everyone took pictures of my fluffy bunny. Charlee was quite a hit. But what sealed the deal was what was on the wall of our exam room. Right next to the obligatory heartworm poster, hung a picture of a little girl beaming as she held her show bunny. Bingo!

Most pet bunny folks in Central Texas head towards the Austin or Dallas area for bunny med care.  If you live in Central Texas, save yourself the drive. Check these guys out.  http://www.beltonvetclinic.com/
Nice folks.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Bo Jackson ...the Mini Rex

Bo and A
Well, time had come to say goodbye to Bo, A's mini rex.  I have grown to like that little bunny.  However, I am focusing on my EA's and, unfortunately, there is only so much room.
When I had been a pet foster mom (years ago), it was always hard to let them go.  But I am happy that he gets a chance to be someone's love bunny.

It had been four weeks since he had been neutered so the ad went out Friday.  He was immediately swiped up by one smart, young lady who drove all the way from Burnett.  He will make a wonderful pet.  I felt really good about sending him to his forever home.  Bo's new bunny mama asked alot of questions and that is usually a good sign. He will live in the lap of luxury as a bedroom bunny.  Good luck to ya, Bo! We'll miss ya :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

No Show For You....I Mean "Me"

Soooo I did not make it to the Cleburne Show...too bad because Little Sun is glorious right now. I hope she holds on til the Seguin show. If so, she will be very competitive. I am very pleased with that pretty little doe from West Virginia. Thanks, Sara!

Of course, I was really upset about not going to the show...especially after all that work. I think my family needs vitamins, a timer....and a nicer mother/wife. Sorry guys for being such a jerk. I am a driven woman...what can I say? Thanks for understanding :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Housing Plan..Sort of

Currently, all my EA rabbits live in either 30x30 or 30x36 wire cages.  The plan was for the does to have the larger cages, but I couldn't take Mr. Biggles' cage from him because he was our first English Angora and we all have quite the soft spot for him.   Everyone has exercise time, but I cannot help but feel that I could do better.   Sometimes it is a real pain to get everyone out for exercise so I've been looking for an alternative that helps me and them.  

Plans are in the works for a sort of pen which will really be a larger version of the wire cage they live in already.  I am in the drawing stage right now and will post a sketch as soon as I get a workable construction plan.  My idea gets more complicated as I need this to be an indoor solution as the weather here seems to remain ridiculously hot.  I am looking at something along the lines of 36"x60".  Don't think I'll find a drop pan that size so I'm looking at alternatives.    

The X-pen on the floor thing is just too messy for my fluffy little guys.  Biggles and Charlee lived in our unused dining room (house rabbit style) for the first 5 months of their lives.  Biggles' personality became like that of a small dog...super social.  I later found out that is his personality regardless of X-pen or wire cage.  He's just that rascally.  It was great having them nearby, but a full-time job keeping them and their area clean.  I could not imagine how someone with a real job keeps up.  

Anyhow, all this lab rabbit research got me thinking of the idea of having everyone in pens.  That is what initially got me thinking about a large wire pen with a wire floor that is more compatible with wool upkeep.  More room to exercise was a big motivator.  I am convinced that rabbits would benefit from a more social environment(as indicated in the lab research), but cautious as the current show rabbit model has a lot of supporters, and quite frankly, most of these folks are quite knowledgeable..even more so than many general practice veterinarians (as a result of lack of exposure).  There is something to be said for experience. Besides, the labs are not dealing with show animals where nips (and subsequent white hairs and scars) and excessive grooming, such as nibbling on a show coat, can be detrimental. I have to admit that I am hesitant about deviating too much, but wish to do what is ultimately best for the rabbits and myself.  It's all about taking the calculated risk towards innovation, emphasis on "calculated." I'm sure that someone else has done this.  I would love to see their results.  

I'm not quite going with the colony model just yet.  My rabbit have been individually housed, but I am not above a little carefully constructed experimentation with future litters, if any.  Our first two EAs (two bucks - Mr. Biggles and Charlee) were a bonded pair and they really seemed to enjoy each others company.  They continue to be housed side by side.  They are often found cuddled up to each other through the wire  so I see how a group setting would be advantageous for overall health (not to anthromorphize). 
Just a note:  there seems to be a lot of research about group housing, but they mostly utilize solid floors and hay as bedding so disease (coccidiosis, etc) can be an issue.  I think if they researched the benefits of wire/properly slotted floors in a group setting, they would experience a decrease in disease issues.    

The idea of keeping my rabbits in larger pens just makes sense to me.  I know of at least one other rabbit person who does this as a sort of outdoor exercise pen.  The wire will help keep everyone clean.  The rabbits get room to actually do more "rabbit things" like hop around and stretch out their legs.  I am excited to have some sort of idea in my head as to what I would like...now to get it on paper.    

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Quest for Rabbit Information Alternatives

There is a lot of information out there regarding rabbit housing/care.  I've read a lot of books.  I've read or viewed any rabbit article I could find on the Internet over the last year, especially angora.  If you have a rabbitry website or a rabbit care page, I've probably viewed it.  Thanks for adding to my information base!  I've watched way too many YouTube videos and joined no less than ten online groups...very interesting, diverse information, with a sprinkling of radicalism to boot (I love them!).  There are lots of opinions out there and that's wonderful!  These little creatures are so diverse that everyone has their own way of handling them...and that's cool.

So the Kelfla Project has tons of resources...and that is wonderful.   I will probably use a little bit of everything.  I am working on a list of information so I can credit properly because at first, I did not keep good records of where I got the information.

However, my current favorite source of information (besides those wonderful online groups) is laboratory animal housing guidelines and rabbit research papers.  I particularly like the ones from other countries.  They give me a different perspective...kind of like watching BBC news.  I will likely add some of this info to the bits and pieces I've been collecting.
  
Here are some examples of what I've been looking at:

Happy information hunting!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Multipurpose = Multiproblems

Rabbits are multipurpose animals. They can be food, fur/fiber, or companions. This is a large part of the problem when determining proper care and protection...and a big reason I am so infatuated. I can't help but love usefulness. But, such matters are complicated because there are pet folks that can't imagine eating a rabbit. There are proponents of rabbit meat who see their herd as purely livestock. Then there are those that see rabbits as a renewable fiber resource. And of course, there are those who see the wonderful utilitarian nature of rabbits and who consider rabbits as any combination of the aforementioned. The same animal can be considered as livestock AND/OR pet, depending on person, geographic location, or intent.  How unique, fascinating, and aggravating at the same time!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

In a consolidation effort, this entry was added from another blog on September 4, 2011.
Today is Father’s Day.  I hope you made your Dad breakfast in bed!  I’d like to say a bit about my Dad, my Husband, and all those men out there who are wonderful Dads.   
Thanks, Daddy!  Thanks for building a maze for my hamsters, just because I wanted one.  Thanks for showing me that love is an action word.  Words are cheap.  It’s what you DO for those you love that matters.  Thanks for picking all the tripe out of my menudo AND fishing the ground meat out of my spaghetti sauce.  Thanks for always cutting the meat on my plate. I still let you do that for years after I could do it on my own because it made me feel special.  Thanks for working so hard to provide a roof over our heads.  
And for my special Hubby....Thanks for being THE example of love that my Dad laid down. It was totally worth the wait.  Thank your for being a father figure to my children.  They know they can depend on you.  Thanks for being strong enough to withstand the hurricane that is Kelly and not hold it against me.  And, last but not least, THANK YOU for not letting my love of animals (bunnies, in particular) wreck your idea of what a home is all about.  You are the best!  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

We Aren't In Kansas Anymore....

In a consolidation effort, this entry was added from another blog on September 4, 2011.
Boo....because we had a great time!  Even though we only got to stay one night, I think we had a pretty good weekend.  We attended the MAAC Angora Specialty show, where Hershey picked up a leg (BOB) in Show A.  Show B, she placed 2nd in her class. She lost out to Margaret Bartold’s beautiful tort doe...not too shabby, I’d say.  Also...we picked up Cimmerian, a beautiful senior black buck from Margaret.  He will be our herd buck.  BUT, my favorite part (well worth the 8 hour drive by itself) was all the wonderful information and advice I got from Margaret and Randy(judge).  She was so wonderful and patient while giving me grooming tips and angora advice.  I got behind the judges table and received great hands on training.  All the forums and emails and internet research does not take the place of quality one-on-one time with an expert.  Thanks, Margaret and Randy!   We had a wonderful time at the Kansas show and plan to go again next year.  It would be cool to go up there with a group of Texas breeders.  That’s definitely something to work on.  

Now it’s off to groom the bunnies!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lesson of the Day: Good Lighting is Essential

In a consolidation effort, this entry was added from another blog on September 6, 2011.
We took Charlee to his first show this weekend.  I was so excited because I thought he looked really good.  I did concede that I have no idea what the judges would look for except what I had read online.  I counted toes, verified eye color, clipped toenails, checked his man parts to ensure everything was there and blew out his coat.  He would at least look pretty...and fluffy.  I printed off a rabbit show checklist I found online.  Thanks to whoever put that thing online because it was perfect! I made everyone at the house insane because I was so revved up for the show.  I apologize for that: I just wanted to make sure I had everything perfect.  Anyhow, I plopped Charlee in his little carrier and headed off the the show, family (and their bunnies) in tow.   Everyone was so nice in Austin.  They showed us where to go and what paperwork to fill out.  Even in line, we found kind folks ready to help out.  Rabbit people are so nice!

And of course, Sasha and John were there with their little chocolate EAs.  I had those things on my mind ever since Sasha mentioned them at the State Show last month.  I could not resist and bought their last little doe which we named Hershey.  James bought her for K, so she'd have a bunny to show as well.  Of course, I will keep her and care for her and pretty much consider her mine because K does not like animals in her house.  K then coined the phrase "grandbunny"...a rabbit she can cuddle and then return to someone else who is responsible for care and upbringing.  

At the show, Sasha and family were so gracious.  They really took time to help me.  I obviously had much to learn about grooming these little guys.  Sasha taught me how to turn the rabbits over and brush out their legs so the whole bunny looks like a fluffy ball.  Charlee was not pleased, but he was a good sport.  I spent most of the day trying to drag every bit of rabbit info out of Sasha, John, and Sasha's mom.  It was nice to be able to talk to someone who had rabbits like me.  And, most of all, to see their rabbits in real life.  They were so patient.  By the way, our little bunny from Sasha did quite well at the table.  She placed first in her class in both shows.  What a wonderful start!

But it wasn't all wine and roses....

The judges' table held my only disappointment of the day.  Show A:  Charlee was DQ'd for a white toenail.  How did I not see that?  Both James and I looked at all his little toenails.  Rats!  Immediately, we were called for Show B:  Charlee was DQ'd again....for white toenails.  I was sad for Charlee, although he seemed unphased.  On the up side, he got great comments otherwise.  I was still a bit skeptical about the toenails (because I always know best haha), although two very experienced judges apparently felt otherwise.  We had looked at those toenails at the house.  Every site I visited about rabbit show preparations said check for DQs (toenails included) and we did.  I pulled his fur back and held his paw up in the revealing sunlight.  Ugh!  There it was it bright daylight....a shiny, white toenail.  It was so glaringly obvious that I just looked at James and say, "I think we need new lightbulbs."  

Charlee and Biggles out in the sun...where I should have looked at Charlee's toenails.  


Friday, April 29, 2011

OK, so it's been a while...

I have been busy. Yes, I have still been writing, but not on the computer. I confess that I haven't been writing everyday. I daydream about rabbits, mostly. Rabbits and relationships. I'll explain more about that later. For now, I will just catch up.
There are 4 rabbits living here now. Elizabeth got a baby Netherland Dwarf to show. My stepson got an older Mini-Rex, also to show. I have taken over Mr. Biggles and Charlee (Like I didn't see that coming and gave it a big ol' bear hug). I'm pretty sure everyone knew that was what I wanted anyway. I just wish all those other rabbits were English Angoras.
I am gearing up for a big class load this summer. I am trying to hurry up and graduate so James can graduate at his own pace. I should be close to graduation by spring. It all depends on financial aid.
I have been to see Mr. Miyagi once. I produced mediocre drawings indicative of the time spent on them and bought an igloo doghouse for his strays. I have not been back, but I try to "see" everything with an artistic eye. I want to be ready. I will not show up with crap again.
Also, I quit worrying so much about what I'm supposed to be doing. I enjoy James' company, help the kids, and care for the bunnies. Life is good. I have instructed God that if he has anything else in mind for me, he will have to roll out a red carpet for me to notice. I am confidant that he will do so. That is his way with me.

Green in Killeen

I went to the City of Killeen's Composting Class this week, mostly to receive the free composter.  I had originally signed up month's ago and was thrilled to receive my confirmation.  About 15 other residents and I sat through the 2 hour class focused on composting and "green" practices.  Expecting the dry lecture classes often become, I was pleasantly surprised by the information given by class instructor, Peter D.  Mr. D is the head of the Killeen's Recycling Center and is full of interesting information regarding composting and gardening.    I got great tips about everything from where in our area to get mulch to which tomato varieties grow best in our clay-bound, alkaline soil.  So at 8pm, I left the Avenue F facility with composter in hand and an unexpected surprise...master gardener, Bert Whitehead's book "___"(won in the door prize drawings).  I encourage everyone to attend this free class in Killeen.  Information is available on the City of Killeen website, under Residents/Recycling.  It was definitely worth the composter.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Draw! I tell you!

I have been disappointed in myself. I have not been drawing lately...like I should. I am going to see Mr. Miyagi today, weather permitting, and I am dissatisfied with the quantity of drawings I have made. Yes, I had an RA flare or two; yes, I had the flu; yes, I babysit a 2 year old all day; BUT....doggone it! This is important to me and I haven't done it! Now get off your ass, Kel.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Son Is Reading A Book!

My oldest daughter, K, got me hooked. "Ishmael" was required reading for one of her CJ classes. Living out of town at the time, she called to tell me she had just read the best book ever. I filed that info into "cool stuff to know and use at a later date," promising myself to pick up a copy. Two years later, fate would have K and her two little ones moving in with us. As we were unpacking her boxes she pulled out her used copy of Ishmael. Violla! I was happy to begin reading and I must say that the book blew my mind. Not because the ideas within were so enlightening, but because the ideas were so mine. I felt a little invaded, as if I had been mind-melded by Daniel Quinn...and he hadn't asked. How rude! But most of all, I felt vindicated. Someone out there felt as I did. I gave this book to my Mom for her birthday and I have practically shoved it down the throat of anyone who would listen. I bought the audiobook for the men in my life who do not like to read. My Hubby begrudgingly listened to 20 minutes before falling asleep. I suggest it every evening, but Futurama wins out every night. I was dismayed. Yesterday morning my "today's educational system has killed my love of reading, unless it is video game format" 21 year old asked if I still had that book I was trying to get everyone to read. He took it to work with him. He quoted it on his Facebook status. In my mind I shouted, "YES!"

Monday, February 7, 2011

Well, if it's not the internet, it's the fever...

We had internet on Friday, but I was sick.  I spent all day Friday and Saturday in bed.  And when I mean I spent all day in bed, I mean that I stayed asleep in one position and did not lift my head.  I felt awful.  Everyone at the house was great.  James cooked meals, cleaned house, and watched all the kids.  He shuffled everyone where they needed to be.  The older kids pitched in and watched the baby when James had errands to run.  I think the kids thought I was going to die because they had the most worried look on their face when I finally came back around.  I cannot remember EVER feeling that sick.  I am glad it is over with.  But of course, that meant that I am behind on everything again.  Geez, I can't get caught up.  But today is a brand new day and I do not have a fever.  It's beautiful outside so I took advantage and moved a few rocks to make a border for a proposed flowerbed.  I had to move quickly because James is coming home from school early to check on me.  Later!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

No Internet = Ridiculous T-shirt

Our Mr. Biggles T-shirt

  Yesterday we had no internet due to the rolling blackouts so I did not post.  But    that did afford me the time to work on Elizabeth's Mr. Biggles shirt.  Even though we did not have power, I was still able to work because of the beautiful light in our house.  Big windows have their drawbacks, but I still think they're great.  Anyhow, I just drew a pattern that I thought would look cute and colored it in with fabric markers.  She was very happy with it and even said that she would not be embarassed to wear it to school (which I took as the ultimate compliment).  True to her word, E wore it today.  I thought it came out pretty good too.  This probably descends us down to some new insane level of pet infatuation.  I almost feel like we need a support group.  This is what happens when I have no internet.  
  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Holy Crap, it's freezing today!

I cannot believe that yesterday I was cleaning the garage with beautiful 60 degree weather.  It's about 25 degrees now and cold as crap.  Lovely.  Since it is chilly, I have relegated to the indoors. I am continuing to work on the drawings, but haven't done anything too impressive.  Of course, this is an opportunity for me to spend some time with Mr. Biggles.  I brushed his coat and tried to deal with the stubborn fur on the back of his neck; it is always trying to mat up.  He was trying to get a little pushy for a while.  He likes to be free to explore, not held.  I was gently persistent and now he gives in without too much of a struggle.  It's more like, "Aw, rats!", instead of "Oh no you don't!"  He loves to be groomed, though, and asks for it all the time.  We gave him free rein over the toy room over the weekend.  He was so happy!  He hopped around everywhere until he was pooped.  He weaved in and out around the kids while they played on the floor.  The kids were annoyed because he kept trying to hop into their ZhuZhu Pets Gladiator Ring, but I was excited to see him so perky.

Mr. Biggles at 9 weeks


Today is my 5th day on my cherry experiment.  Yesterday was a good day, but I did a lot of housework.  James felt that I overdid it.  He is probably right since that evening, my right hand became useless yet again.  I am back where I started at....blah.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekend Over: Day 4 of Cherry Experiment

Like most people with rheumatoid arthritis, I am still on the quest to discover how to live most days completely unconscious of the place where my bones meet.   So....in frustration with my new tweeking of meds (no more methotrexate, as my lungs are unhappy), I have decided to try something out of an old book I had laying around for years, "Foods That Heal" by Dr. Bernard Jensen.


Since cherries are more delicious to me than goat's whey, I am trying cherries at the rate of 20 a day.  Yum!  I started on Friday.  I spent the weekend with a nonfunctioning right hand, so I felt I hadn't given the cherries the fair start they deserved.  I feel pretty good today, just a little sore, so we'll see how it goes.  At least I get a scrumptious snack out of it.  That's more than I can say for my traditional meds.   

Friday, January 28, 2011

Art Lessons with Mr. Miyagi

My first art lesson assignment was to draw white objects so I can see the values.  Bring them back to him for inspection.  He did not "give a shit" what I had done before.  Well, yes, sir.  I have begun drawing a couple of pics (one each day).  I wonder if he will find them acceptable.  I see messes on each.
Crumpled Napkin on Dashboard


My favorite Salt and Pepper Shakers
Today I am attempting a coffee mug and saucer.  We'll see how it goes.  I wish I had more time to do this because I really enjoy it.  My problem is that I really enjoy many things and can't seem to pare down anything.  What will it be today?...drawing, knitting, bunnies, programming, reading.  The list goes on and on.....and, oh yes, there's the house stuff.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New Year Resolutions

Image by hinnamsaisuy
English Angora Lady has not called back, which is probably for the best. Cane Day has set me back, but I was thankful that it gave me a chance to work on my New Year resolutions. Here they are:


1. Love and accept. I will love and accept those in my life for whom they are, not whom I wish them to be.  Lord, help me with this one.  


2. Write regularly. Write everyday is what I would like to do, but writing Monday through Friday is more realistic.


3. Spin some wool. I love the feel of yarn. Thank you, Mr. Biggles.


4. Be a shepherdess. Care for my flock.


5. Paint, paint, paint. Get those ideas out of my idea book and onto canvas. I started lessons with a man that owns a tattoo parlor in town. He is a regular Mr. Miyagi.


6. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. This is the best book I've ever read.  Hands down (Thanks, Katbird).  Everyone I know will get it as a gift.  Why don't I hear more about it?  I just don't get it. 


Six is cool for now. This list may be amended. :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cane Day

As I wait for English Angora Lady (as I dubbed her on my phone) to call me back, I look for other things to do. My knee has other ideas for me today...stupid RA....and has deemed today a "cane" day. That's cool. I just have to be creative. Mostly, though, I find that it just stresses everyone out around me and they just yell at me to "Sit down and rest!"--- lovingly of course. I patiently sit propped up on the couch recliner and wait for everyone else to walk out the door, getting on with their day. That buys me three hours of time to get stuff done as the house goes to crap on these kinds of days.  Really, it buys me time to sit and groom Mr. Biggles for a bit before my Hubby comes home and says,"Isn't that Elizabeth's rabbit? Shouldn't she be doing that?"
Image by renjith krishnan

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Hi, this is Maureen...."

Image by Ambro
Well, well, well. During all this bunny hunting, I made a lot of phone calls. I was desperate to snag the perfect little English Angora bunny present for E to find right under the Christmas tree. The rabbits were not cooperating. Most people I contacted did not have a single baby nor adult available. There were several litters about to be born right before Christmas. But those babies would require at least 6 weeks with Mom. Also, color identification with these little guys apparently can be tricky when first born. Elizabeth had her heart set on a blue bunny, before Mr. Biggles came around. So, leaving no base uncovered, I put my name and number out there for all of them. And in come the phone calls. Rats. This is terrible news for me as I want all of them. Elizabeth's blue bunny that started all this will be weaned next month. I'm thinking, would one more make that much of a difference? The phone rings. It's Maureen. Her bunnies are now weaned...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Enter Mr. Biggles: I Did Not Want A Rabbit


I have never been a big fan of rabbits. They seem like such helpless little creatures that cannot be spooked, tusselled, or stressed without croaking. Nor do they fair very well with my Darwinian style of pet ownership, like forgetting to feed the cat until she is attacking my leg out of frustration. Not really a good pet choice for me...and I've got that. But, my daughter loves bunnies and has been begging for one. She's only ten and if you've been a parent for at least 10 minutes you'll know that that means I will be ultimately responsible for said rabbit. I was good at resisting her attempts at bunny ownership. No amount of rabbit care google searches, batting eyes, cute bunny utube videos, or checked-out rabbit library books was going to sway me. My husband, a steady force to me in many ways, had not built up the fortress necessary to withstand a wiley preteen girl. So it was he, who cracked. James announced at the dinner table that if Elizabeth wanted a bunny for Christmas that would be the only gift she would receive. She immediately bit at her chance. "Yes!" After much spousal deliberation, I relented...under one condition. She had to pick a type of rabbit I liked.

So began two months of researching, note taking, and uTubing rabbits. One thing became evident. People can become obsessed with anything. I was no different.  I had become enamored with a particular type of bunny that was dual purpose - a pet and potential big ball of yarn.  As a knitter and an admirer of useful things, I fell into love with Angora rabbits.  The English Angoras were irresistible to me with their cute curly ears and fluffy bunny butts.   Elizabeth, being desperate to get any type of rabbit, fell in love too...or at least she pretended.  In spite of their high maintenance, I was willing to devote 10 years or so to these little fuzzy guys in exchange for access to a free supply of wool.

Enter Mr. Biggles.  I first spotted him on a bunny webcam (yes, there is such a thing).  He belonged to an Angora breeder in Arkansas and he was not for sale.  Elizabeth and I spent about a week watching him and his littermates bouncing around on top of each other.  I cannot imagine a cuter spectacle.  We were so smitten that we had to tell his owner how much we enjoyed his bunny cam and we had actually made up a "pretend" name for one of the bunnies he was keeping.  Well, I guess he took that to mean that we would like to buy that bunny because Mr. Bunny Webcam Operator was willing to part with "Mr. Biggles" if we were serious.  I summoned up the appropriate funds and (without telling my husband, as he got me into this pickle in the first place) I made arrangements to retrieve my, I mean, our bunny.  Elizabeth and I picked him up in Waxahatchie, TX on a Saturday in January.


Mr. Biggles is a broken tortoiseshell English Angora rabbit.  Take a look at him yourself.  He's adorable.  


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