Saturday, February 25, 2012

New Pens for Indoor Living

Defiance checking out her new pad
My rabbits live inside. It's just how it is for me right now.  But inside living has its downsides.  There's constant cleaning, vaccuuming, and dusting.  I work hard to keep wool off of everything...often just one step ahead of my DH. I race to deftly pluck that stray wool strand off the back of his beloved Ohio State jacket as he heads to the car in the morning.  Crisis averted :)

Hershey in her new 2'x4' pen.  
I don't mind the cleaning...mostly.  But there is one thing that constantly plagues me:  My wire cages are ugly.  Practical, functional, superior in design...yes.  I don't know why it bothers me, but I want to have it all: beauty and function.  And my wire cages just weren't cutting it. After a ream of crumpled up papers landed in the recycle bin, I finally came up with an idea that my DH would build and I can live with.

So here it is:  2' x 4' bunny living with upgraded wire floor addition and open sky light (to compensate for the days my rheumatoid arthritis decides it doesn't want to open rabbit doors).  The base is painted with low-tox milk paint and tiled base keeps stray urine from contacting the wood. Two 24"x24" trays slide underneath for easy cleaning.  Wheeled legs make rearranging easy.  The wire cage just lifts off for easy cleaning. The entire ensemble wheels easily down the hall and out the back door for cleaning...unlike those unweildy 30"x36" cages.  These new pens have an increased floor space of 72 square inches compared to my roomiest cages (30"x36").

I should mention that our work has been months in progress. These cages are version 2.0. The first version had solid floors and was a stinky urine wet wool disaster...immediately scratched. I'm sure that two months from now my DH will hear those dreaded words from me..."Hey, Honey! How about if we....?"  That is how I am.  I prefer to think of myself as forward progressive, but those actually living with me may think differently. Either way,  I am so thankful that he is always willing to try whatever crazy idea I have.  Such patience is hard to find.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Texas Angora Rabbit Club

As promised, we are pleased to announce the formation of a new club...

The Texas Angora Rabbit Club!!

Our goal is to be good ambassadors for Angora rabbits in the great state of Texas.  So...without further adue...

Please make plans to attend our first organizational meeting during the 2012 TRBA State Show!

Meeting Place:  Texas Angora Rabbit Club booth at the TRBA State Show (Belton Expo Center, Belton, TX)

Meeting Time:  Our first organizational meeting is at 12:30pm on Saturday (March 31st), but you're welcome to stop by any time.  We'll have Angora info, fiber and fiber arts, spindle and spinning wheel,  and knowledgeable folks to answer your Angora questions. :)

Please note: Our meeting agenda, Proposed Constitution & By-Laws will be posted approximately two weeks before the show.  

If you'd like to stay up to date on the Texas Angora Rabbit Club, please email us at: and we'll put you on the email distribution list.  

In the meantime, feel free to join us on Facebook Group Texas Angora Rabbit Club

We'll be posting info there as well.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Animal Manager Application

My Animal Manager Control Panel
Just wanted to share an animal management system that is a little bit different from the more familiar Evans, Breeder's Assistant and Kintraks...

Homestead Apps released an app to help hobby and urban farmers manage their animals - My Animal Manager.

Monthly Summary..note the solid row of zeros
in the income section.
My Animal Manager is a management system that helps you organize record keeping for all of your animals...including rabbits.  You can separate finances by animal type, keep show records, medical, feed, production, pedigrees, breeding records and month by month comparisons for last 3 years...alot of the standard stuff.  The thing that makes My Animal Manager a bit different from other systems is that it is a SaaS product.  Software as a Service (SaaS) means that your data is online ...kept secure by encryption...and accessible from any device with internet access.  Think Cloud computing.  This allows me to log in and enter information right from the rabbit's cage instead of "remembering" or "jotting down notes" for input at a later time.  There is no download or installation necessary. No worries about my own computer crashing and losing data.  Everything is up in the "Cloud." Updates are automatic and free.  Sounds interesting, huh?  I thought so I tried it.  So far, it's pretty good and useful for bunny applications.  
Individual animal record example

Here's what I found:

  • I could enter multiple animal species.  It's nice to have all the critter's stuff in one area...which allowed me to totally gloat that my bunnies haven't cost near as much as our daschund mix's outrageous (and thus far, partially successful) dog training classes.  Crazy dog!
  • For the most part animal entry is pretty intuitive. It was easy to figure out.  The only exception was pedigree information.  I couldn't find it.  However, I just clicked on online help and someone promptly responded with how to get to the pedigree part and how to enter sires, dams, etc.  Good service was another plus.
  • There are cool charts for all kinds of meat, egg, and fiber production, including withdrawal dates for meat and egg producers.  I find this part particularly useful for my Angoras.  I am able to record how many ounces of fiber I harvest from each animal very easily.  And of course, looking at the blank egg production section made me want to add chickens to our menagerie.     
  • There is a section to record buck breeding info as well as doe breeding info.  I can keep track of how "potent" those boy bunnies are.  There is also a pregnancy report...and of course breeding records.  
  • You can track feed usage per animal, or per species.  Medical treatments records are available as well as a section for veterinarian visits, if necessary.  
  • The main panel current year summary report is like a little dashboard controller that gives you an overview to all your info. I haven't entered all my last year totals(receipts) yet, but it will be nice to have a comparison.  

  • My Animal Manager is $14.95 for a ONE-YEAR subscription.  It's written pretty plain, but since I'm used to seeing "app" and thinking "just buy once", my bad. Still, though, it's pretty cheap to get started. Yippee!! I haven't really done the math on this one, but something tells me that it might add up if you use it a while.  Keep in mind, though, updates are free, so maybe not so much of a con.   I also didn't see a place to export or import must enter it manually at first. Yuck, if you've got lots of buns.
  • Pedigree info grand champion fields are only about three characters long.  I have grand champion numbers in some pedigrees that are six they don't fit.  Boo.  I just used an empty field that said ID number and adjusted it to read GCH#.  That showed up on the pedigree just fine.  By the way, pedigrees themselves are plain jane, but have all the ARBA necessary stuff, like weight, registration #(right ID), tattoo# (left ID), and weight.  
  • No genetics info.  Although fun to play with, I'm not too upset about that.  I like to figure out genetics the old fashioned way and there's always online genetics calculators to check my work.  Just make sure they are reliable. However, it would be nice to have some inbreeding coefficent info.  
  • No show entry forms.  That would be super handy.
  • If you want to track feed usage AND feed expenses, you have to enter it twice...once in the feed screen and once in the expenses screen.  What's up with that?  I see that they are constantly updating, so I hope that they will adjust that soon.  Hasn't been too much of a hassle yet, though.  
Everyone I know compares everything to Evans.  Evans, it is not...yet.  Evans is definitely a more robust product...with a more robust price. My Animal Manager is another option if you need to keep electronic records at a more affordable entry price...and you want chickens, too.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Victoria Livestock Show WrapUp...and a Sneak Preview

Judge Ken has the honors for Show A...
Ricardo and I cooping our rabbits
I have a fabulous time at this weekend's Victoria Livestock Show.  I was sooo excited to see the Angora breeds well represented.  That was the most I had seen at a Texas open show. There were at least 5 exhibitors with 13 (8 EA, 5 SA)...count 'em 13 beautiful Angora rabbits.

As far as EA folks, I got to see Danielle and her girls again.  Their REW girl, Chrissy, was looking beautiful as always.  Danielle's girls had a precious little chocolate junior buck as well.  
Sasha came with her stellar REW, Indy...who won his junior class at the ARBA 2011 Convention guessed it, Indy :)  She had some a couple of her beautiful does, chocolate Stormy and lilac Bunny Foo Foo. 

Ricardo came down with his wonderful REW girl as well.  He shared some wonderful advice about breeding for convention that completely (and happily) changed my upcoming thanks, Ricardo!

Dana also brought some gorgeous Satin Angoras that...when they weren't trying to sell themselves right out from under her...showed quality breeding.  Of course, she brought my "bunny crush" obsession, Romeo,and some outstanding juniors.
Beautiful Angoras... as far as the eye can see.

I bought Cimmerian (although not in full coat) and my hubby's junior lilac pearl doe, Defiance. Mr. Biggles came along for the ride.  I brought him so Sasha could put her hands on him.  I want to start a broken EA line with Mr. B as the herd buck.  As suspected, Mr. Biggles is worthy of such a task.  I've just got to find the right doe.

Sasha gave us a pencil drafting lesson.  We all sat on the floor in Danielle's area and watched Sasha turn Chrissy's white fluff into beautiful angora yarn.  I can't wait to try what she taught us...maybe that Hershey scarf wouldn't seem like such a far off project :)

Ricardo passed on some of his grooming knowledge while we watched him trim up a bunny.  I got another grooming tool idea from Sasha and Dana reminded me of a fantastic anti-static Angora tip learned at Convention.  DH was kind enough to go to the store and pick some up for us for Show B.   Yay, for no fly-away haired bunnies!

Here's the show results:
Show A
English Angora BOB - Sasha M.  REW Buck
English Angora BOS - Danielle N. REW Doe
Satin Angora BOB - Dana F. Red Buck
Satin Angora BOS - Dana F. Tortoiseshell Doe

Show B
English Angora BOB - Ricardo G.  REW Doe
English Angora BOS - Sasha M. REW Buck
Satin Angora BOB - Dana F. Red Buck
Satin Angora BOS - Dana F. Tortoiseshell Doe

We made a nice crowd at the judging table.
Great job, everyone!  It was so nice to see so many fine animals representing our breeds. On a side note, I was so pleased that Defiance won her class in Show A.  I am excited to see how she develops when she's old enough to compete with the big girls.  Cimmerian got BOV in Show A. Sasha's lilac doe won BOV in Show B, but there was no beating the REWs today...very fine rabbits :)

Anyhow, I had sooo much fun!   BUT the most exciting news was the organization of an new club.  We've decided to share our Angora fun with the world (or at least Texas...which for Texans, IS the world) and form the...
 Texas Angora Rabbit Club!! Angora club for all Texas Angora, fiber, or companion animals!  It's an exciting time for us Angora folks.  I'll have more details in another post, but I couldn't completely keep a lid on it.  If you are interested in staying up to date in our development process, please contact me at: thekelflaproject (at) We'll will put you on the email list for TARC so you can be kept up to date about information such as our organizational meeting, educational workshops, etc. Of course, I'll be posting info here as well. Shortly, we'll have our TARC blog where you can follow as well.  But beware......Angoras are addicting ;)

Oh, yes.  I definitely have some work to do for my show polls.  Completely my fault.  I waited super late to post it due to my own silly illness.  Many thanks to those who took the time to answer it :) I'll get on the ball for the next one!

Friday, February 10, 2012

"The Nervous New Owner's Guide to Angora Rabbits" Book Review

The Nervous New Owner's Guide to
Angora Rabbits by Suzie Sugrue
I ran across this new resource for new Angora folks over the summer. I just had to order it. I liked it so much that I ordered a  batch to make available to new Angora bunny parents.

This book is a wonderful little Angora book that focuses on the fiber bunny.  It contains most of the basic information that I spent hours searching the internet for.  My DH would have probably rather just paid the $16 bucks, just to have all that time back...but I digress :)

The book covers all the basics of life with an Angora rabbit...housing, feeding, grooming, and health.  It also covers harvesting wool, storage, and a multitude of other Angora resources.

My favorite part of the book is the section telling yourself to be forgiving.  Having Angoras can be quite daunting if you've never done it before.  There's lots of sources out there that try to scare the dickens out of you grooming wise.  That's OK, though, because you want to be aware that these kinds of rabbits are different than most other breeds.  There is the extra element of grooming...and that should not to be taken lightly because neglect in this area will mean a painful life for your rabbit and possibly result in their death. Don't fret though...most people find that grooming their rabbits is a wonderfully relaxing activity.  I am glad to hear Suzie give solid recommendations like:

  • "spend the money necessary to obtain pedigreed rabbits from excellent stock" I can't say this enough.....don't skimp, don't skimp on good stock.  That doesn't mean spend a lot of money.  That means take the time to know breed standards...and what to look for.  It will pay off if you later decide to breed/show.  
  •   "Don't panic! [Mats are] not the mark of a delinquent owner" Like so many other things, matts happen.  It doesn't make you terrible...just comb/clip them out. But, be careful...excessive matting is a sign that your rabbit is molting. I will also note that excessive matting is painful to your rabbit's skin.  They feel better when all brushed out.  Don't be scared to ask for help. We've all been there.
  •  And her recommendation that it is OK to keep your angora in a safe place outdoors...although, for Texas buns, that's a bit tough, except for a few months of the year.  I recommend some sort of climate controlled area if you live in Texas.
Suzie also covers why it is best to wait a bit before you breed your angoras and all the different ways to hold your angora for grooming. Do you know what the football hold, the baby hold, and the ragdoll hold are?  Good stuff!

If you are interested in obtaining a copy of Suzie's book "The Nervous New Owner's Guide to Angoras" I do have copies available with me at the shows I attend for $15 a copy ($13 with rabbit purchase).  If you just want to preview a copy, I always bring mine to shows. You are welcome to flip through it to check it out...just ignore the highlighter and pencil marks.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Harvesting Hershey

Hershey in coat
Patiently waiting for me to finish...sort of.
I love her round body. 

Well, I've been holding off on removing Hershey girl's coat because we have a couple of shows that I really wanted her to make.  However, Hershey decided that her coat has had enough so it was time to clip her down. I usually take a couple of days to do it as she is super dense and my hands can only take the "clip, clip" of scissors for so long before they start crying.  She was super patient as I clipped her down.  I got the top of her today.  Tomorrow I'll take off her underside wool. It gave me a chance to be reminded about how wonderful a rabbit she is underneath all that wool.  AND, gave me new motivation to negotiate a deal with DH to breed her a wee bit earlier than I had originally planned....since she's already clipped down and all.  That would give me some nice convention babies....bwhahahahahah :)

By the way...Hershey produced 5.4 ounces of yummy fiber from her top side.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Hoppin' Circle January WrapUp

Fisher Farms shows us her wonderful show results and ribbons. Congrats Clint on your first leg!

The Kelfla Project shares some scientific tidbits centered around rabbits.

Bella's Rabbitry tells us about new stock she has coming in, and announces that she isn't selling out completely, after all.

At Home Pets tells us of a nice experience she had with a buyer.

4 Kings Rabbitry gives us a peak inside her extremely organized rabbitry by showing us her binder.

The Rabbit Shepherd shows that even rabbits can be supermodels.

Breeding goals are always important to have in a rabbitry. Hendricks Hearth shares some of theirs.

Rabbit Smarties is back to blogging with her post on the Rocky Syndrome.

The Fuzzy Patch shares some great changes they have planned for their herd.

The Nature Trail shows off an adorable picture of a Smoke Pearl Netherland Dwarf.
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