Monday, October 22, 2012

Adopt-A-Teacher Program

The American Agriculture Alliance recently received a grant to give out 200 Adopt-A-Teacher kit at no cost to those who request one.  We sent an application in for one of our area schools.  

We received a letter today from the organization saying our sponsorship of an Adopt-A-Teacher kit was accepted! I was excited to see that there were all types of books, videos, brochures, and an educational CD with printable activity sheets that teachers can use to teach children about agriculture. 

So many people today do not realize the connection between the farm and the food we eat. It's awesome that most of us can run to the grocery store and buy what we need. However, it is also important to know where our food comes from.   

There were categories for general animal agriculture (Rabbits fit here.), pork, poultry, beef, dairy, and lamb.  The teacher receives posters about food and farms, virtual farm tours CD, animal fact brochures, "Adopt A Cow" flyer, and activity sheets that highlight housing, nutrition, and animal welfare.

The Animal Agriculture Alliance, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a broad-based coalition of individual farmers, ranchers, producer organizations, suppliers, packer-processors, scientists, veterinarians, and retailers. The Alliance's mission is to communicate the important role of animal agriculture to our nation's economy, productivity, vitality, and security. The Alliance shows how animal well-being is central to producing safe, high-quality, affordable food and other products essential to our daily lives

Friday, October 19, 2012

We Have TWO Yarn Shops Now!

So...there's this new yarn shop right around the corner from my house. This could be trouble. 

I've been there about three times within the week and plan to be there tonight for the Friday night group.  Figured that this would be a wonderful way to prep for Christmas gifts.  I already have a list of items I wish to make for the holidays.  Now I just have to carve out time to make everything. 

My current project is a shawl for Mom (Cassie don't tell lol).  I chose a wonderful Malabrigo worsted weight yarn in a color called Paris Nights.  It's beautiful....dark blue with a touch of forest green.  Looks like the deep ocean.  Fabulous!  
The shop is stocked with KnitPicks, Malabrigo yarns, dyed roving, wool, spindles and an assortment of other fiber fiend goodies. 

And best of all...that's not the only yarn shop in town. Yay! The other one is the Old Spinning Wheel shop. I really like it, too. 

Old Spinnng Wheel has a nice complement of items like Cascade yarns, wonderful books, and also KnitPicks.  They have a group that meets on Thursdays if you're on that side of town. I'm so happy to see fiber enthusiasts have places of their own in our area.

If you're in the Central Texas area, check them both out....Wools & Tools and The Old Spinning Wheel.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Learning to Dye Yarn

One of the perks of being a TARC club member is access to all our webinars...not bad for $5 a year.  I have gotten a lot of great information from these little informal webinars.  My favorite so far was the interactive webinar Dyeing with Dana.  It was so much fun!  

I gathered all the supplies and dyed my yarn along with Dana from Gray Haven Farms.  We had a great time! I chose Berry Punch and Lemon Lime Flavor Aid.  I'm very pleased with the color.  Dana showed us how to dye our yarn, dry it, and then card it using slicker brushes.  

Once my wool dried, I couldn't resist trying my drop spindle again and spun the yarn.  I made a 100% English Angora 2-ply yarn. Yay!

This was my first real attempt at making my own yarn so it's pretty lumpy (art yarn-ish) but I had a blast creating something myself from animals I raise. Best of all, it wasn't hard at all. 

 I only made a small amount of yarn so I searched the Web for a tiny project and found a cute, little bracelet.  I'm going to try to make it.

Once I'm done, I'll post a picture.  This was such a fun project. I can't wait to try more colors.    

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Litter Box Adventures - Part Deux

Continuing with the litter box theme...We also tried what we dubbed the "Sterilite Special". 

It is a modified Sterilite plastic storage bin.  This worked pretty well for our messier bucks.  It was definitely cheap...$1.25 spent on black plastic door guard trim.   

We simply used an old plastic container we had and the plastic door guard trim.  We started by drawing our door onto the container using a sharpie marker.  We then drilled a hole through the plastic (and inside the door we drew) so a jigsaw blade could fit in. We then used the jig saw to cut out the door. 

WARNING: Be very careful if you try doing this.  Wear safety glasses and watch hands/fingers.  Plastic cuts  very differently than wood.  We only made one because I was chicken about the cutting.  A Dremel might work better, but ours burnt out during one of my other "ideas".  

The door guard trim went around the cut edges to keep from snagging wool.  We drilled holes through the plastic and used carabiner clips to attach the litter box to the cage.  We placed wood pellets in the bottom and put a plastic foot pad over the pellets.  

The Sterilite Special worked well at first. Then our buck decided to just use the area just outside the litter box.  He didn't seem to like the "trapped in" feeling when he was inside.  I wonder if he'd like it better if we cut out two holes in the tote.  Rabbits always seem like to have another exit so that could have been the problem.  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Litter Box Adventures

I try to litterbox train rabbits before they go to another home.  I think this helps make owning just one or two rabbits (in a non-herd setting) much easier.  I try to set the rabbit up for success.  Most take to litterbox training very well.  This has lead to some experiments with different litter boxes as I try to balance what I like with what my pocketbook likes. Over the next few posts, I thought I would share a few of my litter box adventures.
The corner litter box with wire grate works great short term.  It is expensive, though.  I got mine for about $17 for the extra large corner litter box from a large chain pet retailer.  Sure, it's fine for one or two, but not a practical purchase for a herd.  

One of the problems with this type of litter box is that rabbits like to chew on the removable lip that comes with the litter box.  I don't know why the manufacturer even bothered to put it on.  I (or the rabbit) took all of them off of my litter boxes. 

The small wire grate is not very durable either.  I purchased several litter boxes over a period of time and most of the wire grates failed within 2 months of use.  These litter boxes do work great for kits and young juniors, though.  I usually leave these in my weaning pens.   

Also, feisty rabbits can learn to wiggle the latches that hold the litter box to the cage.  They then wear it as a hat...which is very entertaining to them and to me, but does not allow the litter box to serve its purpose, plus it is no fun to get pine pellets out of wool. I think this litter box is the prettiest though out of the ones I've tried.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

American Dwarf Hotot Rabbit Club Membership

I recently joined the ADHRC because...well, among other reasons, dwarf hotots are so stinkin' cute.  I have been looking at them...thanks, DH blog friends...for some time now.  I eventually will add another breed to my within the next year or so.  I wanted the second breed to be a regular haired rabbit, but one that would be challenging enough for me to stay interested (but hopefully not frustrated).  Of course, it had to be visually appealing as well.  I think dwarf hotots fit the bill.

The ADHRC seemed like a great place to start.  For a $10 membership, I got a great guide book, pamphlets, and general information about dwarf hotot rabbit breeders in my area.  I think that's a pretty good deal! I have already read the guide book from cover to cover.  There was lots of interesting information regarding DH genetics.  I'm learning a lot already. 

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