Thursday, December 31, 2009

Is 2010 really tomorrow?

Today is the final day of 2009, it marks the end of a truly wonderful and inspiring year.
So many nice things have happened this year in my life crossing all spectrums, I purchased my first home, I've continued to be fortunate enough to work in a field that I love, I've expanded my menagerie to include chickens, goats and guinea fowl.
While these few things may seem silly or small to others they are a huge part of who I am. With the rabbits some of my favorite accomplishments include granding my first ever rabbit, a homebred Belgian Hare doe Maeve, and probably the best surprise came in my mom's mail yesterday, I am number 3 in open Specialty points in Belgian Hares in the country!! I consider this a huge honor, especially since I've only attended 4 sanctioned Belgian Hare shows this entire year and have only been raising hares for 2 years!
2010 brings many plans, thoughts, ideas and goals to mind. In rabbits I hope to maintain my herd quality even if my numbers are smaller, and while I may not be able to shows as often as I have in the past, I do hope that my rabbits continue to perform well and meet my expectations and interpertations of their standards.
With the rest of the farm, I hope to continue to learn more about the animals I keep and to provide them with good care.
Outside the farm I hope to continue to learn more about veterinary medicine at work and perform well in class at college.
A huge thanks to everyone who made this year so wonderful, especially to my family for being so supportive of me. I hope 2010 brings great things to all, Happy New Year!
Burrito and Sage's itty bitties

A watchful momma Burrito

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Behind the Times


Please forgive me I'm still behind on updates for the Rabbit and Cavy Breeders Index. I should be mostly caught up on Tuesday. I think from here on out based on the volume of submissions received, that all updates will be done a weekly basis to make things easier for myself, I'll designate a day and time each week and add all new listings and so forth..
With the snow nearly gone from the warmer temperatures melting the remaining chunks of ice and snow I can finally get some serious barn cleaning completed tomorrow since the wheel barrel is no longer frozen in place... I'm just hoping it doesn't get stuck in the swirls of mud that are everywhere from the ground being so saturated with water. I'm looking forward to cleaning out the bunny barn, the chicken coop and the goat barn, and I'm sure the inhabitants will be pleased with clean digs too.
As PaSRBA creeps closer and closer I need to make some tough decisions about my rabbits, I will not have the time to manage the size herd I have now.. I need to cut my numbers back significantly.. as such I have been slowly but surely going through the barn trying to decide who I'm going to sell. So far Pinto Bean, Fajita and Double are absolutely for sale. But more Rhinelanders will have to be sold too, including nearly all of the babies I've produced.. its not easy picking out who can move on and who stays.. I hope to have my finalized sales list with photos prepared at least 2 weeks prior to PaSRBA. I'll post on the blog once its all set!
Now, back to Rhinelanders, specifically Sage and Burrito's kits - they are doing very well, all babies have their eyes open and are begining to explore the world a bit. They will be moving back out to the barn once they're 2.5-3 weeks old and can tolerate the unheated barn temperatures. The babies are very cute and I will have some new photos to share in the next few days.
And finally, with my days of regular-rabbit showing rapidly coming to an end I've decided to branch out into something I've wanted to do for a while. I'm currently fostering a young pit bull mix named Sally for Bully Paws, a local pit bull and bully breed rescue. Fostering wasn't possible before now due to my rabbit shows and travels. I will be able to take her to adoption events on the weekends when I won't be able to drive up to rabbit shows due to my work hours. Sally is a sweet girl, who has some behavior problems I will be working on to curb. Pit Bulls are difficult dogs to foster since they are so prone to dog aggression and possesive/rescource guarding behavior (especially rescues!) With some work I'm optimistic Sally will make a great companion, we just have to get her better socialized.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Being Thankful

Losing alot of baby bunnies is very disheartening, it really throws you off and absolutely makes you sad when you think of so many little lives cut so short.
But, despite all the losses we rabbit breeders suffer, we keep going and we're thankful for the small blessings we get to experience.
Today I'm feeling thankful that I have 7 wiggly Rhinelander kits, while it may be that only 1 is showable in the end, its nice to see them active and nursing well.
I am also thankful that Jasmine the Belgian Hare kindled her litter, while all 3 kits are deceased, 2 DOA, 1 died shortly after, I am thankful she is healthy and doing well post delivery and that she will be able to be re-bred in a few weeks time.
Since Jasmine is not going to be busy raising any Belgian Hares, I moved her back out to the bunny barn and cleaned her cage and moved Burrito indoors to raise her kits. Normally I take the nestboxes out to both her and Sage each morning to nurse but since I just got back to work and will be doing mostly overnights it makes more sense to leave them full time with one mom since I can't gurantee I'll be home to get them out to be fed consistently. This will be my first time leaving a nestbox with a momma doe full time so early on in the lives of the baby bunnies.
I chose Burrito over Sage because Burrito was born in my rabbitry and raised by me, so she knows me very well, she is very gentle, easy going and an excellent momma. Sage is also a good momma but she is much too territorial and I don't want to get attacked each time I play with the babies.
Sage will supplement these kits as needed with extra feedings if I believe they need them over the next week, although at this point 7 kits is a very manageable number for Burrito to raise on her own. I will dry Sage off and then will re-breed her sometime in mid January, at that time I will also be breeding Trixie and Jasmine again.
Here are a few new photos:

Sage in the nursury cage, she's currently working on her hay mountain in the left hand corner..
The wole litter, 5 marked, 2 charlies. The baby with the necrosis on its ears and paw can be seen in the very top of the baby bunny pile. (Notice the darkended tips on its ears) This baby will loose those ear tips and a good porition of its paw. Its nurses well and is active so I'll give it a chance to grow and see how it fairs with out a part of its front foot, animals live with a great number of handicaps with good qualities of life, I am optimistic this baby may have that chance.

The 4 marked (on top of the marked baby with necrosis) These babies are the best marked Rhinelanders I have produced so far. In the end the large marked kit at the very top of this pile is in fact out of Sage and Pinto, I mistook it for another of Burritos, but it really is Sage's. So Sage does have one surviving marked baby that shows great potential, hopefully some more orange will come in soon to make it showable.

There's alot to be thanful for with bunnies and today I'm thankful for these little cuties who hopefully will thrive.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Planning for the future of my rabbitry

When I moved down the country I was so sure that stackers were the way to go in terms of housing my non-Belgian Hare breeds.

After 2 years of using wire stackers, I am FED UP! The labor involved with emptying trays is ridiculous. It takes me more time to dump, sanitize and refill trays then it takes me to clean out my solid bottomed Belgian Hare hutches.

I recently posted on Rabbit Habbit Forums asking what everyone's opinion is on flush clean systems. Unanimously people agreed that a flush clean/hanging setup is much lower maintenence and easier to clean than those dreaded stackers.

I fully intend to implement a brush clean setup similar to what Spring Creek Gems uses sometime early next year. I like the concept of brush clean so there isn't a ton of water splashing around like in a flush clean system (no wet rabbits-no wet cleaner!) I also like it because you can still use plenty of hay in your feeding programs without clogging any drains.

I won't be able to implement this new project until sometime next year, and I will not be able to eliminate stackers entirely. My bunny barn is only 24' long so I'll be limited to between 12-16 holes for the brush clean setup, I will have to keep my extra stackers for grow outs, and of course any bunny that uses a litterbox can stay in a stacker too since their trays don't need to be cleaned on a regular basis. In order to install this system I will have to undertake a rather large additional bunny construction project first.

My 16x12 second bunny barn with a 4'x8' addition on the rear will have to be converted for the Belgian Hares to move into. At the moment my group of 3 pet bunnies live in there but they will be moved back into the house or I'll find another setup appropriate for them, the barn still needs alot of work including laminate flooring, air conditioner installation and new windows but as soon as I get the logistics and financing worked out the project will begin.

In essence I will have two seperate bunny barns when the two projects are complete, a Belgian Hare barn that can accomodate up to 15 senior hares at any time and a barn for my Rhinelanders that would be able to house about 24 senior bunnies. My goal of course is to keep my numbers well under that but it will be nice to have space to grow out promising juniors and not be so cramped in one building which is my current complaint with both breeds housed under one roof.

Project updates will be posted on the blog, at the moment though the projects are simply plans, the more pressing issue is digging out of the 2 feet of snow that is covering the entire farm, I'm hopeful that tomorrow evening I will be able to return to work after missing 3 nights due to being snowed in. All the animals are tolerating the immense amount of snow as best they can, the goats and chickens who are outside creatures are particularly displeased but I'm hoping the snow will melt soon and the resulting mud will make them much happier.

In bunny news, I am down to 7 kits from Sage and Burrito, there are NO surviving marked babies from Sage, all of the marked survivors are from Burrito, one of her marked has suffered from necrosis on its paw and ear tips, the dead tissue is sloughing off, despite this it seems healthy otherwise. This leaves me with 4 marked babies that potentially can be shown. The two other babies are charlies, one from Sage, the other from Burrito, they will both be culled at 12 weeks. The loss of so many babies is very disapointing but one of the realities of raising rabbits. I will say that I much prefer smaller litters than these large litters with so many weak kits. Sage and Burrito are taking turns nursing the 7 kits, I'm waiting on Jasmine the hare to kindle, I plan on having Sage or Burrito raise some of her kits assuming she kindles a live litter.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snowed In

Looks like Virginia has been hit with the snow storm of the century. Here near Orange County at the base of the Blue Ridge we're stuck under a good 17 inches!
While the dogs don't mind.. I certainly do! I can't keep up with making paths to and from the barns. I hope everyone in this weather is doing okay.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

13 new Rhinelander kits total

Sage and Burrito's combined litter of 13

Sage lost 7 total from her litter of 10. I am left with 2 marked and 1 charlie. While these 3 survivors seem on the normal side I did notice this morning that all 3 of their tail tips look necrotic, the tissue is black and I have a feeling that they will loose their tails soon. This will make the 2 marked unshowable.. what a dissapointment! I'll be monitoring her 3 very closely, I have my fingers crossed they will pull through. Hopefully her next litter some time next year will be more succesful with a different buck.

Burrito kindled right when I got off work around 1 am this morning, 1 day late just like her momma Fajita. She had 12, 2 DOA and 10 normals. I believe there was 1 sport and 1 charlie in her litter, and 8 marked - nicely marked for the most part at that.

I combined the two litters since Sage's "dead" tailed kits are so easy to tell apart, plus their markings are so unique they're easy to distinguish. I've split them into 2 groups for nursing visits (the bigs and the smalls) 6 in the small group (the babies are smaller - all of these are Burritos) who Burrito will be raising (I know what a good mom Fajita and Churro are so my theory is Burrito will be a good mom too since mothering abilities are partially genetic.) The 7 bigs will be raised by Sage. Sage has already fed her 7 this morning and they're doing well, I'm currently waiting on pins and needles for Burrito's kits to get their first meals and then will breathe alot easier.

Just like usual I will be bringing the babies inside until they are able to safely live in the barn with their moms in the cold. The temperature has really dropped and I'm so paranoid about them freezing even if they're covered with a ton of fur and added wool from my angoras.

So counting my other litters this brings my baby count to 21. Out of those 21 I have 4 charlies (I think..) 2 sports (for sure) and 15 marked with probably half or so of my marked unshowable due to DQs of some sort.. Rhinelanders are not an easy breed to raise that is for sure!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The crappy side of raising rabbits

Sage kindled 10 seemingly healthy, wiggly baby Rhinelanders today, 7 marked, 2 charlies, 1 sport.

By mid-day half the litter was dead, and the other 5 look terrible.. I doubt a single one will survive the day.

I don't know exactly what went wrong with them but I believe that they were just not meant to be.

Its a real shame but a reality of raising rabbits. While Sage did a great job, kindled right in the box, covered them with fur and so forth I think that this litter was doomed before she had them. I will give her some time off before she is re-bred since this was such a large litter size. Depending on if Burrito kindles today I may give her some of Burrito's kits to raise and perhaps some of Jasmines if Jasmine has success on Friday. I'll just have to play it by ear... sad day on the farm with so many dead babies.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ready for more photos?

Today was a good day to get some barn cleaning accomplished. I got all the hare hutches cleaned and all the Rhinelander trays. I'm still working on litter training Duke, Newton, Jasmine and BJ, it would make cleaning their hutches so much easier. So far I'm having success with the boys only Jasmine is refusing point blank to use her litter box.. I'm not giving up though!
The little Rhinelanders aren't so little anymore, they're starting to fill up their "nursery" cage I keep in my office. Since I mixed the litters together from their births they get along just fine and they all co-exist peacefully when I bring them inside for their socialization lessons.
I keep trying to snap a cute photo of them all piled together napping, but each time I inch closer with the camera they wake right up and zoom over to the door wanting to be pet and played with.. they're at the stage where they still sleep alot but are very active too since there is an exciting world out there for them to explore.
Sage and Jasmine are both still full of babies, Sage is due on Wednesday and Jazz is due this Friday. Burrito and Trixie are both due Weds, but I know Trixie missed so she will be re-bred this week, Burrito I'm not sure about so I'm giving her a nestbox and will wait and see what happens. I'm excited for more baby bunnies!
Here are some photos, enjoy:

Reuben demonstrating yet again why American Pit Bull Terriers are wonderful dogs and my absolute favorite breed ever. Here he is sleeping with his favorite, the sport from Churro's litter.

Baby Bunny Pile

The adorable Sunkist

Snuggle time

I got some Angora blowing/grooming done today too, I'm letting Ruby grow her coat out until some time next year to harvest for spinning. She's such a pretty princess, she was clipped in September and her coat is at 4 inches now, I'll harvest it again in the spring when its around 6-8 inches.

Here's Blizzard my not-so handsome English Angora, his coat actually is doing okay for once, I usually keep him sheared VERY short because he has a bad angora coat, very soft, almost no guard hair that naturally webs starting from the belly going up. I've been working his coat for over a year now and he's finally starting to relax and not web as much. I'm going to give him a shot at grow out and see what sort of texture he ends up with. His coat is just over an inch long at the moment.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Some more photos!

Most of the photos on the blog today are already on my website since I finally got the majority of my winter layout up. (Still have a few things to tweak for next week)
This weekend is going to be hectic since I'm working some rough shifts, but next week I have kindling does to look forward to so no complaints here.
All the bunnies are doing well, as are the other farm creatures. I will try and get some more Rabbit and Cavy Breeders Index updates completed early next week on my days off.
And onto the photos: (All Rhinelanders!)
This is Imagination's Sunkist a baby from Theo x Fajita, out all my marked babies this is the only little doe. She's a cutie!
Pinto Bean looking handsome, he is currently for sale, priced at $70.00 he is a nice buck, he is proven and registered, would make an excellent starter buck. Very sweet bunny, loves to play with toys!
The Knoxville Zoo's Seven aka Clown, I LOVE this buck, and am so thankful to have him, I can't wait to show his next year and see what he produces.
Ferchaud's Theodore, a handsome fellow who definetely passes his orange on.
Fajita X Theo's 3 marked kits, so far all are showable.
Fajita x Theo's entire litter of 5
Churro x Rupert's litter of 3, they are getting very big
A hopefully pregnant Burrito
Churro x Rupert's two marked, Double on the left (unshowable due to double cheek spot) and Pizazz, both bucks.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Winter News

Winter is here in Virginia now, absolutely in full force! I had five inches of snow this past weekend, which thankfully has melted but unfortunately has left behind a muddy wake that squelches under your boots... the dogs thoroughly enjoyed the snow, everything else of the farm was not really amused, especially my divas, the goats and chickens!
Apart from the farm, I'm finally more adjusted to working over-nights and weekends at the emergency vet. In the near month I've been there I've seen some pretty rough cases and some miracles too. Its been a long time since I've worked in emergency veterinary medicine but I remember now why I enjoy working it so much.
On the farm things are falling into more of a routine every day which is helpful since I return to college classes twice a week at the end of January and having a pattern with farm management will help keep me on top of my chorse and responsibilities.
Today I was planning to do a multi-bunny, whole herd photo shoot but the clouds rolled in only after photographing my hares so I decided to put off the rest of the bunnies til another day, hopefully with more sun.
I did some light cleaning and checked on the does who are due next week. Looks like Trixie has missed again, she was nesting in her litterbox today and pulled tons of fur, a sure sign of a false pregnancy, she's as lean as ever so I don't think we'll have any kits from her. She'll be re-bred next week some time. Jasmine who is on loan from Keep's Rabbitry (thanks Kristen!) is HUGE, she's FULL of baby Belgian Hares. She's due at the end of next week and I have a feeling I'll have to foster some of her babies to my heavy milking Rhinelanders if I'm right about her litter size. Burrito I'm pretty sure is pregnant too, although not 100% certain. I'm excited to see what she and Seven (Clown) produce, their markings compliment one another nicely. Sage is definetely pregnant, much like Jasmine. She's got a whole bunch of Rhinelanders in her belly, I've noticed that Lorena's bunnies tend to have large litters compared to my other lines in my Rhinelanders.
Fajita and Churro are both doing well and taking excellent care of their babies. I do plan to use both of them as foster mommas if needed for my new batches of litters due next week, since their babies are eating mostly solid foods now and they both have large milk supplies. Churro's babies are just over a month old, Fajita's are a little over 3 weeks. I'll have individual photos of them soon, I'm waiting until I am certain about sexes.
I'm working hard on my winter layout for the website, and am finally catching up on the rabbit and cavy breeders index in terms of listings and photo submissions. Thanks for being patient with me! That's really all for now, hopefully I'll have more photos to share if the sun decides to shine again some time soon.

GC Imagination's Maeve, she's pretty as usual, and smack dab in a molt, hopefully she'll clean up by PaSRBA.

Imagination's Gem, she's looking more like Maeve every day, I'm debating whether or not I will be breeding her or Emmer this month.. almost finished molting now!

Imagination's Emmer, she's such a sweet bunny. She's a bit heavier in type but still lovely. I think I'm going to breed her instead of Gem but I can't quite make up my mind..

Imagination's Duke, such a handsome bunny! His molt is almost finished and he'll be in his prime at PaSRBA hopefully if he can keep condition.

Keep's Bandito Jr. (BJ thanks Kristen for the nick-name idea!) BJ is such a cutie, he's playful and sweet, and he's growing up everyday. He's still a baby but I think he's going to be a very handsome fellow when he's grown up.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

In Loving Memory of Melody

May 2003 - December 3, 2009
Today was a sad day on the farm, my first ever baby bunny that I raised from 6 weeks to 6 years passed away. She got her name because my mom and I thought we were being ironic since we thought she was deaf, turns out she had extremely selective hearing, her favorite word to ignore was "no," of course.
Melody was my 3rd bunny ever, she was with me from the summer before my junior year in highschool all the way to moving to Imagination Acres. She was a bunny full of attitude, she was spunky, playful, naughty and sweet when she wanted to be.
I have so many memories of Melody, of her super long ears when she was a baby, of her jumping on top of tables to eat plants and flowers when no-one was looking. I remember when she got 22 stitches the winter of 2005 at the ER vet from bite wounds after a fight with Jules and how my mom had to feed her kibble by kibble until she recovered while I was abroad in Peru and Bolivia.. I remember almost losing her this time last year to GI stasis and her miraculous recovery thanks to the compassionate care of a very good Doctor and alot of intense treatments.
Mostly I will remember her as a rabbit with loads of confidence, a rabbit with her own opinions and as a friend who would sit on the top of the couch with me snuggled into my neck for hours on end.
Melody had a good long life, and a failing heart, she was eating and bouncing about this morning, by evening when I went out to lock the pet bunny barn she had passed away, she was nestled among her companions Elmo, Cinder and even Jules, I take comfort knowing she was not alone when she passed but was with her familiar bunny companions.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Baby Rhinelanders & Show News

Due to a change in my work schedule I will NOT be at the Richmond Rabbit Breeeders Show this weekend. I will miss seeing you all there and wish you all safe travels and hope you all have lots of fun, I'll see you at PaSRBA in February 2010.
Next year my show schedule as I've mentioned before will continue to be cut down significantly, there just won't be time for the traveling involved with my work hours, farm responsibilities and school commitments.
Don't worry, I am not going to be selling out of rabbits by any means, I just will not be showing because of other more important commitments.
I am VERY BEHIND ON DIRECTORY UPDATES! My apologies, I plan to spend most of tomorrow catching up on them, I am so sorry for the delays!
Here are some photos of the growing Rhinelander kits:

Marked and Sport baby out of Churro and Rupert, 3.5 weeks old

Marked baby with a pretty, clean face and ears going all which ways.

Fajita's babies out of Theodore, 3 marked

Fajita's babies, 2.5 weeks old

Fajita snuggling with 2 of her babies.

Churro with her brood

Momma Churro and baby

Baby nibbles on hay