Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Back in the Swing of Things

Well my first two days of class have come and gone, and all I can say is.. wow.. I'm in for some serious studying! I had a quiz in my very first lab today.. and I'm quite certain that with my luck I have more to look forward to in my next two labs tomorrow and Thursday too.

This is the time of year when life is incredibly busy for me. I'm either on the road commuting to work or college, cleaning/maintaining the animals, working or studying. Blog posts will probably a bit short/further between this fall while I focus on class. Don't worry though I'm not abandoning the blog, just taking some breaks between my posts!

To those who have returned to school/college this fall, good luck with your studies, I can certainly relate to finding that healthy balance between studying, learning, working and enjoying your time with your beloved critters!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Retired Does

Trixie up front stretched out with Jasmine

Rabbit Breeders tend to move out their older does once they pass the 2 year mark. Alot of these older does have produced many litters of beautiful offspring and perhaps in their youngers days were star show rabbits. Once older, their value in production drops and they are replaced by their daughters.
Personally, I think certain special does deserve to live a "retirement," life. At the moment I have two Belgian Hare does who recently moved into the retirement run. 4' x 12' long this run can comfortably accomodate up to 4 retired does at any time. With space at a premium at the moment in my hare hutches I decided to go ahead and start mixing my first set of retired does so that their hutches could be used to house my growing juniors.
Trixie and Jasmine are both lovely, proven brood does who have raised beautiful babies and now are officially retired from breeding. Both over 2 years old and in lovely condition they now will live out the rest of their days enjoying the care free life of retirement.
Belgian Hares tend to be quite mild mannered, I often leave young does with their mothers until they reach 4-6 months of age before I separate them into their own hutches. I have found that hares tend to be more tolerant of their own kind (fellow rabbits) than many other breeds and I generally don't have issues letting does (especially family members) play together in the yard. While I wouldn't house two adults together in a hutch, in a large run like the retirement run there is plenty of room for the rabbits to have their own space, although I've noticed that they still tend to pile up next to one another snuggling. One day I hope to be able to do a colony style housing operation with my hares, I think they would be a great breed candidate for that kind of operation and if set up correctly could save quite a bit of time with maintenance, cleaning and perhaps even feed if pasture is utilized.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rhinelander photos and some thoughts

I've blogged in the past about why people don't last in rabbits. Having been involved in showing rabbits for 3 years this coming fall I've seen a fair number of long time enthusiasts and newbies get out of rabbits completely, along with quite the rotating door of newer rabbits folks come, go, and come back.
Raising any animal wether it be guppies to horses has its challenges. There are expenses involved, there are heartaches and losses and there a great immeasurable joys.
I think the reason alot of new rabbit breeders don't stick with it are becuase they get overwhelmed. Many people might buy too many rabbits when they get started, they may also have ideas that their rabbits will be the best on the show tables and become disapointed when they don't immediately start winning. They might experience a difficult kindling with an expectant doe, they could loose a young litter, the list goes on and on of the trial and tribulations new rabbit breeders go through. It takes a special kind of new rabbit person to go through all these expereinces and still have a desire to raise rabbits.
Other rabbit enthusiasts are forced out of rabbits due to neccesity, not choice. I cannot imagine how difficult it would be to have to sell out due to finances, county ordinances or family responsibilities.
I remember over the years the many times I contemplated getting out of rabbits, but stuck it out. I feel a strong commitment to my bunnies and most importantly my breeds. I do feel I am making a positive contribution over all to the world of rabbits with the ones I produce. Rabbits are relaxing to watch and a form of therapy for me when I play with them. Sure, the time I take when I care for my bunnies could probably spent on more productive things, but I choose to have them as a part of my life, they are my hobby and the joy they bring me outweighs any of the benefits of getting out of rabbits.
I'd like to take a moment to wish those of you who may be contemplating selling out luck with your decision and those who have sold out to remember you can always get back in if at some point in your life you're ready for rabbits to be a part of it again. The rabbit community while ever changing faces is always happy to share their love of rabbits and most importantly welcome new and old friends to the hobby.

6 week old "Tiger," a sport buck who will be staying as a brood sire.

My love, Rupert hogging the camera.

Pumba checking out the Rhinelanders.

Popeye on the far left, 16 weeks old with similar sized 6 week old kits. He's a tiny fellow!

Popeye with his regular sized 16 week old brother

Churro with her jr. buck baby Bounce

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Handsome Elliott

Here are some of the beautiful photos Elliott's momma sent me! Isn't he adorable?

He looks so happy, well cared for, and most importantly LOVED!!
Seeing these pictures reminds me of what wonderful house pets Belgian Hares are. They are in my opinion the best breed out there. :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hareful Photos

Here are a few photos of some current Belginan Hares in the herd:
Okay they're not hares but the chickens were being photogenic too!

Trixie, she's the oldest hare in my herd at 2 & 1/2, she is from my very first hare litter way back in 2008. She is still lovely, not the best show rabbit although she does have a leg for winning her senior doe class last fall. She is sweet as can be and now lives the luxury of the retired rabbit life.

Imagination's Valentine, this fellow is just a senior now, at 6 months he is maturing nicely and I can't wait to see how he continues to mature over the next few months, he will be Convention bound.

Reuben and Valentine

Imagination's Heart or Corazon is going to be more brood, she is Valentine's sister and has a heavier type that will do better for production then the show table, gotta love that zig-zag molt!

Keep's Bandito Jr. wasn't too interested in posing.

Neither was his sister, Keep's Ariel, she too is more of a brood hare. She has smooth type but her ears lack balance with her body and she is short on the front limb.

This is Imagination's Amor, she has quit the molt going on too! She is much finer in type than Heart and will be more of a show doe, although I still like Cupid and Cherub better than these two gals in terms of showiness.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Selling bunnies as pets.. more rambles on that and a special needs bunny free to a good pet home!

Reuben and "Popeye"

Typically I avoid selling or marketing my rabbits as pets.
Its not that I don't like seeing my rabbits in pet homes. (I just received a bunch of beautiful photos of Elliott, a handsome Belgian Hare buck living the spoiled life in PA with proud momma Kathy - I'll share these photos soon I promise!)
The thing is I have issues with the overly neediness and demanding nature of most pet inquirers or those who aren't interested in paying the prices I set for pet quality rabbits, or the folks who say nothing at all just "I want a bunny as a pet." Selling pets is alot of work, and alot of headache. I know many breeders who simply do not sell pets. For a while I contemplated eliminating pet sales also, but seeing updates from wonderful bunny parents like Elliott's mom prevents me from cutting the practice out entirely.
I am selective about what I sell as a pet. The majority of my Rhinelander charlies and sports are culled for meat. They are humanely dispatched and put to a good use. On the rare exception that a charlie or sport has phenomenal type it is kept for my breeding program or sold as a brood animal to another exhibitor. On occassion if I receive a request for a pet charlie/sport I will do my best to match the potential buyer with what they're looking for. More often Rhinelander mismarks, rabbits that are marked but have DQs for show are the bunnies I will offer to pet homes. I also will only sell rabbits with excellent temperaments as pets, being that both breeds I raise are large, having good attitudes and friendly dispositions is critical for sucess.
I dislike selling hares as pets simply because it does nothing for breed promotion when I sell hares to pet homes. While most who are looking for pet Belgian hares are truly the best rabbit owners I've encountered I am extremely selective about who gets a pet hare.. My hares are very important and I want them only in the best homes where they will be well cared for and appreciated.
By limiting pet sales and culling for meat I do my best to not flood the pet market and not displace homes for rabbits in rescues/shelters. With that said if a qualified, rabbit savy individual or family contacts me wanting to buy a rabbit I will do my best to provide them with what they're looking for in a companion rabbit. Rhinelanders and Hares are outgoing, intelligent, athletic, playful, loving breeds of rabbits that make wonderful pets in the right homes.
With that said..
At the moment I have a VERY special bunny who needs a loving pet home. "Popeye" has graced the blog before. He is an almost 4 month old Rhinelander baby buck who tips the scale at 1.5 lbs while his siblings are all about 5 lbs. Popeye was born with several skeletal deformities, while he looks different and will always be small (I anticipate mature weight being under 4lbs.) he is not adversely affected by his deformities. He eats, drinks, plays, sleeps and so forth just like any other bunny. He still lives with his momma Sage whom he adores and who takes very good care of him. He is fully weaned and ready to go to a loving pet home. I cannot say how his condition will affect his lifespan but I will say that despite his condition he is in excellent health now and is vet checked. Radiographs will be done before he goes to his new home to document all of his deformities, at the moment only the palpable ones in his limbs are confirmed. His skeletal deformities that are known are mostly in the joints in the limbs (humerus - elbow joint/femur - acetabulum) he can move as fast as any bunny so it does not slow him down.
His personality is excellent, he has been handled extensively. He is free to a good home, he can be housed in a dwarf sized cage since he is so small. For more information or to inquire about him please e-mail me!

Monday, August 2, 2010

19 is the final baby hare count for the season

Well today marks the end of my Belgian Hare breeding season for quite a while.

From 5 litters total there are 19 baby hares, 5 older juniors who will turn senior this month, 3 12 week old cuties who are very promising, 2 toddlers from my GC doe, and 3 new babies for Gem and 6 for Emmer born yesterday and today respectively!

All in all its been quite the baby boom around here. Now its time to start seriously pose training the older babies, and of course continuing to play with them whenever I can.

The youngest batch of hares (out of Gem only - Emmer's babies will not be for sale) will probably not attend convention this fall as they will be quite young, (just over 13 weeks of age) unless an order/reservation is made ahead of time... more details on Convention reservations will be posted towards the end of August.

Now its time to kick start my Rhinelander program..