Friday, December 31, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The above video features "Charlie" a just about 6 month old Rhinelander charlie showing off his rabbit hopping skills, this video is of his very first training session FYI.
Rabbit hopping is similar to dog agility, some of the differences include most courses are in a straight line and the rabbits are usually on harnesses/leashes.
I've always been fascinated by the rabbit hopping phenomenom. In Europe rabbit hopping is very popular and there are some really incredibly skilled bunnies and handlers.
Stateside rabbit hopping hasn't picked up in quite the same manner but at ARBA Convention this year there were a bunch of youth doing a demonstration with their talented bunnies. I've been meddling with training a few of my Rhinelanders for a while. Rhinelanders are naturally suited for the sport, they are a running breed so training them to run down the course isn't needed, its genetic. Getting them to hop over the jumps is a breeze, most will do it with little encouragement and they are very athletic so they can go over long/high jumps with ease.
The 4H kids make jumps out of oatmeal boxes, a wonderful rabbitry came up with the design and has instructions here:
Rabbit hopping is fun for adults and kids, its a great way to bond with your bunnies, give your bunnies exercise and for me its another way to just enjoy having rabbits.
If you're wondering how to get started the best advice I can share is to buy/make a harness and let your rabbit walk around in it with a leash attached. Once your rabbit is comfortable in his or her harness then start by having your rabbit hop over dowels on the ground and slowly raise the height of the jumps. Bunnies are smart and catch on quickly.
Obviously I think Rhineladers make great hopping choices but any breed can learn although I do think watching an English Lop attempt a jump might be a sight to be seen.. Your bunny should be confident and free from any joint issues. Serious training shouldn't take place til the bunny is full grown to prevent injuries, so Charlie in my video above will only be doing small jumps til he's a bit bigger. I'll be posting his progress along with the other bunnies I'm working with. Due to the fine boned nature of my Belgian Hares I don't think this is an activity I will be partaking in with them, I have a horrible vision of broken limbs in my mind..
Friday, December 17, 2010
- Big changes are in store for the rabbitry. First and foremost I plan to re-do the whole living arrangement. All rabbits will be converted to hanging cages and an automatic watering system, this will save me considerable time with everyday maintenance. I hope to start this project once the coldest part of winter is over.
- I will make a final decision regarding keeping or selling the Belgian Hares that I have held over. I really want to shift my rabbit focus on production for meat. I get a good number of culls from my Rhinelanders but they don't have the best dress out ratio. I'm seriously researching breeds and have settled on American Sables or Creme d'Argents, both are rare breeds with excellent commercial type. I'm also considering adding a pair of Satin Angoras for fiber and meat. I'm not sure what to do with the hares I have left, a few are absolutely pets and will never leave but I don't know if I can part with the last of my breeding stock. I'm sure I'll be blogging more about this in the future!
- I will be buying a herd buck for my Nigerian Dwarf does. I've been doing my research and am starting to plan a good site for a buck barn/paddock. This means that if all goes as planned kiddings will resume in the fall of 2o11!
- I'm going to seriously start clearing out some of my 18 acres of woods for more pasture/garden space. I will be doing this by running the goat wethers through small electric fenced pens, moving the pens as they clear out the space. I will then send Pumba the pig through to root/till the soil. Mature trees will be harvested on as needed basis. I may need to get a seond pig to make this project move faster.. anyone interested in some pasture raised bacon? (I'm thinking farm pig...)
- Plant a real garden/more pots on the deck! I also need to overhaul the backyard and the flower/garden beds. Pumba really did a number on the yard before his permanent pig pen was built so I'm going to need to seed the lawn and edge the beds.
Those are just a few of the many projects I have in mind. I'm going to be very busy and fitting these projects in will be a challenge. I have not officially decided if I'm taking next semester off from college or not. I'm going to be working alot for the begining of the year so I don't know if its worth stressing out about class, work and the farm.. luckily tuition is not due til the 24th of January (thank you GMU) so I have lots of time to make that decision.
I hope everyone is having a nice Holiday season and I'd love to hear your plans for 2011. I know that all my goals for 2010 certainly weren't accomplished but I don't feel like I failed in anyway, life is a journey after all - its really not the destination.. :)
Monday, December 13, 2010
Here's a view from the front door to the barn, there's two bunks on the left side and one bunk on the right and a full lower platform across the back. Most of the goats try to sleep on the top bunk on the left!
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
I knew from the start being the only buck in a litter of 7 that he was destined for big things. He was an adorable baby and has matured into a handsome, correct representative of the Belgian Hare breed.
I am thrilled that he has taken top honor and look on from a distance with extreme pride.
Way to go Susan and Valentine! :)