Sunday, November 27, 2011

A belated Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm late but I'd like to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!



I am so thankful for my wonderful family, friends, farm and for the work I get to do everyday.



Here's a few late fall photos to enjoy.



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This is a young senior buck I took to ARBA Convention to sell, since he didn't sell there he is now for sale locally. He is a brood buck out of Tiger and Pumpkin, light on markings but nice color balance and type. He is showable. $35.00 w/ pedigree


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Here's a junior buck that is dark in color also for sale. He is the brother to my 8th out of 32 junior buck. This guy is showable but I would consider brood due to light markings and darker color. $35.00 w/ pedigree

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Here's one of my sassy hens! She really loves the camera.

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I've finally made up my mind and this beautiful black and white June 2011 doeling Mascara is officially for sale. She is AGS/ADGA registered and comes from a CAE/CL/TB/Brucellosis negative herd. She is extremely friendly and dainty and wound make a great addition to any herd. Her dam Caddy has not been regularly milked so I don't have much to say about her udder. She is $300.00 OBO


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Athena is always smiling, she loves being the matriarch of the doe herd.


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This is Latte, one of Athena's twin doelings from this July, she is getting big!


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And this is Spice, the other twin doeling of Athena's. Both are such beautiful little gals.


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This is an up close shot of Mascara's twin brother Little Dude!


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Little Dude just adores his uncle Banjo.


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Here are a few of the young bucklings, most of these fellows will be getting neutered soon to become wethers.


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Little Dude and Gigantor in this photo!


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Gigantor is looking so grown up these days, check out his little beard.


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Fiddle is doing well, he is such a loving goat, always looking for attention and petting.


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Little Dude again, he is growing up!


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And this is why it is so hard to get good photos of the rabbits - the cats are always interrupting me wanting attention!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Getting in the Swing of Winter

The weather on the farm at the moment doesn't quite want to make up its mind as to if its winter or late fall, we had two nights of a good freeze and then today it nearly hit 70!



I disconnected the autowatering system for the rabbits temporarily on the frozen nights and then reconnected it, hopefully to get one more solid week of its use before it is permanently disconnected for the season. (I'm hoping it can be reconnected by the end of March/early April... so I only have about 3 solid months of hand watering a year)



I've cut my rabbit numbers way back for the winter to make my life easier and will try to breed in later winter with one litter exception thats due in early December so the babies are weaned closer to when the autowatering system is reconnected. Of my 32 holes only 24 holes are occupied at the moment - this number will be decreased to 16 by the end of the next two weeks, I haven't had that few production rabbits in a very long time!


I am keeping a small number of Rhinelanders - originally I planned to get out of them entirely at ARBA Convention but have decided to hang onto a few, I have a few blue variety carriers and would like to work on developing the blues a bit more now that they are recognized and I will keep breeding some pure blacks too. After thinking hard about it there just aren't enough Rhinelander breeders in this part of the southeast and I want to do my best to keep bloodlines open and hopefully help the breed thrive/grow. While my focus has shifted to meat production rabbits I'll keep a handful of Rhinelanders in the barn for now too.

I'm currently expirementing with learning how to tan/preserve rabbit hides in an effort to utilize as much of the animal as possible when I process rabbits for meat. Not too long ago when I had more free time I was very into sewing, knitting, etc. One of the hobbies I enjoyed most was teddy bear/stuffed animal making. Rabbit hides make excellent stuffed animal furs and I'm really excited to get out some of my old patterns and give it a whirl with my finished skins, I got inspired at ARBA Convention by the beautiful products crafters had made with rabbit furs.



In other winter farm news heated buckets have been pulled out of storage for the goats and pigs, I'm going to be purchasing two more heated buckets since my goat numbers are much higher than they were last winter to ensure there will be plenty of unfrozen water for every animal.



While I'm not looking forward to the colder months ahead I feel pretty prepared for whatever winter may bring this year.



I don't have a bunch of new photos to share at the moment, my work schedule as always is pretty hectic but if I'm lucky I'll do my best to get some more new photos posted here soon.





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Here's Goblin on the left and Ghost on the right the two kittens I kept from my spring batch of bottle babies. These two cats are some of the most bonded siblings I have ever seen, they do everything together. They are both excellent mousers and Goblin particularly has brought me some enormous critters including a HUGE field rat! They're about 7-8 months old now and sweet as can be, they purr all the time and love to hop into laps for a cuddle session.


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And here's a bunch of my goats lounging around. A real family affair, Dixie on the left standing with her two daughers Chime and Dudette, then Caddy on the right with her daugher Mascara and son Oreo.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Planning for the future


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The new year is inching closer and closer and as it does with colder weather settling in my thoughts wander into farm plans for 2012.


2011 was a big year on the farm, several exciting projects were started or completed. The new rabbit barn was built, and while the format works really well overall, as it gets winterized during these next few weeks we'll be making some changes, the cages are going to be removed from the mounting racks, raised about 6 inches higher and hung to eliminate the need for an extra wire protection under the cages to keep nosey dogs from going after bunny feet and prevent any more waste from being trapped between the floor wire and the extra wire protection along with getting rid of the wood mounting which traps urine and other yuck. All in all though eliminating stacking trays and using a pressurized auto watering system when its above freezing has saved me so much time on rabbit upkeep it is just incredible. I absolutely love my rabbit barn and I think with these last few tweaks this November it will be just about as perfect as I can get it.


Along with the new bunny barn the old bunny barn was converted into a functional dog kennel which is a lifesaver with a multi bully breed home. The kennel is fully airconditioned and heated, each dog has plenty of indoor and outdoor space to play in and most importantly the kennels keep them separated and safe when I'm not around to supervise them.


The goat paddock was split this year to make a buck/doe section, a new doe barn was built and the wooded portions of each side of their paddocks was expanded, all of which makes for happy goats. A new hay/storage barn was also built for the goats which makes feeding much less of a chore with the hay stored so much closer to the goats.



Despite all of these great expansions there is still much to do on the farm and I'm making a list at the moment of the most essential projects I'd like to get completed. First on my list is a large land clearing project. As much as I'd like to do all the clearing on the property as naturally as possible, with what I want to do with the land I'm going to have to do machine work to clear about 10 acres or so in early 2012. The newly cleared land will serve many purposes; hay field, more pasture space for the goats and the pot belly pigs, future orchard/vegetable garden plots, new dog yards including an agility field - ideally I'd like to have a pretty nicely sized yard for each dog with a dog house for them to stay out in on nice days as opposed to the kennels which are still spacious for confinement purposes.


The land clearing will undoubtly cost alot of money, but thankfully some of the lumber will be sold to help defray a portion of the cost. This project will also be in stages as after the land is cut the soil will need to be worked before anything can be grown on it.


Along with this massive clearing project I'm planning there are a few smaller projects such as a new kidding barn and pen in the doe paddock for the goats. I have a bunch more ideas but of course with the expense of the clearing project most of the other ones will be put on the back burner til its completed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Creme D'Argent Additions and Farm Life

I've been home from ARBA Convention for a few days now and am slowly getting back into the swing of things with balancing work and farm chores.


I gave my new pair of Creme D'Argents a few days to settle in before I took them out of their new digs to take photos of them. They initially were slow to eat pellets but were devouring hay, they haven't figured out my auto watering system but since its almost time to winterize and the auto watering system will be cut off in favor of water bottles and crocks its okay they haven't learned to use the valves, I'm providing them with crocks for now.


Both Cremes are big, docile, super soft bunnies, I just adore them!


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Here they are out on the Rhinelander's running board for the very first time.


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I've never had a commercial breed before, the closest in body shape I've had before would be my English Angoras from several years ago which are compact in type. Its going to take some education to learn how to type/pose these cuties.


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The doe is named Fog and she is on the left and the buck I named Quizno, he is on the right.


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This is Timber Wind Acres Quizno, he was the 2nd place buck in his class and is a brother from a younger litter to the BOB ARBA Convention 2011 winning Creme. I can't thank Mark enough for this sweet, handsome buck! (Excuse his pose - I am still learning how its done!)


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This pretty doe is MapleLeaf's Fig, she is so curious and playful, she likes to boing her slinky around in her cage. Thank you so much to the Bentons for this beautiful doe, we love her!


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I thought it would be fun to take a photo of one of my Rhinelanders with my new Cremes to represent both breeds in the barn at the moment!


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This was my top placing rabbit of the bunnies I entered at Convention this year. 11 week old Imagination's Derby took 8th place in a deep class of 32 junior bucks. I was so proud of him!


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He is just a little baby with a soft little baby coat but I expect he will mature very nicely over the coming months. Even as such a young junior he really has excellent table presence and just loves to run.


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The other farm critters seem very happy that their mother has returned to look after and play with them. I really missed all of the animals but the dogs and pigs were especially missed. Timon, my baby pot belly piglet has grown so much!


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My goats even seemed excited that I had returned, they were right at the gates every time I walked by, "bahhhhing."


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A few goats saying hello as I do farm chores.


With the goat bucks in rut its time for me to get the does bred for spring goat kids, I'm really excited for my first myotonic (fainting) kids from Ribbon and Dandy. Even though the dead of winter is rapidly approaching, the thought of cute baby goat kids in the spring will absolutely keep me warm at heart as the weather gets colder!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Judging at ARBA Convention

Judging this year at Convention started a day earlier than usual, this year it started bright and early at 8 am on Sunday morning.


One of the more frustrating aspects of judging day is the table line up. Breeds with very large classes of rabbits such as the more popular breeds such as Mini Rex, Holland Lops, Netherland Dwarfs and so forth usually are first up so the judges can get classes of well over 100 rabbits examined. Its is a long and tedious process for the honerable judge, some breeds with large amounts of entries will have two or more judges in order to expediate the process.


My bunny friend and I were told that Jersey Woolies, the breed she raises were one of the breeds up at 8 am, so we rose bright and early to get to the showroom on time so she could do some last minute grooming and be ready to run her rabbits and watch the judging. I didn't know when Rhinelanders were going up but was under the impression that they would be judged mid-day so I was able to kill time by doing some last minute grooming on some of my Rhinelanders.


Unforunately the host club did not arrange for table space for woolies which was a big mistake as the breed has a large amount of entries. It was very frustrating to have to wait for table space for the breeds and both breeds didn't get started til around 3 pm.


Caleb Thomas was the judge for Rhinelanderes this year, I volunteered to assist with writing comment cards for the youth entry and really enjoyed watching Caleb judge the bunnies. The youth had a truly outstanding group of Rhinelanders on the table, they should all be very proud of their beautiful animals!


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The above photo is in the youth showroom, what a great crowd of people watching the judging!


Caleb was an excellent judge! He took his time to look over each rabbit thoroughly, he gave each rabbit even the lower placing bunnies detailed comments that I did my best to write down on the comment cards in case the youth were not present to watch the judging.


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These were the top 4 rabbits in the youth show, all 4 were gorgeous animals that truly represented the written standard for the Rhinelander breed!


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This was a very handsome and flashy junior that really had amazing table presence.


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This was the BOS winner in youth, congrats!


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And this was the BOB winner! Congrats!


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After youth judging wrapped up it was time to venture over to the open showroom to start judging the 97 Rhinelanders entered. At first there was some table confusion with the American Chinchilla folks but it was sorted out after a short delay. The open Rhinelander classes were deep and the quality was impressive overall. Here are some open exhibitors with a large class of senior bucks on the table in front.


For the open show I ended up doing both the writing for the comment cards and the control sheet. Its very difficult to this job alone and I did my best to still make the comment cards detailed while not falling too far behind Caleb as he judged the classes.
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Caleb checks over each bunny to make sure they're the right sex and have no obvious DQ's, Rhinelanders are a breed that do not DQ for a rabbit having one or more colored toenails.


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Caleb lets a junior Rhinelander try the table out


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Some of the bunnies waiting in the show coops to be judged.


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Rhinelanders are fast and curious, its always fun to watch them strut their stuff on the table.


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Go bunny, go!!!


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The best way to evaluate Rhinelanders is to let them run and to stand away from the table like Caleb is doing to evaluate how they track and how they carry themselves.


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And finally at around 10 pm at night after a very long day for all the Rhinelander folks the judge picks his winner, BOS winner Evelyn Cunningham with her jr. buck


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And BOB winner Evelyn Halsey with her jr. doe


Congratulations to all the exhibitors on their placements and wins! I was very impressed with the quality of the Rhinelanders on the table and had a great time writing even if I was exhausted by the end. A huge thank you to Caleb for doing such a great job judging our bunnies!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Traveling and Attending ARBA Convention

If you've never attended an ARBA Convention before it can be difficult to understand the concept of over 22,000 rabbits being kept in one place for a week and the unbelievable amount of work that goes into the show from the club hosting and from the attendees.


This year I drove to Convention with a fellow bunny breeder. Since I entered 20 rabbits it made the most sense to bring along a trailer to haul the bunnies so the car could be filled with human necesseties and that way on such a long trip (about 13 hours one way) the car doesn't get filled with the noxious ammonia fumes of multiple bunnies in a small enclosed space.


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I had my trailer custom designed to accomodate my bunnies, 16 holes we mounted on the inside of a vented enclosed trailer with carrier space on the floor for additional bunnies. There was plenty of space for extra supplies such as hay, feed, water, and so forth eliminating the need to buy anything extra at the show.


Traveling with bunnies on such a long trip is taxing on both the bunnies and the humans doing the driving. Rabbits do tend to stress while in motion on the road and generally will not eat or drink. Thankfully bunnies tend to recover quickly from travel and will eat/drink once the motion has stopped.


All of my bunnies along with my travel buddy's bunnies took the trip up and back pretty well considering the long hours they were in carriers/travel coops.


Once you get to the showroom the madness of unloading begins. In our case we were lucky to arrive on Friday morning when the showroom was fairly empty and close parking spaces could be found. The first stop is the information table/check in area where entry packets are picked up and any last minute ear number substitions can be made. After that all the bunnies are taken via carrier to their assigned coop in their breed aisle. The showroom does provide food and water cups although many breeders elect to use their own from home. I brought along alot of hay to help keep the bunnies' GI systems in good shape and stuffed each of my rabbits coops with lots of hay along with filling up their food and water cups. After every bunny had been unloaded the cage doors are zip tied close to help prevent the rabbit from being harassed too much by strangers and deter theft. Each day the zip tie is clipped and replaced during feeding/watering.


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Here I am in the Rhinelander aisle with a few of my bunnies behind me. You can see the soup cans used for feed/water and the hay in their pens.


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In this photo of a few of my junior bucks you can see I also use paper plates with mini peds/info on them to help advertise them and identify them from the whole row of Rhinelanders to make finding your bunny in the sea of bunnies easier when it comes time to feed and water.


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Here's an up close of Sage one of my Rhinelanders in her coop, the coops are much smaller then normal sized cages - my Rhinelanders all live in 36x30 or 48x30 holes at home so my bunnies tend to get annoyed at the lack of space, luckily they're only cooped for a week.


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This is Glory my blue Rhinelander doe in her coop.


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Rhinelanders were cooped next to Americans and Creme D'Argents. I just adore Cremes and ended up bringing a lovely breeding pair home to hopefully expand my meat rabbit project I'm venturing into. Cremes are such docile and lovely bunnies, I'm really looking forward to having them here on the farm.


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Harlequins were also close by the Rhinelander aisle. I was really impressed with the Harlequins I saw at Convention, alot of them were really nicely marked which is something I can sincerely appreciate as a fellow marked rabbit breeder.


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Here's another pretty Creme doe stretched out in her cage. Alot of breeders brought along wire risers to raise their bunnies above their waste inside their coops. I didn't bother with my Rhinelanders but for breeds unused to solid floors, wooled breeds or those that make large messes the wire floor risers can be a lifesaver.



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This pretty bunny is a blue eyed white Beveren. Beverns are another large meat breed I enjoy seeing at shows. Maybe one day these guys will join the farm too!


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Presentation rabbits are those breeds/varieties that are seeking acceptance into the standard of perfection. The presenters who work on these breeds have to go through an involved process in order to get their animals accepted. All of the presentation animals are cooped together at Convention and its always fun to see what folks are working on. This cute bunny is a Champage Netherland Dwarf.


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This is another presentation rabbit an orange Jersey Wooly, unfortunately this variety failed on their presentation this year.


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This alert bunny is a blue Rhinelander presented by Lorena Ferchaud in California. This variety was accepted by the standards comittee and since it was their final presentation they are an official variety by the publication of the next DR!


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An adorable Chinchilla Dutch, another presentation rabbit was hard at work chewing on its feed coop. Silly bunny!


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And this is a cute broken otter I believe American Fuzzy Lop!


My next post will talk about judging at ARBA Convention!