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Friday, December 28, 2012

Rabbitry Goals 2012- Revisited

Here they are- the Rabbitry Goals I set right around a year ago.  Let's see how I did this year!

Let's see- Rabbitry goals for 2012.

Keep the herd to no more than 35 animals. I have happily cut down on the size of the herd this year and I'm liking the smaller numbers.  I don't want to go above 35 animals (although that number may fluctuate as litters are born).  This one is accomplished! I even sold some extra stackers and loose cages so I wouldn't be tempted.
 
Take a BIS.  I finally got my Reserve in Show.  I want to bump it up a notch and take a Best in Show in 2012. I feel like I have several animals that are deserving of that honor, it just all depends on what they look like on any given show day.  Fingers crossed.  Sigh.  No matter how ready you feel you or your animals are, you just can't predict what you will show against on any given day.  I've had some looks, but that elusive BIS is still just out of reach.  Fail.

Keep the website updated. For this one to work, first I need to get the website updated.  It's my goal to get new pictures of the rabbits up and keep them updated in 2012.   Fail.  Actually this one is almost a tie if I cheat a little.  I moved the website here to the blog to help with keeping it updated, but still failed to get pictures of pretty much any of my rabbits.  Fail.

Take a Top 5 in Sweepstakes Points.  This goal is going to be more difficult.  I was so close in 2011 but close doesn't count. I'm hopeful, but at the end of the day, this is probably the least important of my goals.   Yet another Fail.  I actually skipped a few shows this past year and while I still placed Top 10 in Sweepstakes points (I was 9th), I didn't make that Top 5 and I didn't remain as close as I was last year.  Oh well!

"I think rabbitry goals are important.  Every year I sit down and think of where I have come from and where I am going.  I was blessed this year to cross off everything on my list.  It was a big year for rabbits and for me- I sent two rabbits overseas, took a class and opposite of group at Convention, won a BRIS with a homebred wooly, placed 6th in Sweeps and worked through a terrible tragedy, including the loss of my beloved Tryon.  I hope that 2012 brings more joy and bigger accomplishments."

So there we have it. I mostly failed my Rabbitry goals for 2012!  That's ok though.  This year I skipped Convention- and by skipping it, rediscovered the excitement and love I have for the "Big" shows. I can't wait to get out there next year.   I am in a better place with the rabbits- I still miss Tryon and the others we lost, but that is always going to be there.  The important thing is I can enter the rabbitry and not be surprised when he isn't there.  Never mind that his cage is still open- someday a bunny will fill it.  I'm the most excited about my newest generation- the juniors and barely-seniors who will be replacing several retirees on the show tables and in the breeding program.  I haven't been this excited about a generation in years- I can't wait to see what 2013 brings.

-Kristen

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hubba Hubba!

I was checking out my freshly weaned little bucklings today and I managed to sweet talk Tim in to taking (or helping me take) a few pictures. Meet the two newest bucks in the barn!


Keep's - Shaded Jr. Buck
This guy is 8 weeks old.  I am very excited to watch him grow,
he is showing all the signs of being herd buck quality.  He is a
grandson of my BOSG Convention doe.
 
Keep's - Shaded Jr Buck
He is the full brother to the buck listed above and they are very close in type. It is going to be a hard choice between these little guys.


-Kristen

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Baby update!

We've had a mini baby boom around here!

Keep's Indiana started the ball rolling yesterday with her litter of five by Keep's Panda!  Yep, five 12-12-12 babies born!  I checked them again today, she had three brokens and two solids. Unfortunately, two of the brokens have no color in their whisker beds, which makes them unshowable.  The third has a large patch on one side, but it also is very small- at the best it is a runt and at the worst, it is a peanut. 

Keep's Fiona was caught making her nest this morning when I went out to check on her before work.  She stopped what she was doing and stared at me, a hunk of wool hanging from her mouth.  I swear she would have whistled innocently if she could have.  She didn't move until I left, goofy girl does not want to be seen preparing for her babies.

I asked Tim to go out and check on her around lunch time and he found that she had kindled two healthy shaded babies with Keep's Bump It Up.   While checking on her, he noticed that Keep's Puzzle was in labor!  She ultimately kindled one healthy baby, one DOA and one poor little malformed creature.  It was from an outcross breeding, but nothing like this has popped up in any of his previous litters- or in hers.  It was an oddity for sure.  Her healthy baby is living with Fiona's pair.

I finally bit the bullet and stuck a hand in the Florida White cage.  She slammed her head in to my palm, but let me pet her head.  I'm not sure she knows what she wants to do, she acts as if she wants to tear me up, then refuses the opportunity to do so.

We have five LARGE fat and happy Florida White babies.  They are adorable, even if they are all plain white.

Keep's Rumor Has It's peanut passed away, leaving her with two broken babies, also out of Keep's Panda.  These are perfectly marked.  One is a tort (possibly a blue tort) while the other is... well I am not sure.  It looks like a broken black right now, but it could easily be a broken chestnut.  It can be hard to ID colors on very young babies, especially when you are just taking quick looks in cold weather!

-Kristen

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Babies!

Keep's Rumor Has It- (chestnut wooly doe) kindled three babies today! Unfortunately the REW is a peanut, but she did have two beautifully marked brokens.

Sky's Lillith (formerly "Torn Ear") also kindled today- I believe there are six fat little squirmy babies in the box.  Lillith is a little on edge as this is her first litter, so I resisted the urge to pull all the babies out and get a more accurate count.

I am thrilled to have babies again and even more happy that the Florida White project is off to a good start! The top babies from this litter will be for sale in an attempt to get more folks interested in the breed here in North Carolina, the rest will be processed.    It is possible that the top doe from the litter will stay on so that we can track her growth rate and eventually send her on to Haiti as a proven producer herself.

-Kristen

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Florida White Update and Slight Blog Change

Well it looks like Tim's Florida Whites are about to take off!

Sky's "Torn Ear" (he needs to name these creatures) is nesting like crazy!  She is due on Friday along with Keep's Rumor Has It, a chestnut wooly doe.

Sky's "Other Doe" finally allowed herself to be bred by Sky's "Buck" (I told you he needs to name them!) so we should be having another litter three weeks

I am  making a slight change to the blog.  I don't typically tag each post, but I am making an exception.  All Florida White updates will be found under the tag "Haiti" for ease of keeping up with the project. 

The Florida Whites are enjoying their attempt at transition to more natural foods.  Unfortunately we're heading in to winter, so while I am collecting what I can, we aren't going to be able to do a total switch over this year, though I do plan on supplementing with apples, sweet potatoes, etc. throughout the cold weather. 

Once Spring comes, I'm planning on hitting the conversion harder and focusing more on foods that will be found in Haiti.

-Kristen

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Warm Weather

It's December 1st and here in my little corner of North Carolina, the temperature is aiming for the mid-60s.

I love it.

I am planning on getting the last few does bred while we have nice weather. Hopefully the second Florida White doe will finally breed.  The first one was easy, but the second one does not care to have babies. 

While outside, I'll be trying to gather up more pinecones for Christmas treats for the bunnies.  They are toy and munchies all in one- plus they are free! Can't beat free. 

I had briefly entertained the thought of trying to get pictures of some of the juniors, but Tim just informed me he "doesn't want to do anything, ever" today.  Guess I probably shouldn't ask about his help getting pictures.  Sigh.

Everyone is doing great- the next litters aren't expected until December, so it's quiet around here.  I don't have any shows coming up soon either, so I guess we're just in a holding pattern.  Sometimes it's nice to have that break.

-Kristen

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Surprise Babies

It's been quite an exciting week around here.

Taking advantage of a rare 60+ degree day, Tim set about dumping trays while I took over feeding and watering duties for the rabbits.

I noticed Epiphany, the only rabbit with young babies, has been camping out in her nestbox.  E gave me quite a bit of trouble kindling.  Her first baby was born while Tim was outside dumping trays on a different occasion.  He was able to make a nest for the baby and keep it warm until I got home.  That night, I found a second baby wedged between the box and the urine guards.  It was extremely chilled, but I was able to warm it up.  The next day, both babies looked great.

Anyway, E had been camping out in her nestbox and I was worried that she had been eating the hay as well, since her food dish had been licked cleaned for the past week.  I feed Miss Piggy and then pull out her box to rearrange the hay a bit and check on the two babies.  I caught a sight of white fur and I was disappointed. I had thought the second baby wasn't a pointed, but clearly I was wrong.

Imagine my greater surprise when I poke a finger in to the nest and find more than two wiggly bodies!

Muttering to E, I clear a place for her nestbox on my grooming table and start peeking in through the wool- one, two, three, four, five!

Apparently E. had dealt with a rough labor and ended up kindling more than a day apart between the first baby and the last.  It has been very cold here, so I hadn't checked the box again since the morning after the first two were born.

This explains why she's been such a pig around feeding time.

I am happy to report she has three shaded babies and two pointeds, all looking great.  If she hadn't been sitting in the nest, what a real surprise I'd have had when those five started leaving their nestboxes!

-Kristen

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I'm Thankful

There are a lot of things to be Thankful for this year-

I'm thankful to have a husband that shares my interests in the rabbits and is willing to give up his Saturdays to go sit at shows with me.   I'm thankful he waters while I feed and he helps clean cages- and he is willing to check on the babies and do whatever is necessary to save them.

I'm thankful for my good group of rabbit friends.  The ones that assure me my rabbits don't suck after bad shows, who travel with me to far away shows and who put up with my grumpiness or non-stop chatter.  I'm thankful for the friends I see once or twice a year, but can pick up on a 6 month old conversation like we saw each other a week ago.

I'm thankful for the bunnies.  I'm thankful for the ones that see me and binky in their cages, or stick their noses out for kisses.  I'm thankful for the ones that go off feed when I'm not home, because it means they love me and miss me.  I'm thankful for the ones that don't want to be petted or loved on, but take excellent care of their babies or strut their fluff on the show tables.

I'm thankful I didn't sell out a year and a half ago when I started to.

I'm thankful for everyone who reads the blog.  Thank you and thank you for letting me know that sometimes these posts make a difference for you.

-Kristen

Monday, November 19, 2012

Outside the Norm

I typically only show in North Carolina and at the National shows.  That isn't to say I've never been elsewhere- I've gone to Pennsylvania and Ohio, Tennessee and South Carolina for "normal" shows, but we are lucky to have a fair number of shows in North Carolina, so I don't stray too far.

I woke up to a message from Joni one day- she had been talking to Lisa and Sarah (Sarah being one of our youth wooly breeders, Lisa is her mom) and they had decided to head down to Georgia for the Conyers triple- would I be interested in going?

I hemmed and hawed a bit. We would go down Friday and wouldn't come back until Sunday, so I would have to get the day off on Sunday, not to mention make sure I wasn't missing anything I needed to attend here.  In the end, I went with them.
Lovely photo of me writing for Judge Tom Green while Sarah listens for comments on her pointed, Juliet.  Taken by Joni!

We had such a nice time!  The Conyers show was very well run.  I ended up writing for all three Open Wooly shows and two of the Youth shows as well, so I got an up close look at every rabbit put on the table.  There were some lovely animals!

I have several "heart breakers" aka second places.  Poor Panda placed second in two of the three shows, which wasn't bad considering I had found a half dollar sized bald spot on his back as I was grooming him at the show.   I did end up picking up several class and group (or opposite) wins.

The crowning part of the showing-segment of the day was when Keep's Lovesong, my little Agouti junior doe, took BOSB!  My juniors have done really well this show year and quite a few of them are only missing a senior leg to grand out- Lovesong included!

I got to see some friends that don't show as much in North Carolina and I got to meet new folks, which is always the best.  I wish I had had a little more time to sit around and "meet and greet", but writing took up so much of my time.

I sold Keep's Ninja and Keep's Tribal to homes I'm feeling really good about- so I have extra cage space! Thrilling :).

Overall, it was a great weekend.  We had a ball and if I'm a little hoarse and a tad exhausted today, it was totally worth it. 

-Kristen

Monday, November 12, 2012

Keep's Catching Fire

I had an excellent show on Saturday- we had such a huge turnout, 73 woolies in Show A, 76 in Show B with lots of breeders there. It was great!

Rather than give you all my results, I'm going to focus on just one little lady-

Meet Keep's Catching Fire.  She's a siamese sable junior doe.  Her picture kind of gives away my exciting news-  She won Best of Breed in Show A, under a judge that admittedly doesn't choose juniors.  In fact, his words were "Well...you may call me crazy but..."

Catching Fire was completely over being posed in this picture (thank you Joni, for use of your camera!), but I have to tell you, this little lady is beautiful.  Our judge in Show B kept confusing her for being a junior buck.  That's something you always want to hear!

I'm so proud of this little lady, I can't wait for her to turn senior (although believe me when I say that will be bitter sweet) and I sure can't wait to have her babies running around the rabbitry!

-Kristen

Friday, November 9, 2012

Meat Rabbits

The number one question people ask when they find out I have more rabbits than your average pet person is "Do ya eat 'em?" usually accompanied by a leer.  The smirk is quickly wiped off their face when I reply "Sometimes."

For some reason, it seems to be the hobby of some folks, old men especially, to ask that question as if it's outrageous or upsetting- and to some people yes, it is upsetting to think about eating Fluffy Nugget.  I don't understand the slightly sadistic desire to try to upset someone, but whatever.

Rabbits are, first and foremost, livestock.  Yes, they make wonderful pets and companions.  Yes, we show them.  Ultimately, they are livestock and any rabbit, no matter how big or how small can be utilized for meat.  Rabbits can be raised inexpensively and in small areas where you aren't able to keep a flock of chickens or a steer.  They grow quickly and can be prolific.  Rabbit meat is a good, lean meat that can be substituted for chicken in any regular recipe.

Any rabbit can be used as a meat rabbit.  Some are more suited for it- for instance, Californians and New Zealands (or a crossbreed of the two) are some of the most popular and common meat rabbits.  Florida Whites are an excellent choice for those that want a high yield of meat, larger litters and a quick grow rate, but don't have a lot of space for the bigger breeds.   My own Jersey Woolies, though a small "fancy" breed, can be used as meat, though they have a less efficient grow out rate and they are significantly smaller than a "meat breed".

So why talk about rabbits and their dual purpose?

I often get asked why I don't just find pet homes for any rabbit that isn't show or brood quality.   Jersey Woolies require a little more upkeep than your average pet, because of their beautiful wool.  That makes it harder to find suitable homes and good pet homes are already scarce as it is.

A second consideration is- what should I do with rabbits that won't make good pets?  Should I pretend they are sweet and non aggressive? Should I sell a nasty rabbit to a small child, knowing it will bite them, scratch them and make them miserable?  Is that fair to the rabbit or to the new family?  No.   Should I dump "my problem" in the pound every single time I get an unacceptable rabbit? No

The simplest answer is one I've already mentioned.  Rabbits a good, healthy meat.  It tastes delicious and it is an excellent way to homestead.  I know that every rabbit I process is treated well, fed, loved and kept in clean conditions until it is utilized.

-Kristen

The Rabbit Breeders Prayer

"The Rabbit Breeders Prayer"
By William Jerry Ayers

GOD, grant me the gift of great pride when I win, yet make me humble enough to congratulate those who have beaten me.

Please let me always show love and kindness to all my rabbits, be they champions or ones that wouldn't stand a chance in competition.

GOD, make me forever friendly and helpful to my fellow rabbit breeders, as I would like them to be towards me.

Let me answer each rabbit show visitor's question with knowledge and feeling, so that they may know the regard I have for all my rabbits.

GOD, give me safe passage from one show to another, and let the visitors return home with a better understanding and love for rabbits. 

Amen

-Kristen

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tim's Project

There is something new around the rabbitry- a very special trio of rabbits, the like of which have never been seen in the barn before.  Considering the various breeds I've raised, transported or kept as pets over the years, this is impressive.

We now have a trio of Florida Whites here at Keep's Rabbitry.

These bunnies came to us for a very specific purpose.  Last year, Tim went to Cange, Haiti.  He came home full of ideas on how to help the people, but with one particular one that really got him excited- he wanted to take meat bunnies to Haiti.

Our goal is to switch these guys over to a more natural diet, to better help the Haitians.  They don't have Purina feed mills on every corner and we don't want to take food out of their mouths to feed the rabbits.  However, rabbits enjoy things like banana peels- and people don't eat those! There will be other feeds and hay that they will get, of course.  We're going to be testing out what works best to keep the animals healthy and producing.

When the time comes, we will load up carriers full of offspring and head down to Haiti to do a presentation on how to properly care for the animals- breeding, feeding, sexing, culling- the whole 9 yards!  It is our hope that these three rabbits produce a starter herd for the Haitians that helps the people there have enough food to eat and excess to sell. 

It will be interesting to be sure!  I will post periodic updates here on the blog.

-Kristen

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Red Jersey Woolies and other Presentations.

I hate to say it, but Red Jersey Woolies are not presenting today at the ARBA Convention.   They did not pass the breed club inspection due to mismatched toenails on the senior buck.

This is the second fail for reds (they did not present last year), so the variety fails.  They'll try again in a few years.

Otter Mini Satin- Pass (New Variety)
Smoke Pearl MS- Fail (pimple)
Lilac MS- Fail (pimple and broken toe)
Chin Dutch-Fail (brassy)
Blue New Zealand - Fail (white spot)
Red Jersey Wooly- Not presented-Fail (white toenail)
Lilac Havana- Fail
REW Lionhead- Pass
Tort LH- Pass

Black LH- Fail (white spot)
Blue Britannia Petites- Not presented- Fail

Sable Mini Rex- Fail (white spot)
Smoke Pearl MR- Pass (New Variety)

Chocolate Silver Fox-Fail (split penis)
Blue Silver Fox- Pass
Blue MS-Pass
Black MS-Pass (New Variety)
Chocolate MS-Pass (New Variety
)
Broken MS-Fail (no show)
Argente Brun-Fail (no show)
BEW Britannia Petite-Fail
Broken Petite-Pass (New Variety)
Tort Mini Satin-Pass
Silver Marten MS-Pass

Squirrel MS-Fail (toenail)
Blue Point Holland Lop- Fail (broken tail)
Lilac Polish- Fail (mismatched toenail)
Champagne Netherland Dwarf- Fail (no show)

Tort Britannia Petite- Fail (mismatched toenails)
Sable Britannia Petite- Fail (white spot)
Copper Mini Satin- Pass

Black Giant Angora- Fail (No Show)
-Kristen

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jersey Wooly 2012 Convention Results!

A HUGE Congratulations are in order- we have the results of the 2012 Convention for the Jersey Woolies!

Open:

Jessica & Taylor Usakowski took BOB.
Kelsey Shultz took BOSB

In Youth:

Ashley Landis took BOB and BOSB!

Ashley told me just a little while ago that the dad to her BOSB Jr. Doe is Keep's Hot Chocolate! Now I'm definitely going to be joining her on Cloud 9 :).

Congratulations ladies, what a huge accomplishment!

-Kristen

Friday, October 19, 2012

Convention Wishes

I'm not going to Convention this year.  After the stresses of the past two, I made the decision that I needed a break.  It helps a lot that Convention is in Wichita, which is really just too far for me to go- Indianapolis almost killed me!

That isn't to say that now, just a few days before everyone converges for the largest rabbit show in the world, I'm not regretting that I won't be there.  Nevermind the molting rabbits, I'm just really going to miss my friends from the other areas.

I wish I was going.

You know what they say though- if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

So instead, my wish is that everyone who goes has a wonderful time, learns a lot and makes new friends.  I hope that everyone who goes has at least one placement that exceeds their wildest expectations.  I wish that everyone would get there safely and return home safely- and yes, bunnies are included in that!

Go enjoy yourselves folks- and don't forget to post pictures and updates for all of those who are sitting at home, wishing we were with you!

-Kristen

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Proud of my Juniors

It's been a long time since I've been this excited about a generation of babies.  I look at the little bucks and does going in to their uglies and I see the future of Keep's Rabbitry...and the future looks bright.

I went on vacation for a week and when I came home, my teeny little babies are turning in to mini adults.  Nevermind the molt lines and the tangled wool- I can see parts and pieces on these little bunnies that I have been working to get for a long time.

This isn't to say I think any of the rabbits are perfect- there is always room for improvement, but right now, I'm going to bask in the happiness of what I have accomplished to this point.






Now on to breeding the newest "best generation ever"!

-Kristen

Monday, October 1, 2012

Busy Show Weekend

This weekend was incredibly busy.

Friday I headed to Joni's house to spend the weekend.  We were heading to Fairview for the double on Saturday and since we had to be up bright and early, it is just easiest to go to Joni's, since she's so much closer.

We had a great time typing her babies and chatting about shows.  All too early, Saturday morning arrived and we loaded up to head to the mountains!

Show A was INCREDIBLE! We had a judge I've never shown under- Karen from NY.  I was happy to see she had gentle hands with the woolies and wasn't afraid to credit a nice junior!

Keep's Orion (broken black sr. buck) won BOB, while Keep's Lovesong (agouti jr. doe) won BOSB! I was floored!  I'm not sure I can even remember all the BOGs and BOSGs, but several of my juniors earned their first legs.  I was very happy with the results!

The second show, Panda won a BOSG and was looked at hard for BOB.  The judge was one that doesn't choose juniors unless there is really no other option.  Since 6 of my 11 entries were juniors, I didn't do nearly as well in this show.  That's the way the cookie crumbles.

While waiting for BIS, I made new friends! It's so funny how you see someone around shows for years, but never really talk with them.   Then when you finally do, you find a new friend.  I am sure there is a lesson in that somewhere, but I'm too tired to go all philosophical right now.

We returned to Joni's, where her husband treated us to grilled burgers.  Ohhh they were yummy!  Joni & I crashed not long after dinner, knowing we had to be up early on Sunday for the next show.
______

We headed to Winston Salem early the next morning.  Neither of us had ever attended the Dixie Classic show, so we thought "why not."

The first show we had Piper Smith, who I've never shown under before.  I was interested to see her judging style and was just as pleased with her as I was with Karen. I love a judge with soft hands when it comes to touching the animals!

Keep's Panda took BOB!  Joni's adorable little self junior doe (8 weeks old) won BOSB!  Again- I can't remember the BOG and BOSG placements, but I was pleased with the comments on the babies.

In the second show came the biggest surprise of the weekend.

Keep's KPP (shaded jr, buck) took BOB, while Keep's Dove (shaded jr. doe) took BOSB.  If you'd given me 10 guesses and a million dollars I could have never predicted that- especially since both of them are under 4 months old.  I guess the junior buck needs a name sooner rather than later!

Overall it was a fun weekend and I'm glad I got to spend so much time chatting with so many different folks.  Of course, the cumulative 3 BOBs and 2 BOSBs didn't hurt my feelings either!

-Kristen

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Who to breed?

All my does are coming off their R&R breaks.  They've raised their litters, they've had time to recover and be baby free- so now my thoughts are turning to who to breed.

I try not to breed too many at a time- I'll have to prioritize the does (who is hardest to get bred, getting older, the nicest animal, etc).  Are any of the does first timers? If so, I like to pair them with proven does to have the chance of fostering off a litter if the newbie doesn't want to care for her babies.

Type is a big consideration when planning my match-ups- not only do I want to "fix faults", I also want to strengthen existing attributes.  Sometimes it is a toss up between "Do I make this pairing to make the head really big, realizing that both have slightly longer ears, or do I fix the ears, but possibly lose some head mass" (or whatever the case may be).

Lines are also something I like to keep in mind- while I love to line breed, I want to make sure that I don't make my lines too tight.  Remember- line breeding brings out the best AND the worst in your line.

Finally, I consider show schedules.  Do any of the does I want to breed need a granding leg? Is there a big show coming up where I'd really like for one of them to strut her fluff on the table?  How long will the does be unavailable if I breed them now?

There is so much more that goes in to breeding than just putting this rabbit with that rabbit and waiting on babies.  It definitely takes me several days of planning before the bucks ever get to go on dates with the ladies of Keep's Rabbitry.

-Kristen

Monday, September 17, 2012

Show Fun

It was so nice to have a show this past weekend!  The gang was all there- and thankfully we were all on pretty much equal footing as far as super molty animals, hehehe.  We all traded BOB and BOSBs around, with no one person winning more than one BOB or BOSB!

I had a great time- Keep's Bump It Up took BOB in Show A for his granding leg! Three of my shaded junior does finished 1, 2, 3 (of 6) in all three shows, while my two self junior bucks flip flopped first and second in the second two shows.   The little blue buckling also took second in the first show.  He is going to be heading to Florida in a few weeks to live the pampered life of a herd buck.  I'm so excited he did well, it was definitely above and beyond my expectations, considering there were 10+ junior bucks in the class!

Orion, my broken black buck, picked up his second leg, which surprised me since the poor guy had no woolcap!  He showed very well the whole day. It makes me feel a little better considering I just sold his brother, Keep's Zumba.

I got to spend a chunk of time with a new youth exhibitor as well.  She took home Keep's Bee, the mom to the blue buckling mentioned above, to be her first wooly doe.  I am excited for her to start breeding and showing, she's clearly spent a lot of time researching the breed and what to look for.

The show wasn't all fun.  One of my very promising does turned in to a buck- on the table!  She was changed for the next two shows and HE ended up taking a class win and a 2nd.  I guess I can handle that.

The saddest news came in Show B, when the judge pulled me to the side and told me that Keep's Muse had an umbilical hernia.  Translation?  DQ.  She did mention that Muse was the best animal she had felt come across the table, but that doesn't make me feel a lot better- especially since the same thing happened in Show C, when the judges told me she was going to place BOSB until they felt her hernia.   I had left her in because multiple exhibitors were going to be leaving and I didn't want to scratch her and risk causing someone to lose a leg.

The silver lining is that I now know why Muse can't have live litters.  The bad news is I had rebred her the day before.    I guess once this litter is born, I'll find her a nice pet home.  She's a fantastic foster mom, so I am planning on breeding a few girls and hoping they all take.

I moved out several animals, but I brought in a little broken black doe and I purchased a proven black tort doe.  So I only gained one hole once everything was said and done.

I am looking forward to the next show. 

-Kristen

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

In the rabbitry-

As a quick update- I'm devastated to report we lost seven babies recently.  I think I've narrowed it down to either bad feed or bad hay.   Regardless of the cause, the whole barn is dealing with a feed change.

This isn't without it's own problems.  My favorite little doeling is dealing with some stomach troubles probably caused by the new feed.  She's at that tender age of 6 weeks and we've been dealing with her one day at a time.   Luckily, she's been hanging in there for several days (the others all died within 24 hours of first showing a problem, which is why I believe this is caused by a change in feed, not bad feed).

It has been tearing my nerves up to be unable to save my babies.  Even worse, some of these youngsters I had been keeping my eye on as prospects for a few folks who were looking to get started in woolies or else expand their herds.

So, in short, it's been depressing around the barn lately.  Fingers crossed for this little doeling to pull through for me.

-Kristen

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Are Sweepstakes a money game?

I've been thinking about the "Sweeps is all about money or numbers" thing that I've seen a few folks state recently on Facebook.  I just wanted to take a quick moment to say- it can be.  I can recall years ago a mini lop youth mom (out of state) mention they spent $20k a year for her child to stay on top of points.  They would drive 6 hours in one direction on Saturday for a show, then 8 hours in the other direction for a show on Sunday.

The past two years (my first two full years as a NJWRC member), I've been lucky and blessed enough to place Top 10 in our Open Sweeps contest. I consider that a huge accomplishment.  I also tend to show 7-9 woolies or less per show - only the ones I want to show, no "points filler", though sometimes I see what others brought to show, groan and tell the bunny "ohhhh I should have saved my entry fee and left you at home!"  I show pretty much only in my state, but we have a fair number of shows, thankfully.  I try to make it to Nationals and Convention- though often, I can only make one of those, as is the case in 2012.  I don't think we should be tearing down those at the top of the Sweepstakes "race" because they choose to go to more shows than the rest of us, or are lucky enough to have larger barns.  I'm naturally lazy.  I don't LIKE getting up early for shows, so I sometimes skip shows just to enjoy sleeping in.  I don't have a huge herd because I don't want to clean, groom and take care of all of them- not to mention, I can't afford to feed them. Those of you who know me personally know my husband is a preacher. I am currently working PART TIME as a church secretary.  Believe me when I say I can't afford to spend $20k a year to climb the points ladder, yet through hard breeding, hard culling and a sprinkling of luck as to who is in coat on any given day, I'm able to be competitive with the other gorgeous animals put on the table in my area.

I think it's terribly unfair and even hurtful to paint everyone in the Top XX of Sweeps of both Youth and Open as folks who just toss around money to buy their standings.  I had 7 less shows credited to me last year than the year before and placed 4 spots HIGHER, showing the same number of animals.  In the 2009-2010 year, Brian Caudill placed #3 overall with 13 shows.  There are folks who show less than I do that kick my butt and folks who show way more who sometimes I end up beating in points.  Let's not attack people for how they choose to spend their money or their time, or imply somehow they are doing something underhanded, which does seem to be the implication to me.  I would love to see someone with $30,000 to waste put a ton of pet quality animals on every show table every weekend and see if they can end up #1 on our Sweeps list- because I'm thinking that's surely not going to happen.  Does it mean folks who are lower in the sweeps list have inferior woolies? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Don't judge your animals based on if someone else is higher in Sweeps than you are.  Don't buy based only on if someone is higher in Sweeps than you.  Be happy for the people that place higher in Sweeps than you- don't try to drag them down by saying "Oh, I bet you spent more than I make in a year to buy your place."  Not only is that nasty and rude, but it says way more about you than you think it does.

-Kristen

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Gearing up for shows

September marks the return of shows for us here in North Carolina.  We have three in that month alone, after a summer of pretty much no showing opportunities in state (we do have one show in July). 

So, how are the rabbits gearing up for the show season's start?  By molting to the skin of course!  After all, they've only had three months to get this over with, why not wait until mid-August to start the molt?

I'm going to be doing a lot of tattooing over the next few days.  The babies are starting to be weaned from their mothers and I don't want to make a mistake and forget which black baby belongs to who.  I'm also going to have to start coming up with names for all these juniors! I prefer to have a name by the time they hit the show table, though I know some folks who name them at birth and others who don't name them until they breed the rabbits.

I sexed Puzzle's litter- One of the torts, the chestnut and the siamese sable are all does, while the other tort is a buck.  Both my current favorites are little ladies, which thrills me beyond reason.  Bee's little blue is a buck.

I currently only have one doe expecting, but I am not expecting to see a litter out of her.  Everyone else has been on a break or has been raising a litter, but I'll be rebreeding my brood does soon.  I'll have to be careful and make sure I don't breed anyone I want to show, since I don't show my does once they are 2 weeks in to pregnancy. 

-Kristen

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sneaking a Peek

I pulled out some young juniors yesterday and decided to take a "sneak peek" to see what their type looks like at the moment.

I am wow'd by the litter I checked.  It started off beautifully as I marked their ears and wrote down color and sex- I discovered the lone siamese sable in the litter is actually a doe instead of a buck!  Even better, she has been my POL based on head size for a while, I found that her body as of yesterday makes her the overall POL!

I'm actually really thrilled with this whole litter.  I will have two black doelings available at some point in time in the near future, I just have to decide which black doe I'm going to grow out alongside her siamese sable sister.

I made an effort to sex one of Puzzle's babies yesterday- they are still so small, but I think one of her torts is a doe!  I am so happy with all the little girls in the barn, they will be replacing some of the older ladies.

I've been using my REW herd buck more recently, so I think I have finally managed to sneak the REW back in to the herd.  It's been forever since I've had a REW baby born.  That color news coupled with the fact that I do still have some blue hanging around is thrilling!

-Kristen

Monday, July 30, 2012

Growing babies

The babies are growing up! Everyone is out of the nestbox and running around- so far we've had no losses, which makes me so happy.

I haven't done very much breeding in July- I believe I have only two litters due in the month of August.  This is partially because nearly all my does are on litters already. I do have two ladies that will be bred for one last litter and then hopefully sold- it is my goal to breed them, foster the babies and then have them available for sale at the September shows- I may have more does available, depending on how these little junior girls grow up! I'm looking forward to starting a new round of does in production- it has been so long since I have had more than one doeling!

I'm already in love with at least two bucklings.  Thankfully they aren't brothers, but what in the world am I going to do with two more bucks?

Puzzle's litter was split up- half went to her daughter and she has been raising the other half (2 and 2).  I am very happy with my decision to split the group, even though it meant waiting to rebreed Muse and hopefully get a live, non-peanut litter out of her.   The Puzzle kits are too important to me and Muse has been worth her weight in gold as a foster mom.  Her first foster kit, Keep's Rumor Has It, thrived under her care.

I hope others are the same wonderful luck I am (knock on wood, of course).

-Kristen

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Happy Baby Boom!

I'm so happy with the baby boom I've been having lately- everywhere I look are babies.  A preliminary sex check is also showing me I have some doelings- hooray! I can finally start moving out some of the does to make room for the new little ladies.

I've got such a rainbow of colors right now, it's crazy!  Of all the babies 6 weeks old or younger, I have:
3 sable points
4 torts
1 blue
4 blacks
3 siamese sables
1 chestnut
1 sable chinchilla point (agouti sable point who will be petted out because of unshowable color)

Yep, 17 babies right now! I love it.  I am just so excited to see these little guys grow up, a few are looking super adorable right now.  I've identified one little buckling who will be petted out because he's looking a little big.  Of course, he also has the smallest white snip on the very tip of his nose which I would have missed initially had it not been for Tim's sharp eyes picking it out. The sable chinchilla point is looking gorgeous and already has a pet home lined up- that leaves me 15 babies to evaluate in the next few weeks and months!  I'm starting to regret selling so many cages.

-Kristen

Friday, July 20, 2012

More updates on APHIS

Ellyn over at Rabbit Smarties is really doing a great job with reporting on APHIS.

Here is her latest update! It's a must read, as it lets us all know who and what will be affected as of right now- she really breaks it down for all of us.

Ellyn is the creator of the Rabbit Smarties youth study books- they are fantastic.  While you are visiting her blog, please feel free to stop in to her shop and look around.

Here is also a letter from Eric Stewart:

"Dear ARBA members. The ARBA has been actively addressing regulatory concerns that impact our hobby and members. We have received a number of questions and misconceptions regarding the proposed revisions to the USDA’s Animal Welfare Act. This has been reviewed by independent legal counsel then also reinforced through direct correspondence with the USDA. The proposed revisions basically involve two items-

1) Inclusion of internet sales of wholesale pets

2) Increasing the number of breeding female dogs, cats, exotic and wild mammals (rabbits and cavies are not affected) from 3 to 4 before they are included in licensing requirements.

The Animal Welfare Act (AWA), adopted in 1970, has remained largely unchanged for the past 42 years. The overwhelming majority of ARBA members will not be effected at all by the proposed revisions to the AWA.

The ARBA has endorsed recommended care guidelines for rabbits and cavies. This initiative is to protect members and educate animal control officials of reasonable expectations for rabbit and cavy care. Cages sizes mentioned in the formal document are the federally mandated minimum sizes and actually smaller than what most breeders would use. Note that the notation “ft2” is “square feet” when detailing floor dimensions of cages; this is calculated by multiplying the width by the length of the floor. For example, 1.5 square feet would translate to a 12” x 18” cage for rabbits up to 4.4 pounds. 4 square feet would translate to a 24”x24” cage for rabbits between 8.8-11.9 pounds. We are looking into the addition of recommendations for weaned animals remaining together after the doe has been removed. Note that the cage height for rabbits is 14 inches and that is not involved in the floor dimension calculations. The document mentions several options with the term “may” such as the need for resting boards, etc. Clarification is made that rabbits do not require food 24 hours a day. The objective was to offer realistic recommendations to avoid some of the expectations imposed by less educated inspectors/officials.

The ARBA will be meeting with officials in Washington, D.C. in the coming weeks; once the formal dates have been secured notice and updates will be available. If you have specific questions for the USDA we will compile a sampling of questions to include in our meetings. Please send brief, clear questions for the USDA to eric@arba.net or Karen Horn kjhorn@gmail.com for inclusion in the sampling. As time will be limited we can only offer that a sampling of questions will be guaranteed. For further information on the topics mentioned, please go to http://arba.net/news.htm#current July 11th, 2012 for pdf copies of documents containing specific information regarding our USDA teleconference and the ARBA approved Recommended Care Guidelines for Rabbits and Cavies.


All the best,
Eric Stewart
Permission to cross post message granted in its entirety."


-Kristen

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Show and Baby News!


Keep's Tequila Mockingbird (we've gone through several name changes) won a BOB her first show out at the Taylorsville Night Show! I'm so tickled, I like her, but wasn't expecting her to do so well this young.  She turned 12 weeks old the night of the show :).

Keep's Orion, a little broken junior buck, joined his brother Taurus in the "We've got a junior leg" club.

I also won $10 in a drawing the club did for all the show writers.  It was my lucky show!

The good luck continued, when I got home today I found Keep's Puzzle with FIVE happy, fat babies!  These are out of Keep's Poplar, my REW herd buck.  Puzzle is my BOSG- Convention doe, so my fingers are crossed this litter grows up without any troubles!

Keep's Fiona kindled three! This is her largest litter since the Incident- she did have one peanut, but I'm not counting it in the litter count.  The sire to the litter is Keep's Unexpected.

-Kristen

Friday, July 13, 2012

APHIS and USDA news

I could write a long, involved blog about the USDA and APHIS- and how under the Animal Welfare Act, hobby breeders could have to be licensed if they gross more than $500 a year in sales. 

Instead, I'm going to direct you here, to the Rabbit Smarties Blog. Ellyn does an excellent job of explaining not only the Animal Welfare Act, but what ARBA is doing about it!  She also includes information at the bottom on how you can help fight this legislation!

-Kristen

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Even more babies

I was hoping for some Fourth of July babies- After all, I had does due on July 2nd, July 3rd and July 4th!

Nope, it wasn't to be.

However, on July 3rd Keep's Bee gave me six kits by Keep's Poplar.  Her first litter had only two, so I am shocked, but thrilled! It looks like four REWs and two blacks, but I do my best not to count my chickens early, there have been some wild color swings over the years here.

I am hoping there are some doelings in all the litters around.  I'm still waiting on Keep's Sunset, Heartbreaker and Epiphany to kindle.  Then in another week and a half we have another round due!

I may do some breedings tonight.  Keep's Muse just weaned her foster baby a few days ago and I'm eager to send her on a date with one of the boys!

-Kristen

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dealing with the Heat Wave

It's hot here in the South- it's hot all over the country right now.  In my little corner of North Carolina, we hit 104 yesterday.  Yeah.

My barn has had many modifications made since last year.  I put in a quality insulation, I reduced the number of rabbits and cages I maintain.  I also have the better AC and I blocked my windows to keep the sun from shining in and heating up the barn.

Some people don't have AC. So what can you do to help keep your rabbits cool?

Fresh, cool water.  They can't be without water in this heat.  Make sure it's fresh and cool.  You can even put ice in the bottles for longer relief.  I bought a little tube-shaped ice maker- you fill it up with water, stick it in the freezer and you get 24 round sticks of ice that fit perfectly in the bottles.  That really helps cool off the bottles.

Frozen Tiles/Frozen water bottles.  If you have the space, I like to keep one set of water bottles freezing and one set of frozen ceramic tiles at any point in time.  The tiles take up less space, so they are great for those with little freezer room. It gives the rabbits something to lay on or near to cool off and some even lick the frozen items.

Frozen Banana/Carrot.  These frozen treats help cool them down and put moisture in to the bunnies.  It can get so hot they don't want to drink, but they love their treats! I freeze the bananas whole then cut an inch hunk out of them, peel and all.  (Yes, this was a tidbit I submitted to the  NJWRC newsletter, so it may sound familiar). 

Spray them with a hose.  This will make their wool or fur kinky.  What's worse- extra grooming or dead bunnies?  That's what I thought.  Don't be afraid to soak them.

Cut down the wool.  Same situation as with the hose- you won't be able to show them a while, but don't be afraid to shave those wooled breeds down because of that.

Ice the ears.  If anyone seems to be particularly struggling, rub ice on their ears.  Rabbits use their ears for circulation, cooling the ears down cools down the rabbit.

Remove excess hair from nestboxes.  If it's really hot and your does are generous pullers, don't be afraid to take the largest part of the hair out.  You do have to worry about the littles overheating.

Bags of ice in front of any fans you have can really help cool the temps down.  However, with fans there is always a risk of fire unless the motors are totally enclosed. Make sure to keep them clean!

Bring them in.  If push comes to shove, bring your rabbits in the house with you. You can return them to the barn at nights when it cools down (as long as your house isn't kept too cool).  I've gone this route before and it's a pain, but it's worth it.

Good luck to everyone! I've read about too many losses already, my thoughts are with everyone!

-Kristen

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Snickers does it just to freak me out.

I wrote on the calendar that Snickers (who is on loan from Joni) was due on Tuesday, June 26th.  Joni couldn't figure out how that was possible based on the show I picked her up from.  I always mark on the calendar that they are due a day early, just to make sure I have a nestbox in place and that made a little sense to both of us.

Then I find on my notepad file on the computer that I typed in she was due next Tuesday, July 3rd.  That made a whole lot more sense to both of us, especially since I remembered waiting a few days to breed her.  Regardless, she's had her nestbox since Saturday, June 22nd. She pulled a hunk of hair or two to show she was willing to use it, but only when she was ready.

I go out to feed today and find a lucky four leaf clover. As I was marveling over it and showing Tim, I glanced up to see Snickers had completely filled her nestbox with wool!  I stuck a hand in and sure enough- three babies! Two perfects and a peanut. 

She went either two days late of the least likely due date or three days before the most likely due date.  I guess we'll never know. The perfects are a black and a shaded baby, both will carry nonextension because Snickers is a tort.  Squee :).

I went on and gave the other three does due the first few days of July their nestboxes.  I don't want anyone else going early and catching me unprepared! Thankfully she got her box so early, otherwise I'd have found babies on the wire and that would have definitely ruined my day.

-Kristen

Monday, June 25, 2012

Babies in the Barn

Keep's Harmony kindled three kits, though ultimately the only one born alive did pass away.  This is her second attempt, the first time she kindled all kits were born DOA.  I hope she gets it figured out soon!

Erb's Indiana kindled FIVE beautiful babies.  She scattered her first litter of seven, but this time around she did everything perfectly!  Four of the kits are black, one is a fun color- dare I hope it's blue or smoke pearl? I do dare! I am trying not to get my hopes up, however.

It's nice to have babies in the barn again.  I am going to try sexing them as babies and see how accurate it is.  It would be nice to know what to expect, even though I am still not making any babies available until at least 8 weeks old.

I'm planning on doing some junior evaluation soon.  I need to move out some rabbits- well I don't need to, I still have five empty cages, but with Indiana's awesome sized litter, I know space will be at a premium soon.

-Kristen

Thursday, June 21, 2012

An Anniversary

One year ago today, my heart was breaking.  Because of a mistake with the AC in my rabbitry, I walked in to find a horror that I still can't talk about without tears.  The biggest tragedy was losing Tryon.

It's hard for me to believe it has been a year.  The pain is fresh, like it happened only a week ago.  I've had friends tease me that they believed I loved Tryon more than my husband- and while that's not quite true, I have never bonded with an animal the way I did with him.

To be honest, a year ago I didn't think I'd still be in rabbits.  Actually, I had my sell out list drawn up. I privately posted on facebook a sell out announcement (that no one could see) to see how that would make me feel. I sold animals I should have kept because I found it hard to care.  It was a punch to the gut every time I walked in to the barn to feed and water the rabbits.  I stood in the driveway and cried because I couldn't stand the thought of going to a show, even after we had entered and loaded the car with rabbits.  I ended up letting Tim talk me in to going and Keep's Panda gave me a Reserve in Show.

Slowly, I started to heal.  I say slowly because I'm still healing.  I somehow bonded with Keep's Tribute- named after his father, the last Tryon son ever to be born.  He started out as a touch-me-not, but I think somehow he knew I needed him.

I stayed in rabbits, though I have considerably cut down the number of the herd and I've hit goals I never thought I would acheive- notably BOSG at Convention last year.

Yet through it all, I can't help but think of Tryon and Cupid- of the 11 babies that passed away.  The hope for the future of the rabbitry.  I think I'll never reach the enjoyment of the hobby I had before June 21, 2011. It changed everything for me.

The one bright spot in the month following "the Incident" was Keep's Fiona, who has made a miraculous recovery.  Not only has she shown again, which I never dreamed would happen, she has successfully kindled- only once, but it was still a success.  She fought to live like I have never seen a rabbit fight before- she too knew I needed her.

I needed my friends too.  Through the weeks and months after this, so many of you have continued to encourage me. Joni presented me with a beautiful picture frame that sports an engraved plate- Keep's Tryon, 26 legs, Forever in our hearts.  It sits on the mantle with our family pictures.  I can't go out the door to the rabbitry without seeing him.  Strangers have sent me the most beautiful messages of sympathy and encouragement.  Another friend, Michelle, purchased a new AC for the barn- a bigger, better unit- an amazing gesture because we had only recently met at that point.

So in the end- thank you all.  If you are reading this, you are probably one of the reasons Keep's Rabbitry is still here.

-Kristen

Sunday, June 10, 2012

We will miss you Judy.

On June 9th, 2012, Judy Bustle lost her battle with cancer.   For those of you that didn't know her, Judy was an incredible show secretary- I often joked that her show reports would beat me home from the show.

She was more than that though- she was funny and sweet, with just the right amount of sassypants thrown in.

For the longest time, I went through a period where I kept forgetting to write "Open or Youth" on my show entries- and Judy couldn't remember how old I was! It became a running joke between us- either I'd put OPEN big and in bold, or she'd tell me not to worry, she thought she'd finally figured out I wasn't young enough for youth.  We'd share a grin at the check-in table as she sorted the OPEN pile to find my entry.

Once, I forgot to send in my entries to a huge show.  Of course, I figured it out the next day, thankfully and sent her an email asking her to let me enter late.  We joked and bantered a little back and forth and I ended up bribing her with a Doves chocolate bar.  I'll never forget her smile when I slid it across the table at check-in like we were in the middle of a drug deal.

Many of us didn't know she was sick.  She was such a vibrant lady, I prefer to remember her this way, rather than after cancer had taken it's toll.  Such a proud lady, I think she'd prefer we all remember her this way as well.

I emailed her once, just to thank her for being such an incredible show secretary and for all of her hard work on our behalf.  This is part of what she emailed back to me: "...It takes more than just me.  We have the BEST exhibitors and writers.  Without them, my job would be much more difficult for sure.

I hope that she knows that we are going to miss her terribly. It's going to be sad to not see her again- this side of the world, anyway.  Without her, rabbit shows aren't going to be the same.

-Kristen

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Problem with Peanuts

 Peanuts are a sad case that pops up in any dwarf breed.  As a quick genetics review, a dwarf rabbit has one dwarfing gene and one normal gene- Dd.  What we call "Big Uglies", or non-dwarfed animals, have two normal genes, defined here as DD.  These animals are perfectly healthy and can still be valuable assets to a herd.

On the other end of that spectrum is the "double dwarf" kit, aka a peanut, genetically represented as dd. Unfortunately, two dwarf genes is a lethal combination. 999 times out of 1,000 a peanut will die within three days of being born.  When born, peanuts are often much smaller than healthy Dd or DD littermates and are characterized by pinched hindquarters that seem to curl around and "alienesque" heads with bulbous eyes.

Like many things in life, there is much debate about what to do when you find a peanut in your nestbox.  Some people cull them instantly.  Some people leave them to die naturally.  Others leave them a day or two to make sure they are peanuts, then remove them from the nestbox.

There are benefits and pitfalls to each approach. 

1.) Cull them instantly.  I used to be in this camp. I felt it was more humane to give the poor baby a quick death than to let it starve over the course of several days.  Then I nearly culled a "peanut" once in a Holland Lop litter. Something told me not to cull it because it didn't look exactly right- sure enough the "peanut" grew in to a healthy (albeit small) adult.  That was the end of my culling instantly.

2.) Let them die naturally.  This one has a lot of problems.  Now, you don't have to worry about mistakenly culling a runt this way, it's true.  Peanuts can also help provide warmth to healthy siblings for their first few days of life.  However, if you forget to remove the body (or are unable to find it- it happens!), several things can happen depending on the season.  In the summer, a dead kit can contaminate the nestbox by decomposing, sickening or even killing the healthy litter mates, not to mention drawing in flies.   In the winter, a dead kit can chill the healthy litter mates, again killing them.  Letting peanuts die naturally requires that you check on them several times a day until they pass.

As a word of caution, I have heard of peanuts living slightly longer lives- I myself had one that made it to 10 days old.  In these cases, I have to wonder if it is a "true" peanut (dd) or some other issue entirely.  Regardless, these kits will have problems, often being very, very small and having odd fur/wool, etc.   They may have trouble walking as well- my little guy seemed like he was always hanging on to life by the barest of threads.

3.) Leave them a day or two, then remove them.  This is my current plan of action.  By leaving the peanuts a day or two I am able to monitor their growth- or lack thereof.  Peanuts don't gain weight or grow, so they stay thin while their siblings fatten up.  Often before they die they resemble tiny little living skeletons- it's a terribly sad thing to see.  Once I notice that the kit is not gaining weight at all and has no milk in it's belly, it confirms for me it is a peanut and I humanely put it down to end it's suffering.   Leaving them in an extra day or two gives them that chance- it ensures I don't accidentally put down a runt like I mentioned in my Holland litter.  It gives the benefit of extra warmth to the siblings for the first day, but I don't worry about "losing" the kit when it passes away, nor do I worry about it decomposing or chilling the rest in the litter.

There is no right or wrong way to deal with peanuts, it is up to each individual dwarf breeder to decide the best course for themselves.  One thing we can all agree on is that peanuts are such a sad little case.

I suppose peanuts are on my mind lately because Nova had a litter of three that contained two peanuts.  One passed away less than a day after it was born.  The other is still in with it's healthy sibling, but I do so dread having to go out there today and see it withering away.  If only they could all be born healthy- but then, that's nature.

-Kristen

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ignorant Thinking- No, we don't make money.

I recently had to delete a comment off the blog- of course, it was from someone who didn't use their real name, but it was something like "Now breeders will have to go out and get real jobs", in response to the blog about California passing the law prohibiting animals being sold in lots of areas.

Wow- could you possibly be any more ignorant and still be alive?  I've been sitting here trying to think of a breeder I know that doesn't "have a real job".  I'm sure there are some out there that are retired now- you know, after a lifetime of working, now they are show breeders. 

It still amuses me that the general public thinks we make so much money off breeding rabbits.  Especially show rabbits! They don't realize the cost of equipment- cages, carriers, brushes, grooming tables, feeders, water bottles, etc. etc.   They don't realize the cost of show entries- as "low" as $3.50 per rabbit per show and going up as high as $17 per rabbit per show.  They don't take a look at what it costs to put gas in a vehicle that can haul carriers of rabbits hours away.

My barn has electricity- certainly not an extra cost at all- not to mention feed and supplements, toys- etc. etc. etc. The commenter clearly has not read one of the first blogs I ever posted about why you don't make money selling rabbits.

Rabbit breeders are not "bunny mills".  We breed to a standard of perfection.  I'd be perfectly happy to get 1 baby per litter, if it was the best "type wise" that it could be.  Not every rabbit is going to fall close to that and even if it does, we keep those who fall the closest- we don't sell them.  So yes- we keep our most valuable rabbits. We sell those who would be helpful to someone else's herd, true. Not everyone does pet sells.  I find it hard to find suitable homes for pet woolies, so often those go to someone who takes them for free as meat.  I get ZERO profit off any baby that goes to him- despite having put feed and hay in to them.  Some people disagree with rabbits for meat- that's your choice, but I prefer that to having them go to someone who took it because it was free and neglects it until it dies.  That's a different soapbox for a different day.

So in short- no, we don't make money.  My real job helps pay to make sure that my hobby is something I can afford to do.  I have spent more money than I'll ever hope to recoup on the rabbits, whether we are talking about building their dutch barn or specially shipping in their feed- or something entirely different.

-Kristen

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Baby Watch

I have four does due at the end of the month- Keep's Nova, Keep's Fiona, Keep's Puzzle and BL's Jiggy.  Puzzle and Jiggy are up first on the 30th, with Nova and Fiona due on the 31st.

As I passed out nestboxes today, Jiggy immediately dove in and started moving around mouthfuls of hay.  EEK!  Fiona was last to get her box and I stood for a moment unsure of where she was in the barn- with the recent moving around of cages, I had lost track of her.  I bent down to ask one "Are you Fiona?" but before I could get more than "Are" out of my mouth, I noticed a huge pile of pulled fur- yep, it was Fiona all right!

I am so excited that the two does are already working on their nests! Hopefully the other two will follow suit and I'll get a 100% baby rate this round.  We can hope anyway.

I checked on Sunset's babies, who are hardly friendly at all.  During some "forced snuggle time", I noticed the little buckling is very skinny.  Meanwhile, the doeling is fat as a pig! I checked my calendar and realized that they are a touch over 6 weeks old now, so as much as I didn't want to, I pulled the doe to wean her.  She has clearly been bullying her smaller brother and I'm hoping that some alone time with mom will help him bulk up a bit before I need to separate him out.

For some reason, mama bunnies don't intervene when there is a clear case of bullying- keeping others away from resources like food or water.  I guess it's one of those "survival of the fittest" instincts, but I'm not going to let this little guy waste away because his sister is a piglet.

Finally, I spent a minute or two with Muse's foster baby, the little chestnut.  Oh it is so adorable- and ran right up to greet me! This is a Poplar kid, so I know it's going to have that same "I'm a ham" personality.  I'm looking forward to watching it grow up!

-Kristen

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Taylorsville Show

We had an awesome time at the Taylorsville show today, despite one of our regular exhibitors having to be rushed to the hospital before the show!  Thankfully she is fine- from what I heard, she wasn't too pleased with her husband when he refused to bring her by the showroom- she could have made it for Show B!  That's dedication hehe.

I didn't have much to show as far as variety went- a self buck, a broken buck, three shaded senior bucks and a shaded junior buck. 

It was a hot, hot, hot day and the showroom was getting pretty toasty as the hours passed.  Thankfully the show went really quickly (we were done by 3pm or so). Joni had a box fan and some smaller personal fans that she let us cool off with and our bunnies were able to take advantage of the air circulation as well.

Unfortunately Romeo, the junior buck, was the only shaded junior buck. Blah.

In Show A:
Keep's Panda, the broken senior buck, took BOG! I was thrilled!
Keep's Poplar, the self senior buck, took BOG as well!
Keep's KHA, one of the shaded senior bucks, also took BOG!

Just when I didn't think the day could get better- Keep's Poplar took BOB! Yay for my pretty guy. His picture is featured in the right hand corner of the homepage of the blog!

In Show B:

Keep's Panda took BOSG
Keep's Poplar took BOG
Keep's KHA took BOG, edging out Keep's Little Comment for the class win.

Then Keep's Poplar took BOB- again!

Yayy! I'm so happy that my guy rocked the show today against the beautiful animals the other exhibitors brought.

I brought home Southland's Snickers from Joni- she was nice enough to let me borrow her for a litter.  I had originally intended to breed her to KHA, but he wasn't able to seal the deal quickly enough- and I was very tired after getting up so early for the show today.  She went on a very successful date with Tribute, so fingers crossed for lovely little babies in a month!

-Kristen

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bunnies Past


I got an email today from a lady who adopted a rabbit from us in 2007. 

The rabbit was a very special doe, "Bertha" (who Tim named because of her big ole butt).  She was our first mini lop and we loved her very much.  Bertha had several litters with us and then, in the course of time, it was that oh so familiar point at which we started looking for a new home for her.  I often try to retire special, sweet tempered does to pet homes if I can- regardless of if they are still breedable. 

Bertha went to live with this lady and I found out today that she passed away this past March.  I'm so grateful that she lived such a wonderfully long life with her owner and a rescued companion bunny.

I think as rabbit breeders, owners like Bertha had are all we can hope for and more- someone to love and cherish rabbits that we ourselves loved, but couldn't keep.  Owners that can spoil the ones we'd choose to be our pets if we had more space, more time, etc.  Bertha lived her whole life with someone who promised to take care of her and love her- someone that kept their promise.

I'm sad she's gone, but I couldn't have wished for a better life for her.  I know she was happy and that far outweighs the sadness.

-Kristen

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Frisky Juniors

I swear, you leave for a week and when you come back, all your babies have forgotten you!

Muse's little foster chestnut is adorable.  Becca, our pet caretaker, had texted me early on in the trip to let me know everyone was doing find and that "the littlest baby has left the nest."  Figures! It waits until we leave to make it's debut.  Not entirely unexpected, but really, the day after we leave you do it?

Sunset's two shadeds are still beautiful.  I haven't sexed them yet, I will wait until I put them in weaning holes to do that, but ohhh my fingers are crossed for a little lady!

Bee's babies are old enough to be weaned today or tomorrow. I am not in love with the little black and the pointed is a foster baby, so I may go on and sell both.  Sometimes that is the best option, especially since I am really excited for some of the other babies.  It's only Bee's first litter and since only one of the two survived, this won't be a fair representation of what she produces anyway.

One of my older juniors is right in the middle of uglies- and boy has he developed an attitude! I tried to pet him and he grumped then growled at me and ran around the cage trying to avoid my hand! Looks like we will have to do some therapeutic cuddling for the next week to see if he can't drop that attitude.  He needs to be brushed anyway, his wool looks like a rat's nest!

At least my seniors were happy to see me- Poplar was begging for head rubs and binkying around his cage. That makes me so happy to see! Of course I had to stop and give him and others head rubs before I could finish the feeding, but it is so worth the extra time to give out lovings to the bunnies that want it!

-Kristen

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Baby Bummer

Muse's single baby ended up dying.  Thankfully after 12+hours she was able to get a stuck DOA baby out and begin to care for her singleton, but ultimately it didn't make it.

Erb's Indiana dumped a litter of seven on the wire.   They all crawled out of the cage- it was a nightmare! I found one live baby, a little chestnut, then one after another I found the dead babies- they seemed to be never ending.   Indiana built a beautiful nest, for some reason she decided not to use it, though she has been continuing to pull wool.   It was her first time, so I feel sure she'll do better next time.  I gave her baby to Muse to raise.  After a short break, I'll be rebreeding Indiana.

I'm going to have to evict Sunset's babies.  They are 3 weeks old and showing no signs that they ever want to leave their nestbox!  I am not sure what their malfunction is, but it's high time to be out exploring, not hiding in the dark recesses of the nestbox.  These two babies are shadeds- a seal and a siamese sable.

Keep's Harmony pulled a ton of wool.  I don't really understand her- she was the first of the does due on Saturday to start nesting, then she destroyed her nest, ate all the hay....and then nested again?  She ended up having one large DOA.  Ugh.  At least she is finally started, I'll be rebreeding her again very soon.

So this was a depressing time for babies, but I did at least get one live baby and several does are started.

-Kristen

Monday, April 30, 2012

New Breedings

I have done a few breedings recently- 

Keep's Fiona x Keep's Panda
Keep's Nova x Keep's Tribute
Keep's Puzzle x Keep's Tribute
BL's Jiggy x Keep's Poplar

I've noticed that in my effort to spread out my shaded lines a little bit I am getting fewer and fewer shaded babies.  Currently I have the four babies- two are black, one is shaded and one is AOV.

Of the litters I am expecting, all of them are shaded to self with the exception of Jiggy & Poplar- that is a self to self breeding, though Poplar is a REW hiding agouti.  I could actually even get orange out of that pairing, since both carry for tort.

My fingers are crossed for doe babies.  I'm getting dangerously close to having a dying herd.  Most of my does are getting older- it has been two years since I started getting primarily boys.  I don't want to have to continuously buy does from other breeders to keep my herd going!

Keep's Muse kindled today.  Unfortunately one was a DOA, one is dying (she dumped it on the wire and I haven't been able to get it happily warmed back up) and I believe she is still in labor.  I hope she delivers this last kit soon and without a lot of trouble.  I can not afford to lose her!

Erb's Indiana made a lovely nest, but she has yet to put anything in it.  Fingers crossed for a healthy litter from her!

-Kristen

Friday, April 27, 2012

Boys, Boys and more Boys

I sexed the four babies that are old enough to be sexed- three boys and a girl.  Ugh, my mostly buck streak continues! It's been going on for two years now and it's difficult to improve the herd when you can't get girls!

Both blacks and the AOV are bucks, the lone girl is also the lone shaded in the breedings- a little siamese sable. Hopefully she turns out nice, since she automatically gets to grow out here for a little while.

I have more does due on Saturday and I have my fingers crossed as tightly as I can get them that I'll get does!

I am very tempted to try the "by the moon" breeding to see if it gets me results.  Clearly, just breeding them when I feel like it is doing nothing but getting me little boys!

-Kristen

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


A friend of mine felt like playing in photoshop the other day, so she threw up a quick facebook contest.  Imagine my surprise when I won!  I gave her free reign to choose any picture I had posted and do anything she wanted to with it-

This is what she decided on! I love the incorporation of Carolina blue in the flowers and of course, Panda is one of my favorite bunnies!  Hard to believe this picture was of him relaxing in his cage :).

I just wanted to share the cute!

-Kristen

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Best Laid Plans...

Well, today was going to be the day that we got the insulation up in the rabbit barn, installed the AC and did a huge spring cleaning session.

Instead, I wake up to rain, with more rain forecasted.  It is possible we can get some of the insulation up, but I am a bit hesitant to do that because my plan had been to pull all of the rabbit cages out of the barn at once.  I am not sure I want everyone sitting outside with the threat of rain looming over us.

It hasn't rained in forever and it chooses this day to do it? Geez!

At least the temperatures are looking mild for the rest of the week, so we can hopefully get this project completed next weekend!

-Kristen

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Baby Woes- and New Lines

What a set of baby woes I have had recently.

To start off with- every doe that was due this past week kindled.  Unfortunately, out of 9 babies born, only two are alive and healthy.

Keep's Sunset is the proud mother of two shadeds out of JG's Hot Stuff, the buck I brought in at Nationals to open up my shaded lines a little more.  Hot Stuff, when paired with Keep's KTLM produced Wonder's Kiss Me, the doe that brought $950 at the Golden Fleece Auction at Convention.  Needless to say, I am very excited to see what he produces here.

The thing that makes me the most nervous about bringing in new lines is the uncertainty.  Is there a genetic problem you aren't aware of? How does the line develop? Will it mesh well with what you already have?

I am lucky in that I bought Hot Stuff from Amber at Wonder Woolies, who is a good friend.  She gave me the information on anything she has seen pop up in his litters, how he breeds, what she has noticed from offspring, etc.  This kind of information is invaluable!

I will be rebreeding the girls that missed as soon as I know I'm well past our "vacation timeframe".  I don't want the friend who is feeding and taking care of the animals for me to have to deal with nestboxes or checking on litters.

-Kristen

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Great Saturday

Saturday we got up early and headed to Taylorsville for the double.  We weren't able to get our usual location, so we were crammed into a smaller side building- the wooly table was outside on a porch and it was cold for a good portion of the morning.

Despite that inconveniences- the show must go on!  I did very well under judge Jamie Green, which surprised me- I usually don't have excellent placings under him.  This isn't a knock on him, we just have a different vision of what our perfect wooly is, I guess.  This time however, I did very well! Panda took a BOSG, my little junior self buck Ninja won his class (1/6), while Poplar, my self senior buck took...oh shoot, I don't remember if he took BOG or BOSG and I'm entirely too tired to go find my show sheet! This is why I write down my placements though- less than 6 hours after we left the show and I'm already forgetting placements.  Keep's Tribute took a BOG in shadeds and Keep's Romeo surprised me by winning the shaded junior buck class, despite his awful molt and his "uglies" (he's 3 1/2 months old).  Ultimately, Keep's Poplar took BOSB in Show A!  I was so tickled, though Poplar seems to be my perpetual BOSB bunny.

In Show B, we nearly weren't assigned a table! This meant that at 4pm, we still hadn't been judged- we were crammed far down on the list of show breeds, though we had nearly 60 woolies.  We were all tired, luckily the ladies I show with are a bunch of goobers, so as tired as we were, there were plenty of laughs!

In Show B, under Carla Wilson, I also did fairly well! Panda took BOG while Keep's Taurus, a tiny little 10 week old buck beat out Ninja and the other self junior bucks to take his class.  I was thrilled, this guy was only along to give him show "practice".   Keep's Cairo took the Shaded Sr. Buck class, Keep's Muse took the Shaded Sr. Doe class and they placed BOG and BOSG in that order.   In the end, Keep's Cairo took BOB in Show B!  You could have knocked me over with a feather- I just happened to grab Cairo out of retirement and enter him because he felt pretty good... I'm glad I did!

Keep's Nim won BOB in Youth Show B for her owner.  I love seeing that girl, she loves her bunnies so much

Overall, it was an excellent day, even if it was very long and very tiring.  We didn't get home until after 7:00pm, which is an unusually late time on a show day.

-Kristen

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ooo- Updated!

I am enjoying having the website here on the blog! In less than a month, my official website will be gone.

I had to edit the For Sale page today- I will have two pet bunnies available once they turn 8 weeks old.  I decided that the For Sale page title will simply be changed to include the date whenever I post something new!

I'm just tickled in general at how low maintenance this solution is going to be! Yay!


In other news, I have three does due on Thursday! My fingers are crossed for some babies!

-Kristen
Keep's Rabbitry

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Taking Notes

One fun thing about showing is we do it differently in different parts of the country.  Here in NC, we don't use comment cards at the table.  In fact, I had never used the cards until I went to PA to show.

I often hang around the table with my scrap piece of paper and my pen, taking down my own placements.  I often can't remember from one group to the next how many animals were in each class or where my rabbits placed, so I have to do something!  I got in this habit back when I was part of an active rabbit forum- folks always wanted to know how everyone who had shown that day did.  I often had to say "Uhm...I don't remember.  I won a BOB! I have no idea how many rabbits there were...sorry!"  I was teased a bit for being so inattentive.

Several people I show with on a regular basis also take down their placements.  One lady actually keeps a very detailed notepad, complete with judge's comments, instead of just placements.  I tried doing this a few years ago but couldn't read my own chicken scratch as I frantically tried to write everything down as it was said.  I definitely admire her note-taking abilities!

From what I have noticed, comment cards definitely don't replace taking your own notes/placements or just good old fashioned listening to the judge.  By the time the poor writer finds the card and gets started, some of the judges are finishing up their remarks.  Most of my cards (from the few shows I have attended that have them) just have a few hasty check marks and maybe a "nice" or  "lacking" across a particular area of note.

So what about you? Do you write your own comments? Do you just take placings?  Do you get comment cards in your area?

-Kristen
Keep's Rabbitry

Monday, April 2, 2012

Big Congratulations!

The folks in Indonesia put on their first ARBA rabbit show this past weekend! 

Caudill's Country Boy took a double BOB and a single RIS for his new owner! I know Brian is thrilled- how great for a wooly to strut it's fluff and take a RIS so quickly!

Keep's Kat took a BOSB in Show A for her new owner, while Lyle Creek's Kendra took a BOSB in Show B for her new owner! 

How exciting! I am doubly shocked and thrilled, Miss Kat is a very molty girl right now, but her beautiful width and depth must have made up for the definite lack of wool.

-Kristen
Keep's Rabbitry

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Babies!

Keep's Bee surprised me yesterday when she pulled a ton of wool.  After a bit of a fuss in which she learned we nest in the nestbox and after I compromised and moved her box to the other side of her cage, I crossed my fingers and hoped that this first timer would get it right.

I ran out to the barn to check on her as I was leaving for work this morning- two beautiful babies, in the nestbox! They were on top of the wool instead of under it, but hey, close enough.  I pushed the babies in to the back of the box and gave them a blanket of Mama's wool.  A quick look makes me suspect they are both black.  It figures.  Bee carries shaded and tort, while the father to the litter, Keep's Tribute is a seal.  Yet I get black.

Ahhh well, it looks like the selfs are slowly taking over the barn- the only other "babies" I have are a black and a broken black- both bucks.  These two little guys are definitely old enough to show, so I guess I shouldn't call them babies anymore.  They are young men at this point!

I'm going to rebreed all the girls who missed and I will try to palpate the ones due in April.  I always forget to palpate them- it will save me a lot of frustration if I can go on and figure out they aren't pregnant now.
Edit:  When I got home from work, Keep's Epiphany had given me four Panda babies! Eeek!


-Kristen
Keep's Rabbitry

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Changes

I have decided to officially get rid of my website.  I will be adding pages to this blog and you will still be able to come here via the www.keepsrabbitry.com link.  I will no longer be maintaining a separate website, since maintaining has become exactly the problem!

I am excited to get the blog updated to include the new pages. I will definitely be keeping the "Bucks", "Does", "Sales", "Links" and "Pet FAQ" page.  I may add an "About Us" page and perhaps a show results page- I am just not sure about that yet.

These changes will be occurring in the next few weeks, so if you try to come to the blog one day and it tries to redirect you to keepsrabbitry.com, don't be surprised!

-Kristen
Keep's Rabbitry

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hay time!

I bought the most beautiful bale of hay from TSC yesterday.  It's green and absolutely gorgeous...and the smell! Oh the smell...

It was a warm day and we left the hay in the car while we ran in to another store.  We came back and jumped in the car and it was filled with this glorious fresh-hay smell...it reminded me very strongly of green tea.

The rabbits are going to go nuts for this stuff! I always celebrate a new bale of hay by giving out a handful to everyone. It doesn't hurt that I usually have a little more than I can conveniently store.

Indiana hasn't had babies for me. I'm not completely counting her out yet, but I am definitely not expecting a litter anymore.  The new bale of hay comes just in time to fill up nestboxes for the other girls.  Hopefully I have better luck with them!

-Kristen
Keep's Rabbitry

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Waiting on babies.

Erb's Indiana is due tomorrow! This is her first litter with me, I purchased her as a junior from Convention and I'm very pleased with her type and personality!  She earned two legs as a junior but has gone a little overweight, so I am doubting I'll ever get the opportunity to grand her, which is a shame.  However, I'd much prefer a good producing doe than a dozen champions that don't take care of their litters.

I'm out of regular hay, so Indiana is nesting in alfalfa.  Hopefully she's nesting in it, anyway.  I know it's going to be a very tempting snack, but hopefully she controls herself!

The next round of girls are due just five days after Indiana, then we have quite a break until April when the next round should be ready.  Pretty much every lady of age in the barn is bred.

The few juniors I have are looking good. I am very pleased with what I'm producing right now- if only the girls will give me more babies! My litter numbers have been low recently- I don't know if I should chalk that up to the fact it's "winter" or it's just bad luck.

I am thinking Panda will be given a break as "Top Stud" in the barn.  I have an unrelated shaded buck that I purchased at Nationals- I am definitely wanting to get plenty of offspring out of him to spread out mine lines a little before I start folding them back in to the tighter "Keep's" lines.

-Kristen
Keep's Rabbitry

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nationals has come and gone!

Oh gosh- well after two months of nothing but Nationals-centric posts, it's come and gone!

I miss everyone already- I really do.  I went out to dinner Sunday night with a group of 9 other people and we ended up sitting in the restaurant for nearly 3 hours, talking, laughing and just enjoying each others company.  Luckily the restaurant wasn't busy, so we weren't hurting the waitress's income!

I met so many new people this year and got to enjoy renewing friendships with those that I barely get to see.  I really do miss you guys already! Please come back soon :).

I also learned that I need to come with a disclaimer, since my sense of humor comes off strangely sometimes and I have to explain to folks I'm kidding.  My In-laws still don't have a full handle on it, so I guess I can't expect strangers to pick it up instantly either.

Amber at Wonder Woolies in California & Joni spent the night at at the house this weekend- too much fun, though we exhausted each other with our constant talking! I wish we had had more time to hang out and had been less tired!

All my sales rabbits went to great new homes and everyone seems happy with their purchases, so I'm thrilled! I also managed to sell the 9 excess chicks I still had- so I am down to just one cage with 9 chicks that I plan to grow out a little longer.

So- on to the results!  I was very pleased for the most part, considering the lack of coats and condition.


Nationals

Panda- 2/11- So close!
Zumba- 3/7
Poplar- 5/21
Tribute- 4/15
Heart Throb- 5/15
Epiphany- 5/13

Not too bad :).  Poor Panda placed 2nd in 3 shows and took BOSG in two!  His son  Zumba took 2nd in two shows, 3rd in two shows and won his class once!

Poplar is my big winner, he took BOSB in Show B on Nationals Day!

Keep's Epiphany did very well- she is almost 3 and was tearing up the table with her top 5s- including BOSG and BOG the Day after Nationals!

Tribute's placements were very good- Top 5 in four shows (twice he was 2nd! SO close!) and then one judge placed him fairly low in the class.

All in all, a very good set of placements against some very beautiful animals.

Pictures to come soon!

-Kristen