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Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Time Has Come

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings." - Lewis Carroll

I've been in rabbits a long time.  In fact, I've had show rabbits my entire married life and most of my relationship with Tim.  This blog has been running since 2007, which I find hard to believe.

I have seen unimaginable highs- BISs with Mini Lops, with a Holland Lop, BOSG at Nationals with a wooly- then BOSG at Convention with a wooly... and I have seen unimaginable lows.

I love the woolies very much.  I love the people and I love the competition.  I've found myself the District 9 Director for the NJWRC, the NC State Representative for ARBA and recently was offered the NCRBA Secretary position, which I had to respectfully decline.

I'm selling out.

It's time for me.  I want to leave while I still love the hobby and while the rabbits are close to my heart.  All signs are pointing to it being time for a new beginning in my life.  Tim is supportive either way, though he keeps offering alternatives- keeping a smaller herd, showing less, etc.  I can't do that.  I'm an all-or-nothing kind of person.  My heart tells me to let it go.

I plan to keep several woolies as pets.  Panda & Poplar are staying, as is Fiona.  I'm keeping Tribute, my last Tryon son, and a little Tryon doppleganger, lovingly named Second Chance (but his nickname isn't fit to be published ;) ).

I will keep some of the rabbits until Jersey Wooly Nationals.  I want one last chance to show my best with the best.  I want the chance to say good-bye, because let's not have any pretense here- I will not "see" many of the folks who have grown dear to me ever again.  I'm so thankful for Facebook, which will at least allow me to keep in touch.

Please, don't contact me right now asking for sales lists, pictures, etc.  Those will come.  A large part of the herd will be sold at the NCRBA State Convention in March.  At that time, I will also offer those that are available at Nationals.

"Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else."- Mr. Rogers

Thank you, for taking this journey with me.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!  I am thrilled to present to you "Coco Puff".  He enjoys running circles around the Christmas tree, weaving in and out of the presents and stealing treats from the dog.

Coco Puff is the beloved pet of a little girl (and her family) and he rules with an iron paw.  If he wants your snack, he has no problem leaping on to the couch, climbing across laptops and up to your face to steal it right before you take that next bite.

I'm so thrilled to see one of my babies living such a spoiled rotten life and thankful that this family finds so much joy in each other.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and as much pleasure in each other and in the little things as Coco Puff has found.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Babies, Babies, Babies...Ohhhh

I took a look at Keep's Nim's babies today. The fat little creatures have their eyes open but are still hiding deep in their comfy nest. C'mon babies, it's not THAT cold outside! Think I will have to serve them an eviction notice soon.  Both are siamese sables and are sired by Keep's Sleep Walker, my golden fleece donation buck.  I'm so thrilled to have two litters out of him!

I can hardly KEEP TB's Toy Pansy's babies in their box.I am so ready to get this rabbit out of the house, but I can't do that until the stupid little broken kits realize they need to stay in the box- or until they get eyeballs and can handle cold temps better.  Her first litter, two of the three kits kept jumping out of the nestbox and ultimately they died, so I am fighting to keep this second litter alive.  Judging by how many times I've caught both brokens out of the box, I think it was a good decision.

Luckily Keep's Lovesong's babies are staying put- she's finally gotten the hang of being a Mama and isn't eating all the hay out of their box. *whew*.  I ended up fostering Puzzle's single baby by Orion in to her box, to free Puzzle up and to provide the singleton with some extra warmth that comes with siblings.  Lovesong's litter is out of Keep's Fury, who went to live in Michigan.  I'm so thankful I have this litter out of him, and that Lovesong is taking care of them.

Now to enjoy my last few days before the NEXT set of kits is due- right around the end of next week.  This unseasonably warm weather has been a blessing for breeding and births, but I think the good weather is at an end for us.  Sigh.


Monday, October 28, 2013

After Convention- so what's next?

A lot of people wonder what comes after Convention.

Something that big breeders and small breeders, famous breeders and newbies all have in common.  We all come home and we cull, cull, cull.

Cull is something of a dirty word nowadays.  The uninformed tend to think it means kill, when the word cull actually means to "the process of removing breeding animals from a group based on specific criteria." (wikipedia, ya'll!).  Even the BOB winners come home and evaluate their stock and make determinations on what fits best with their breeding programs and what needs to move along.

In my case, this is exactly what I am doing.  Some litters of juniors are reaching that age where I have to decide if I am going to grow out one, none, or all of them.  It's time to move on any does and bucks that I don't see myself using very much.  Winter is coming and I need to reduce stock to care for.  This may mean that animals end up in a pet, breeding or show home.  Yes, it may mean that I end up having to fatally cull them.  At least in the case of the last option, I know that my animals are loved, respected and cared for even as they take their last breaths.  No rotting away in a filthy cage in a neglectful "pet home" found via the first person to contact me from Craigslist. 

In any case, I've already identified some young brood stock to let go.  There are a few others that I am having a hard time with.  Is that brother larger and going to be a brood, or is his brother just particularly small?  Those ears look terrible right now, but is it because they are in their uglies, or is that going to be a permanent trend?  What about that junior in uglies?  He's nice, but is he nice enough to become a Keep's herd buck?

So many decisions to be made and Convention has done nothing but made me pickier.  I find myself looking at some of the juniors left behind with a jaundiced eye, comparing them to some of the animals I sold recently.  I think my buyers got the best of me this time, as I am missing the bucks that left me.

At least Convention has given me a new perspective on what I need to improve and who will help me do that.   The current herd better watch out- there is always a new batch of juniors just around the bend, ready to make them work for their places.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why Mentor?

Mentor: a trusted counselor or guide

Mentoring.  It can be simple, a bit of guidance for a big event, but short event, like our National Convention, or it can be a lifetime of committing yourself to helping someone learn and grow.  It can even be somewhere in between.

The question today is why do it?  Why "bother" trying to teach someone, to help your current or future competition grow so that some day they catch up with you- or gasp even surpass your knowledge.  We all know how the movies go- the student becomes the Master and yadda yadda yadda.

Well to start with, I love to hear myself talk.  ;).

Honestly, the shortest, simplest answer for me is pride.  I take pride in seeing "my" youth do well.  I take pride in hearing them rattle off genetics correctly, in asking them to help me evaluate a rabbit and seeing them catch all the same things I did, and maybe catching something I missed.  Even if they don't walk around shouting from the rooftops "Oh, Keep taught me everything I know!", I hope they will remember me fondly years down the road as someone that was kind, who was never too busy to answer a question, even if they felt a bit silly asking it.  In a hobby where there can be so much nastiness, I feel it is important to make an extra effort to be that bit of kindness that may be what keeps someone going.

In any event, hopefully they take it to heart and pass on their knowledge to others. 

Our knowledge and our understanding isn't something that should be jealously guarded. It should be a beacon, drawing in the curious, those who are thirsting to understand.  We should let them in to our private little world built by mistakes and missteps and educate them. 

Plus- there is nothing like seeing one of "your" kids or "your" adults run to you first with pride shining from their eyes, to tell you their big news.


Monday, September 16, 2013

The Season Starts Again

Saturday was the first show of the Fall season.  It's been a long time coming, many of us haven't had a show in months.  It figures that many of the animals celebrated the first show by blowing their coats completely.

It was a very successful show, considering I went in to it with absolutely no expectations.   Keep's Orion took BOSB in Show A, while in Show B Keep's Outlaw took BOSB and Keep's Puzzle took BOB!  These three animals are on my short list to be considered for Convention spots.

This Sweeps year was finalized recently.  I placed 9th Open Overall, which isn't bad considering there was some kind of error that led to 1500 of my points not being counted. Unfortunately, I didn't discover the error until after points were finalized.

I was also 9th place in Open Herdsman, the highest placing of anyone in District 9!  Herdsman only takes BOB and BOSBs in to consideration and only 5 points may be earned per animal.  This is an exciting placement for me, as it speaks to the big wins in the herd, rather than one animal specifically.

Keep's Catching Fire with one of her BOB trophies
Speaking of one animal specifically- Keep's Catching Fire placed #5 Rabbit of the Year! I have never placed a top wooly and this is an incredible thing for me- especially considering that I was actively trying to breed her and it did prevent her from showing at several shows.

Finally, there is a category called the Award of Excellence.  This counts only bonus points from BOB and BOSB wins- in effect, how many rabbits did you win over.  I placed 8th in this contest.

It was a successful year for Keep's Rabbitry, though my "white whale", that elusive Best in Show, still eludes me.  I am very excited about some upcoming juniors, and hey- maybe this year will be my year.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Making Herd Decisions

It's hard to let go some of those rabbits.  You know the ones- that brood doe who throws GCs litter after litter. That buck who seems to be in every pedigree in your barn.   The first anything- first GC, first BIS, first RIS, first National winner-  it's hard.

Part of building a strong herd is learning when to let an animal go.

Ask yourself some simple questions:

1.) Has that rabbit outproduced itself?  This one serves a two part purpose.  If the rabbit has outproduced itself, move it on.  You have better now.  If it hasn't, consider how many litters you've had out of it.  If a buck has been bred to every doe in your barn and hasn't outproduced himself, he never will.  Why continue to breed him and take a step back in your program?  The same goes for does.

2.) Am I using that animal?  Too often I've blinked and realized I have a buck that is two years old, but for one reason or another, I've never used him- or only used him once.  If you find yourself passing over animals time and time again in favor of breeding others, move them out.  They are doing no good sitting in a cage.

3.) Do they contribute enough to the herd?  Maybe you have a doe that is hard to breed- she throws once baby at a time, and only catches one out of every three breedings or so.  Is she worth keeping in your herd?  I don't know about you, but I have a limited number of holes.  I prefer to keep does that pull their weight by kindling several kits at time and that breed easily. Same with bucks- lazy or picky breeders drive me NUTS.

4.) How old are they?  A lot of breeders try to move out does by 2 1/2 years old.  This isn't a bad practice to have, because again- by this age, they should have either outproduced themselves, or shown that they never are going to do so.  Let them go.

5.)  How many do you have?  This is one I am terrible about.  If you have a forty hole rabbitry and 10 shaded senior bucks, something is wrong.  (I'm looking at myself here.)  Line them up and identify your bottom three (at least).  If you have seven better bucks in the same color group, why are you keeping those bottom ones?  Identify if it is for sentimental reasons or not- then let them go! Even #8, #9 & #10 may be very nice animals that can help someone else's herd.  You don't need so many in the same class.

So there you go- hopefully this helps you identify where you can make cuts in your herd and open up some cage space!