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Saturday, September 29, 2007


The American Rabbit Breeders Association, or "ARBA" (yes, I'll just say R-bah...I'm lazy ;) ).

Why should we join? You don't have to be a member to show, breed, or sell rabbits.

The most important reason (in my humble opinion) is that in order to Grand a rabbit (make it a grand champion after it earns 3 legs), your rabbit must be registered. It can't be registered unless you are a member in good standing (you haven't let that membership lapse!) of ARBA. It feels good to say "Grand Champion Keep's Super Fly", instead of "Keep's Super Fly...oh he has enough legs to grand, I haven't because I'm not an ARBA member, so I can't register him." If that rabbit at 2 years old loses a nail, or gets a malocclusion from chewing on wire, you can't register him! So then, he'll never be a GC, even if you do sell him to someone who IS a member. (This is why most folks also recommend registering as soon as they hit 6 months old if possible!)

I enjoy letting people know that I am a member of an official organization. On my website, I proudly let folks know we're registered ARBA members. I've been told by pet buyers in the past that this is a comfort to them (prior to contacting me) because it indicates a seriousness about the rabbits- it let them know I was knowledgeable and cared about what I was doing (their words).

When you join, you also receive a subscription to the rabbit magazine "Domestic Rabbits". I love this magazine! It lets you in on updates from your district, plans that may be in the works, and has great articles on rabbit care, origin, etc. This alone helps me justify the small cost of ARBA membership.

You get other perks- like the Official Guidebook To Raising Better Rabbits they send you and the ARBA Yearbook.

Really, it's up to you. You can support the big club that is supposed to be there to help protect the breeders from the crazies who want animals to be extinct, or given their own apartments with social security and human servants (my cats and dogs have that already- *sigh*), etc. etc. You can take advantage of the perks and benefits that are set up to make the entire rabbit experience more pleasurable. I'd highly recommend joining, if you haven't already. :)

Keep's Rabbitry

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mice Mice Mice....

Okie dokie, so you've got mice in the barn. Some of you are saying "what's the big deal? I like mice, they are cute.

I like mice too- when they are in cages in the house. Or at the petstore....or out in a field far away from my stuff.

A mouse in the barn means all kinds of things. For instance, they may have chewed a hole in the feed bag and are now living and defecating in the food you give your rabbits. Or they are climbing in the the cages and hanging out in crocks and J feeders. Maybe their base of operations is in that bale of hay you just bought.

I was horrified just the other day to hear Tim say "aww, look a mouse!". Really? Where? Catch it, Kill it, Get RID OF IT! If you want a small furry rodent to play with there are two pet rats at my house. Go cuddle them.

We keep our food and our hay in plastic bins, with tops on them, to keep bugs and rodents out. That doesn't mean I want the wild creatures running around. Rats in particular WILL EAT BABY RABBITS. We had a rat attack on my first litter ever. That poor little baby was crippled for all of it's short life.

So how do we get rid of mice/rats?

You can set the traditional rat traps and use peanut butter, cheese, a little rabbit food, whatever you want, to lure them to it. I don't recommend catch-and-release traps simply because if they found their way in once, they can do it again. Now, if you want to drive 15 miles and then dump it out, by all means feel free to try it! Make sure to check the traps at least once a day, and remove anything you find, you may increase or create a fly problem.

Barn Cat. I know a lot of folks that have them and swear by getting a good mouser to live in the barn. For me, that's just something else I have to feed. Not to mention we live close to 2 roads, and I'd hate to find the kitty dead in the street. I'm also not 100% comfortable letting a creature that preys on small animals (including rabbits!) into my barn where I may have babies or juniors escape the cages (it's happened before).

I don't do the glue trap method. To me, it's cruel, because they starve to death, or when you find them YOU have to figure out how to kill them. It is an option, however, just be prepared to personally put them down.

I also don't recommend sitting out poison- as someone with 3 dogs, I know they'd be the first ones into it. I'm also afraid one of the few Houdinis in my barn would escape and- well I wouldn't want to find them in the morning.

*Warning The Next Idea is Graphic*
I've personally never used this idea, but I have heard it's extremely effective.

Make your own bucket trap by threading some wire through a 20 oz coke bottle, and wire it across the top of a five gallon bucket so it spins freely. Fill the bucket halfway up with water, and then smear peanut butter all over the bottle. Lean a 2x4 or other wooden piece up against the bucket so it reaches about 2 inches from the bottle. The mice will run up the ramp, and try to jump onto the peanut butter covered bottle, then flipped into the water (and drowns). It resets itself, so you can get more than one mouse in a night. You can also make this a catch-and-release trap.

Keep's Rabbitry

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pests in the Rabbitry- Flies

Yes yes, I know some folks consider rabbits the pests, but what do you do about those pests that invade your barn- the mice, spiders and flies/bugs? This is probably going to be an installment post, to keep the length down!


I hate flies. Hate them with the fiery burning of 1,000 suns. Despise them. You might even say, I'm not a big fan. There are several ways to try to deal with flies- you're never going to be 100% free of them (if you are and have stayed that way, PLEASE email me with details!)

First of all, flies do not indicate you're a bad owner! We clean our trays a lot and of course, we still have flies. Try not to let the mess get ahead of you, and if you spill any waste on the floor, get it cleaned up. This will help attract less flies, especially if your poo dumping area is NOT right at the door to your rabbitry :). The more you clean, the less flies you'll have, but I seriously doubt many of us have the time to clean 30+ cages daily.

We use Fly Strips. You can get 4 for $1.00 at any feed store/Tractor Supply- maybe even Walmart, I've never looked. Basically, these are sticky strips that come in small tubes. You unroll them, tack them up and enjoy as each day you go in there, more and more creatures are caught on the sticky. We usually hang 2-3 in various spots around the barn, so no matter where the flies go, we've got em! The up-side to this is it's not poisonous, and once you get it hung you can ignore it until it's time to hang a new one. The downside? It's gross if you accidentally touch the sticky ribbon, but I've had to help does with stuck kits- I can handle it!

Occasionally, when super frustrated, Tim & I will arm ourselves with fly swatters and go to town. The downside is, we get tired long beffore we get all the flies, and the rabbits aren't terribly appreciative of the thwacks and thuds. However, it's so satisfying when you're irritated.

A southern tip for dealing with flies is to attach a clear baggy of water near the door to any entrances that are used. Do I know why it works? Of course not. Something about the flies seeing themselves reflected and *mumble mumble mumble*. I have seen cases where it worked though. Also a case where no poison is involved and it's cheap. Of course, as with most old wives tales, it'll work for some and not work at all for others.

You can also put up those traps that look like plastic containers with holes in the top. They contain scented liquid that draws the flies, who get stuck in the container and die. These run you about $6 at TSC. The downside, is no where at TSC did I see liquid refill pouches. That deterred me from buying them, though let me know if these are available for purchase.

You can also order prey insects to release in your barn- they eat baby flies (the pupa stage of development). Of course, if you have a bunch of adults, you may need to use this in conjunction with the strips or containers (or swatter!). We've never tried prey insects for the simple fact- how do I know they'll spend any time at all in my barn? I don't want to pay to have them sent here, release them, and wave good bye as they all head to my neighbor's house lol. That is just my luck too.

Hopefully these are a few ways to get you started with de-flying the barn. We'll work on mice next.

Keep's Rabbitry

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Breeding Updates.

Well, so far I'm not terribly impressed with Apple Cider Vinegar.

I tried to breed 4 does today, all who have been on the ACV. Out of those four, only 1, a broken mini lop, wanted to breed. So I've got a 25% success rate with ACV. I loaded up the water of several of the others I *REALLY* want babies out of soon, and we'll try tomorrow, when there is a lot of light outside. Maybe that will jump start the girls a little bit. I guess I can't blame the ACV, there were 3 days in a row they didn't get it, but it's nice to have a scapegoat sometimes.

I came home last night to find one dead baby on the wire. Luckily for me, Malena noticed a nice nest and a spot of blood but no babies with one doe, and after a quick search of the ground located the first newborn! It's currently living the good life with Malena & one of her does who has agreed to be a foster mom. This other baby was a fetal giant and wouldn't have made it anyway. Thankfully Malena had her eye out for babies!! Especially since the other does who are due don't really seem like they are going to be on the ball. We're already 2 days late on the others. *sigh*

There go a few more does that have to go back in to the breeding "rotation". I hate it, I truly do. With a limited number of nestboxes, I can only breed X number of does at a time, 2-3 weeks apart. So when the does don't take, that's one extra rabbit I have to add in to my list of girls I want to get babies from. Which means one more doe I have to put off breeding for another few weeks.

I'm currently looking for nestboxes. I'm willing to do bunny trades (depending on the rabbit & number of nestboxes), or knock some money off a rabbit- or straight out buy them! If you know anyone in the NC mountains with extras, drop me a line! :)

Keep's Rabbitry

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Leave of Absence.

I'll not be posting over the next few days, my paw-paw (grandfather) passed away tonight. I apologize if you try to get a hold of me and find it impossible.

I'll leave you with this poem, which I find comforting- I hope you do too, whether it be due to a passing of a beloved animal, or of a person in your life.

Death is nothing at all

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped away
into the next room.

I am I,
and you are you;
whatever we were to each other,
that, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way
which you always used,
put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air
of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we shared together.
Let my name ever be
the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect,
without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all
that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you,
for an interval,
somewhere very near,
just around the corner.

All is well.

Henry Scott Holland
1847 -1918

Keep's Rabbitry

Apple Cider Vinger

Also entitled "How to make your does want to have babies".

I've had an extremely frustrating time with some of my rabbits, especially the hollands, not wanting to lift for the bucks. This is especially frustrating when it means that same rabbit (or rabbits) have been sitting in the barn for 6 months doing nothing but eating our food and pooping.

Now, this isn't to say the rabbits are treated like baby machines. When they have a litter, the litter is weaned after 8 weeks, and the condition of the mother is evaluated. If she only had 1 baby, she may very well be bred again immediately. With the larger litters, the mama bunny gets more time off to goof around and enjoy being baby free. As always, the health of our does comes before breeding.

However, when a doe has a dead litter, I do prefer for her to be rebred within days. It is these does, that feel that even 6 months later they don't want to have litters, that irk me. C'mon ladies, that's just lazy!

My first question is- is the doe too fat? Sometimes they are getting too much food and don't want to breed, or have trouble getting pregnant because of all the extra baggage they are carrying around. Most of my girls have been on diets, because I have noticed I have a tendency to overfeed. However, even after the diet, not a lot of the cages are rockin'.

Next I wonder- is it too hot? Well, with the highs being in the low 70s, I'm thinking this isn't the problem anymore.

Is the buck trying? Oh yeah, my bucks give it 110%. In fact, I usually have to smack them off when, after about 5 minutes, nothing has been accomplished and I'm tired of squatting next to the cages, poised to remove the doe if she gets aggressive.

So, I've turned to good old Apple Cider Vinegar. This is my first attempt with this remedy, but let me tell you how it's supposed to work.

You put 6 mL of vinegar per liter of water. I've heard it a tablespoon to a gallon, and I have heard of breeders who just dump it in and turn the water pink. I don't suppose it really matters, it's worked for all kinds of folks, using all kinds of measurements. I took the "a dollop'll do ya" approach, just pouring in a small amount in to certain water bottles.

Supposedly, the vinegar in the water tinkers with the hormones of the does, increasing their desire to be bred. Then again, I've also heard it helps make coats shinier, so maybe they just feel prettier. I know after dosing the water of the girls I have who are not pregnant, or nursing (that one whole doe that is nursing one whole baby >.< ), no one was all that eager to guzzle from their water bottles. It may be the strange smell though, because again, I've heard from breeders who use it that rabbits come to really enjoy the "medicated" water.

So we shall see, I'll continue the vinegar until I get the results I'm after. It won't hurt my feelings if it takes a few more days, I like to have at least 2 weeks between groups of breedings. I have 2 does due on the 20th, 4 due in early October, and if I can get the cider to work, hopefully I'll soon have 4 more due at the end of October/early November.

Wish me luck, I'll keep you guys updated on my Vinegar progress!

Keep's Rabbitry

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Greensboro NC Show Results

I'm going to give you the abridged version, since the entire set of results can be seen here.

Keep's Basheba, solid junior mini lop doe, made me proud when she earned her first leg, a BOB in Show A!

Roy's Tiny Thomas kicked butt as the lionhead (tortoise) BOB in Show A & C.

Velotta's Joe brought home a BOV (I'm sorry for the diet Joe, we'll work on getting you back in shape!)

Keep's Spectacular- shaded jersey wooly buck- won BOSG in Show C! He also lost by hair in Show B (for his class), and that was only because he's such a baby! *love*

Keep's Gorgeous- won her class every time! 1/2 :).

I got GREAT comments on some of my babies! We took a large number of 2nd & 3rd places!

I also managed to sell several rabbits! Yes, we must say goodbye to Dega, Dream, LL & Floppy, they are off to wonderful new homes across the state :).

We are, of course, exhausted! We left around 8 am Friday morning and arrived in Elon, where we hung out with my dad. Saturday morning saw us up at 6:30 and heading to the show! We set up, and I tattooed (my first time doing tattoos for other people!), groomed and of course chatted with friends.

Then the Show A started- I wrote for half the show for Roger Bustle, until Jersey Woolies came up, then Tim took over for the rest of the show- all told, we wrote for all of Show A & B! I ended up writing for mini lops, which I enjoy because I can get a good look at the rabbits :). I also got to write for Californians- fascinating! Roger is a great judge and very friendly- he makes it fun to help him out.

We were flat out exhausted by Show C, but I'd made some new friends (who are starting out in Nethies and Mini Lops). By the last show, the room and cleared a lot, and I wish we hadn't stuck around for it- it was 11 pm before we got home Saturday! Plus we had to feed and put everyone up!

I'm so tired today I have a feeling I'm not going to be good for anything- but oh well, I had a blast! I'll have to get a picture up of our BOB winner & the nifty apron we won thanks to her :)

Keep's Rabbitry

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Reasons to sell rabbits

I know one or two people get suspicious when someone is selling a nice rabbit for a less than exorbitant price. The question "What's wrong with it?" usually jumps to mind.

For your consideration, here are a few reasons you might be able to get a very nice animal, for cheaper!

Cage Space
I know I'm guilty of giving away or petting out very nice brood quality animals because of a sheer lack of cage space. You'll rarely see me giving away a show quality animal, but I've been known to do some extremely slashed prices, and I'll always cut a deal on multiples purchased, even when the prices are already low. This is because I'd rather sell the rabbit than have to take it home where I don't have room for it (maybe a daughter or son replaced it) and have to continue to feed it when I need that hole.

I know several breeders that try to sell their does by 2 1/2- young enough they can still produce, but old enough they've probably left a lasting legacy in the barn. This can be a great way to get lines or quality, but pay a discounted price, because the doe IS 2 1/2 already.

Replacement Buck or Doe
I know I've got an adorable black tort doe for sale right now who produced herself out of a job in her first litter! I know, I know...but she did, so now I'm selling her just to make room! (Hey I didn't say there couldn't be multiple reasons all at once!). This is a common practice- if you have something better, why not move Daddy or Mama out? Even if to you and me, the animal looks perfect! There may also be a brother or sister that they simply like better.

An existing fault in the line
ALL rabbits have faults! If I need better crowns and everything else is as I want it, I'm not going to keep a rabbit with a bad crown, now am I? Especially if it's just as bad or worse than on the animals I already have that are proven for me and I can predict what their offspring look like. Nope, this rabbit with the amazing body that you need will end up in the for sale pile simply because I don't want to add more slipped crowns- while you can fix that slipped crown with the amazing ones you have on your rabbits. These rabbits may be a little more expensive than most of the others, simply because if age or space isn't an issue, this is your regular for sale rabbit :).

Doesn't work with current stock
I've had this one happen. Oh yeah, nothing is more disappointing then putting out the big bucks to get a beautiful buck, to bring in more lines, and have it just not work! Heartbreaking! And usually, out of frustration you put the rabbit up for sale because you can't use him! I will even lower the price below what I paid, just hoping he goes quickly, because he's a beautiful reminder of a failed experiment :(.

I try to tell folks- don't buy on price, buy on quality. Yes, that buck if he's as nice as you think he is should be $150. Maybe the person doesn't feel like charging an arm and a leg. Maybe they are trying to help someone else out. Maybe they just need him gone quickly! Don't over look a beautiful rabbit simply because you're suspicious of the price. And that's my lesson of the day :)

Keep's Rabbitry

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Baby Pictures

I decided to share a few pictures of my very few juniors! As some of you know, this summer hasn't been kind, with the move and the heat.

To the side you see Keep's Slider, our 3 week old GT Steel (ticking is just starting to come in!) mini lop baby. This little guy (or gal) is out of Abby & Joe, my first and only baby from a cross I've wanted incredibly bad! No preference on a buck or a doe, as long as it continues on the beauty of both parents!

This is Keep's Gorgeous- and let me tell you the name fits her! She's a smoke pearl jersey wooley and can you believe she's not even 3 months old yet?! LOOK AT THAT HEAD!! I've already repeated the breeding (you had better believe it)

This is Keep's Spectacular (yes, I do feel very cocky with these names lol). He's a Siamese Sable buck, full brother to Gorgeous, with a body that just won't quit. I'm sooo lucky to have such beautiful babies! The Woolies will be hitting the show tables this weekend in Greensboro, NC.

Isn't that sad, that's about it for my babies. I do have two others, another mini lop and another wooley, but they didn't want to get their pictures taken. Finicky rabbits. Not to mention one is trying hard to let his neighbor chew his woolcap off- doh.

Keep's Rabbitry

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Murphy's Law of Rabbits

Well, my entries for the Greensboro show are in, a whopping hour before they were due! I'm so pleased with myself!

We're showing one lionhead, six mini lops and three jersey woolies. NONE of the hollands are in coat- the bucks are finishing molts, and any showable does are just starting theirs! DOH! Not to mention four very promising junior jersey woolies are molting out their baby coats. Don't get me wrong, this is exciting, but bad timing guys!

Murphy's Law of Rabbits:

*The babies you want to live the most will die.
*A GC doe will be the hardest to breed, have the fewest babies, and have the worst temper.
*A rabbit will always blow it's coat after you've sent in your entries.
*A rabbit in a molt will always come out of it after your entries were due.
*The color you want the most will never show up in the nestbox- even if there is a 50% chance you'll get it.
*When you want a doe, you're only gonna get buck babies.
*When you want a buck, you're only gonna get doe babies.
*That rabbit that couldn't buy a leg when you owned it will grand for the person you sold it to at an extremely discounted price.
*Likewise, the doe you couldn't get babies out of will have litters of 6+ for the person you solid her to at a discounted price.

Gotta love them!
Keep's Rabbitry

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Pet Buyer's Guide

Over the years I've sold quite a few pets- sometimes pure pet quality, other times brood or show that I couldn't hang on to any longer, or that the person wanted badly enough to pay brood or show price for.

I've encountered many of the same questions, so I've decided to answer them here, as well as place a section on my website with the same information.

Which makes the better pet? A boy or a girl?
I am of the opinion that a male rabbit makes the best pet. In my barn, time and again the bucks are the ones who are most likely to meet me at the door for head rubs. They are sweet, curious and in general more laid back than the females. When a female reaches maturity, her hormones go crazy and she can become aggressive. Each rabbit is different of course, but for a cut and dry answer, males tend to be the best pets.

What breed makes the best pet?
Ahhh! This one is hard- I know 90% of breeders think their rabbits are awesome pets! I've found, in general, mini lops tend to be the sweetest of the three breeds I have. Likewise, larger breeders are a little more cuddly and laid back. However, I've got a holland buck who licks my hand and a jersey wooley buck that plays "soccer" with me in his cage. Really, it depends on how much time was spent with them when they were younger. I know if I'm really busy and can't love the babies as much, they aren't as cuddly. Try to visit with the babies before buying one- that one that runs to the back is gonna be harder to win over than the one pushing to the front to lick you.

Can I litter box train it?
Yes! I've successfully litter trained a rabbit (and taught it to play hide-n-seek). The best method is to figure out which corner it likes to go potty in, and place a litterbox (with some hay in a corner) there. Scoop up a few poo balls (and we used a paper towel to sop up an accident and buried it under the litter) and place them artfully around the box (or dump them in there, I don't care :) ). This tells your rabbit "Hey- go potty here!". It's best to start litter training in the cage (even if it's a wire bottom). Slowly move to letting the rabbit out of the cage and in to a small area (one room or part of one room) and repeat the process- find the favorite corner and put a litter box there. Patience! Puppies don't potty train in a day, rabbits aren't going to either.

Should I get my bunny "fixed"?
It depends. If you have only one rabbit, it's not as necessary. Sometimes bucks will spray urine (I've seen does wanting to be bred do it too...), and neutering can help fix this problem (most of the time!). Having your rabbit altered can extend the life, especially in females. It may also head off the problem of her becoming aggressive when she hits puberty. If you want to have more than one rabbit live together, one or both will need to be altered for your greatest success rate.

What kind of cage should I get?
I prefer the wire bottoms, like the Wabbitats. They are much easier to clean, though you may want to sit it on a puppy pad, sometimes they back up too far and pee out the side on to the floor *on accident, of course*.

How much lettuce/carrots can I give my pet?
If it's under 6 months old- none. I do not give treats to babies, it can cause diarrhea or death. I prefer to be safe and wait until after 6 months old. Once your rabbit is old enough, go light on the carrots. They are extremely sugary (relatively anyway) and can lead to a weight problem. NEVER EVER EVER GIVE ICEBERG LETTUCE! Your rabbit should have dark greens such as romaine lettuce, kale and broccoli. As a rare treat, carrots, apples and raisins are nice. We also give papaya pills (the Walmart brand) occasionally- they think they are treats- little do they know it helps prevent wool block! Try to avoid processed store treats- they are nothing but sugar and junk.

Will my bunny get lonely? Should I get him/her a friend?
Hm. Well, if you want the rabbit to bond more closely to you than the bunny friend, I say no. IF you decide you do want a pair, I highly recommend one (and really both) be fixed. I have had unaltered females live together well in to a year. I had a pair of unusually laid back gals. Bucks, under no circumstances, should live together unaltered. I've seen siblings start fighting at 3 months of age! Your best bet for a pair of rabbits are a neutered buck and a spayed doe, or a pair of sisters that have been fixed. They don't HAVE to have a bunny friend.

Did you say your cat loves your bunnies? Doesn't she eat them?
Can you believe, I've heard stories about a BEAGLE who licked baby bunnies clean, and to help them use the bathroom when their own mom wasn't taking care of them? I've heard of an Australian Shepherd who is very protective over "his" bunnies. And yes, my cat loves rabbits- she grooms them and plays with them! (She got her butt kicked by a mean holland doe when she was 7 weeks old- she has a deep respect for ALL living things that belong to me- even the rat!)

The point is, yes, your rabbits can become friends with your other pets! HOWEVER do not just throw the rabbit into the middle of the living room and let your lab go to town sniffing. Make sure the rabbit is in a secure cage (I like to put it next to a wall, so their back is protected from probing cat paws). Make sure the rabbit has had time to get used to the new smells of the house, you, the water- everything! Then allow the pet, let's say a cat this time, into the room to visit the rabbit. There will be a lot of sniffing, probably a good deal of thumping- you never know. Once they get used to each other, you can open the door to the rabbit cage and let it hang out up close and personal- with supervision! Remember, take time, they usually aren't going to be best friends in 5 minutes, don't be afraid to string this out over days or weeks!

*Note* If your cat has a tendency to leave you dead things by the door, or your dog is a known squirrel menacer, you may need to be *VERY* slow and *VERY* cautious in introducing a prey animal to them!

I think that's about it! :)

Keep's Rabbitry

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Game Plan!

Get pumped! Whoop whoop- ....or sit at your desk giving the computer a strange look, you know, whichever is your preference. :D.

I've been thinking about our mini lops and I realized I need a more definitive game plan when it comes to breeding them.

With the Jersey Woolies, because of incompatible colors, I HAVE to be more forced in who I breed to who- for example, Mr. Chester, the chestnut gets NO dates with the shaded ladies. Likewise, Chester's REW son gets no dates with the shaded ladies, because more than likely he's hiding Agouti as well. Now, it's entirely possible for me to test breed him to a Shaded gal. I'll know any REW I get are probably agoutis, and when I look at the color on the non-REWS I will know if I got a shagouti (unshowable). Believe me, eventually I WILL be doing that cross :).

But with the mini lops, I don't really have the same concerns. To begin with I have no shaded minis. I've got a lynx buck, a chinchilla buck and a GT Steel buck (who is for sale). As Doe colors go, I've got a 3 Broken GT Steels (1 is for sale!), a GT Steel, an opal, and a chestnut.

I need to look over my girls and decide (and write down) what each one is lacking. For some, it's a better head and a little more in the HQ. Some need a better topline, or more depth. Width does NOT seem to be one of my problems, for which I'm grateful. Hey, something is better than nothing! I need to decide what the strengths of each of my bucks is- and I'm so lucky that I do have such nice bucks! Without a good herd buck or two, you're in major trouble.

I've lost some ground this summer, with the lack of being able to get babies, and the deaths of one of my litters of mini lops (including a blue chinchilla doe! *sigh*). My juniors are the best two from a litter of experimental breedings, and two junior does out of two GC parents, one of whom I am selling.

Do you sometimes wish you could fastforward a few generations? Take this doe who's so cute at 2 months, move her up to 6 months, breed her, take her babies, fast forward them to breeding age, put them with a different buck, etc, until you see what your end result is? I do. I'm excited for the possibilities in my herd. It's just getting there...and they say that's half the fun!

Keep's Rabbitry

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Mtn State Fair

"2" Was most definitely the number of the day! We met Malena too early, so our 2-car caravan rolled in to McDonalds. Marlee, Brendan & Tim chowed down while I talked about a mile a minute. After killing a little time there, we get to the Fair, and set up in these moveable metal goat pens- it was awesome. No one ended up right on top of you, you could watch all your things, wonderful!! We played teacher to some youth kids just starting, while Tim clipped rabbit toenails.

We got to see Fayth Young's little hound puppy- the cutest thing I've ever seen!

After a late start, we finally get in to showing- unfortunately the "2s" started up-

Keep's Ashe- Self (rew) jr JW, placed...yep...second. Good news is, she lost to an Erb baby, and it had a spectacular little body. The judge LOVED Ashe though, I think she might have won if her wool cap hadn't molted out.

Wooligans Arabella- Shaded Sr (today) JW- 2nd out of 2. She's going to be going in to the breeding program :).

Holland Lops:

Nature Trail's Miss Muffet- SSD-care to take a guess? Anyone? 2nd. *sigh* lost on flesh condition! Darn it, I was hoping she'd get her 2nd leg.

Keep's Flippa- SJD-........2nd lol.

Keep's Floppa (I had no names, get off my back :-p)- 3rd. But she was the 2nd of the 2 does I took lol. She's going to be available for sale as a brood doe, $30. *wink wink*

Mini Lops- doesn't even bear telling about, because there were only....2 exhibitors. Me & Tim. So yay for us, we won BOB & BOSB >.<

However, It was nice that a Keep's rabbit (Keep's Eve) won the BOB, not one of the ones we purchased! So that was pleasant.

I also brought home 2 lionheads. Don't ask- I completely blame Nita. And of course, they are torts lol.

I gave out- 2 business cards.

High point of my day? A lady who I sold a bunny to for her son (ML, he showed in youth) told me the judge said, and I quote "This doe is the closest I've ever seen to the true standard of perfection. She's beautiful".

So that lady's son won BOB with her and she told me she'd let me know how the doe does when it comes to the BIS judging, because we left early.

I'm also waiting to hear how Ashe's sister Maple did for Marlee in youth- when I was there, the judge LOVED her body, but of course, I had clipped Maple's wool because she was all matty, and she's about to get her sr coat. So Marlee, if that uneven wool in the back keeps Maple from winning, I'm SO sorry! lol

I'm exhausted, we got up at 5:30 this morning- but I've got to try to straighten the house a little, we have a mini lop buyer coming in from Atlanta, Georgia! :)

Keep's Rabbitry

Friday, September 7, 2007

Letting people visit your rabbitry

This is a much debated topic, believe it or not!

On one hand, most people want to see your set up and all your rabbits. Seems innocent enough, right? After all, they just want a pet, and you may be worried that they'll think something is fishy if you don't let them see your set up.

On the other hand, you're inviting a total stranger to your house. While they are there, not only can they look at everything sitting in your rabbitry, they can see what kind of lock you have, if the rabbitry is blocked from view by trees, etc. They may notice an expensive bike sitting outside that belongs to your child, your purebred dog (I know if people ask, I do admit my dogs are purebreds), etc.

I've heard many, many horror stories. People coming by "to look" at rabbits, deciding they'll come back later, etc. Next day, our breeder goes outside, notices the lock busted off the rabbitry, the door torn open, etc. They rush inside only to find a entire litter gone, or worse, rabbits running around the floor of the rabbitry to confuse the breeder- this way, they don't know WHO is gone yet.

We had a lady call to inquire about our pets when we still lived in Graham- and stupid, well-meaning Tim told her where we lived! I'm outside cleaning cages and packing bunnies up to go to a overnight show, and suddenly this strange woman shows up and comes in to the back yard!

I stop what I was doing and asked if I could help her, she said she called about bunnies....well Tim told me that lady just asked what we had, said "ok" and hung up the phone. No mention of visiting, asking to visit, anything, just wanting to know where we were located. Anyway, I show her what we have, and she happens to see a pair of mini lop babies fresh out of the nestbox- at a whopping 2 weeks old.

She wants the solid one. I told her no way and tried to herd her back to the 8 week olds I had for sale.

"Oh, but I had one smaller than that once! I got him from somebody and kept him in my pocket and hand fed him and he bonded to me!"

I looked her straight in the eye and said "Then you're extremely lucky because I've never successfully hand raised one. I won't sell one that young, these are the ones for sale", and pointed back in the direction of the "sale rabbit cages".

She left without buying anything, and since the bunnies were on a back porch with a crappy door & screen all around it, before we left we took EVERY mama with a baby(ies) and locked them in the house. I didn't know her, and I wasn't about to trust that she wouldn't come back and steal a baby I wasn't willing to sell.

Thankfully, she never came back and we never heard from her again.

Now that we are here in the parsonage, with a much more secure barn, my policy on visits has had to adapt a little. We get tons of church folks that just want to come and "visit" (*sigh* This is not a petting zoo, please don't poke the rabbits). We also have had several people want to buy pets. I'm more willing to trust someone that I see on a regular basis. So we do allow people to do supervised tours. However, sometimes folks drop by uninvited and bring friends.

This is NOT acceptable. I may know you, I don't know them, and I wasn't exactly planning on giving tours today, thanks. I really don't like bringing tons of people, it upsets the rabbits and it's harder to watch 4 kids than it is to watch one. I offered to let some kids give ONE rabbit hay, and the next thing I know there is hay all over the floor, crammed in half the cages (that we had just cleaned! ARGH) and I'm having to say "STOP!"

Mostly, if it's a non-church related sale, I try to give pictures of what we have available, then meet the person in a nice, neutral area, like a parking lot. Sometimes they can come to the house, but the rabbits are in carriers in the living room and I make no mention of where the rabbits live- for all they know, the rabbitry is located in the upstairs bathroom!

My preference is definitely to not have people visit my home. I'm a mildly paranoid person at best and not thrilled with the idea someone can come in and see everything we own- and we definitely don't have a Dodge Viper sitting out back and a solid gold toilet, if you see my meaning.

On the flip side, I LOVE having trustworthy rabbit breeders that I know come visit. I love visiting other people and seeing their set ups. It's all about trust. I don't trust someone I talked to on the phone for 5 minutes and I don't trust someone who emailed me twice with some amazing literary work such as "you still got em", no punctuation, no greeting, no name and no specification as to what "them" is. I've thought I've had GREAT rabbit homes lined up, only to meet the person and seriously regret my decision.

If you don't want someone to see your rabbits, I have several stories I tell, which are usually kind of true at the least.

"I have does about to kindle/with babies in the nestbox and I don't want to upset them". This is a good one. I usually DO have does about to kindle, though sometimes it may not be for another 3 weeks. I try only to trot this one out when it's true though, I don't like lying.

"There are a lot of crazy people out there, and I've heard too many stories to be comfortable allowing visitations". This is a good one too and completely TRUE!, though you may want to tone down the wording a little :). I try to let the person know that while I don't personally think THEY are a nut job, I make it an overarching policy. I also use this when explaining why I don't accept checks for rabbits. I've met some excellent pet people, but I've had too many bad ones to let every single person come to the rabbitry.

-Keep's Rabbitry

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Silly Bunnies!

I've got a few rabbits that are crazy. I mean this in a crazy-ha-ha way, not a crazy-*insert-cuckoo-noises-here*-way.

When Scout was my house bunny (before he started driving Tim nuts), I could let him out of his cage and run hide beside the couch. I'd call "Scout-y-poo" and he'd run around until he found me. I'd pet him, then go "hide" under the table in the dining room, call him, and here he came again! We always had the best time playing hide-n-go seek!

One oddity that Scout had, was every night at Midnight on the dot, he'd TEAR around the living room as fast as he could go 2 or 3 times, then flop over and rest in the middle of the floor. Every night. We have no idea why, or how he knew what time it was!

It cracks me up to think of Scout as a house bunny. Tim & I are both diehard UNC-Chapel Hill fans, and during a particularly upsetting basketball game, we'd smack the floor in frustration and get an echoing thump from Scout. I like to think he's a Tar Heel too. One memorable game, during 2005 when we won the national championship, things were looking bad. We were on the road to the Final Four, down with a few minutes left in the second half- I was having a heartattack, thinking my Tar Heels were about to blow it. I was laying belly down on the floor, when suddenly Scout LEAPS on to my back and settles down for a nice nap! I tried my best not to disturb his royal highness, in the face of watching a possible defeat, which turned in to a very exciting comeback! This meant no whooping, hollering, floor pounding, or anything. As soon as the game ended, Scout woke up and ran off- maybe it was his way of telling me I was disturbing him earlier?

I've got a few Hollands that like to play a practical joke that I refer to as "Ha Ha, I'm dead". They lay flopped out in their cages, on their side, breathing so shallowly you can't see a rise or fall in their sides. Blowing on them produces no movement, but if you stick a hand in the cage, JUMP! They are right up, giving you the stink eye. That's guaranteed to cause a pounding heart, shortness of breath, and sometimes bloody arms when I scrape them on the wire when I start. Thanks guys for that one.

The Woolies and Minis crack me up with their "jingly balls". Chester in particular has a nice wire cat toy with a small jingle bell inside it. I can't tell you how many times I've gone outside to feed that I find his plastic bowl floating in his water crock, the ball inside the food bowl. That's when he isn't pitching it through the J feeder hole in his cage, to land in Funky's hay rack below!

One of Chester's son's inherited his sense of humor. I can literally play soccer with this silly little guy. I use my hand to bat the ball to him, he picks it up and throws it back to me, back & forth we go!

Bunnies are the little clowns of the rabbit world. Give them something to pick up and throw around, stand back, and watch the fun!

Keep's Rabbitry

Sunday, September 2, 2007

How soon to show

I've had people ask me, "When should I start showing my rabbits?".

Well, that depends. There is no shame in showing a rabbit you bought from someone else! Especially if that rabbit is not granded out. In fact, every rabbit I sell, I sell knowing that I could potentially compete against it in the future, and that's fine!

In my opinion, you really start getting a feel for the breed when you show a rabbit. Get out your entry, check him over, maybe even write down anything you don't feel is "right" about him- like slipped crown, lacking a little in HQ, etc. Then, listen carefully as the judge goes over him. Were you right? Did you miss something big? Have other breeders go over the rabbit too.

I had some friends start out in mini rex. I was so excited for them! They bought 5 to go with the 2 they had from a different breeder. I would always ask "when are you going to show? Are you coming to the next show?" And I always got a no for an answer. They'd repeat back to me "oh the breeder said this one needs more depth, and her ears are longer...", but I noticed after time the list of the faults of the rabbits got smaller and smaller- they were forgetting what the breeder had said! Because they didn't study the standard and hadn't seen it put in to action on the top MR in our area, they didn't know what to look for! They had to rely solely on their memories of what the breeder said, and their memories got worse over time.

Now, this is to say I don't think you should jump in to showing at all! If lots of activity going on is liable to confuse you, go to a show just as a spectator! Meet a few people, try to make a few friends, and know what to expect before you show. Keep in mind though, NO ONE is going to think bad of you if you show a rabbit that doesn't have 3 generations of your prefixes behind it! Promise :).

Showing prior to breeding also helps you out on the breeding aspect. By knowing the complete faults of your rabbits, you can set up a more complete breeding plan to fix those faults. Also, if you buy a "lemon" from someone, or get a bad rabbit from the raffle (even though you may think it's cute), where it places can help you determine it's usefulness to your program- BEFORE you raise 6 of it's spawn to weaning age and plop them on the table :).

As always, this is just my humble opinion, but I think there is no better way to learn than to jump right in and show your rabbit! :)

Keep's Rabbitry