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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Big Changes

Well- we went out last night and Michelle and her family were so sweet- they purchased a new AC for us! Tim and I are planning on installing it today. It was such an awful thunderstorm last night that we would have literally been risking our lives to try to do it then. As soon as I get home, we're going to run out to get braces for the AC and then get to work on the installation part.

I also have finally switched feeds. Before the incident, I had set in to motion a plan to join a group of breeders who are shipping down PenPals rabbit feed. The check is in the mail and the feed is coming in Tuesday or Wednesday of next week!

Acccck, I'm so nervous. I hate changes, but I'm sick to death of losing half my feed to fines and I know the condition on my animals is better than Purina is showing.

We'll see though- if PenPals doesn't work, it will ruin the herd for Convention AND JW Nationals (if we're still around then). However, Brenda of Narrow Gate Farms is using it and her Hollands look incredible. So fingers crossed for me everyone!

Keep's Rabbitry

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


It's been a hard week.

However, there have been a few glimmers of happiness in the rabbitry. Keep's Epiphany kindled two healthy, chubby babies. She was bred to Keep's Heart Throb and is one of my Tryon daughters.

Keep's Smoke is nesting. She's a Smoke Pearl Point that I believe was bred to Keep's Panda. She isn't due until tomorrow (Wednesday).

I've decided I'm staying in rabbits at least until Convention. I already have plans to go, the room is booked, dinner dates are made- so I'm going.

This also gives me a chance to go to a few local shows, have some litters and just see how I feel about everything. They say "Time heals all wounds" so we shall see.

Meanwhile, we're concentrating on battling the high temperatures and high humidity that has characterized this awful summer. My friend Michelle gave us a fan (fully enclosed motor) that I have running in conjunction with our AC. We're headed out today or tomorrow to get a larger, portable AC unit with a much higher BTU rating. Frozen water bottles are on standby in our chest freezer.

Fiona is doing very, very well. She still isn't eating pellets, but she's devouring her hay and has discovered a love of Cheerios. I think she's grown tired of baby carrots, so I'm about to start reintroducing some banana. She's moving around well and was even grooming her back foot yesterday.

Keep's Rabbitry

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fiona Update

Yesterday morning, I made the hard call to put Fiona down. The night before, she had been grinding her teeth in pain and she had continually refused to eat and was barely drinking. It seemed like the only humane decision to make, but it was hard.

I had decided to wait until that evening, so I could give her a little time out on the grass (in the cool air) before I said goodbye- and I'm SO glad I waited.

Any time Fiona makes a sound, I look at her to see what's happened. Most of the time, it's just moving around her cage, but yesterday, she finally picked up a piece of alfalfa and was munching it. Struck with sudden excitement, I sliced off a tiny piece of frozen banana- and she ate it! She refused more later, but at least I had hope again.

We've been doing a rotation system of foods. I dip a baby carrot in her pedialyte and she eats it. Then she may not eat the next carrot. That's ok- she's got two bowls of pellets at varying heights, alfalfa hay in one corner and timothy in another, even a sugary junk food treat in her cage, just in case she decides she wants IT. I routinely offering another carrot or piece of banana and today I'm going to add fresh grass and clover to the mix.

She also drank way more of her pedialyte last night than she has since the incident. I haven't heard her grind her teeth recently either, which was the biggest of my concerns.

I'm being cautiously optimistic about her recovery. She will be a loved pet here no matter what else happens.

Keep's Rabbitry

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Small Miracle

My posts the past two days have been doom and gloom, but really, can you blame me?

To tell you this story though, I need to give you some background.

I bought a doe named Southlands Carson in Ohio. She's a huge, beautiful doe, solid black, who recently had her first litter- bred to Tryon. She kindled 3 pointeds and a black baby. She has pulled herself so bald she has only a "racing" stripe of wool along her spine. She is 100% bald on the rest of her body.

In the incident, when checking nestboxes, we found one of the pointeds and the black baby dead. One of the other pointeds was out in the cage and is fine. We never found the fourth baby and it was assumed that it had passed away before the incident and "disappeared" as sometimes happens.

I moved the pointed baby in with Keep's Bahama's litter, which is only a little younger and gave Carson a baby that was only a few days old. (That is a long story in and of itself).

Now, on to the miracle.

We were feeding and watering yesterday. Carson is in a bottom cage in the corner of the rabbitry. I squatted down to fill her J feeder when a tiny little head thrust itself out of the waste pan at me!

It was the fourth baby, the one presumed dead! It was hanging out in the tray under her water bottle. When I came over, it ran out to me. I picked it up and noticed that it has just opened it's eyes!

The poor little guy was chattering at me all the way to Bahama's cage to be reunited with it's sibling. I think it wanted me to know just what it went through.

I'm entirely shocked that it's still alive and in such good shape! It was hungry of course and a bit dehydrated, but otherwise- wow. I'm hoping it will make it, but it's definitely a fighter!

Keep's Rabbitry

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Trying to Heal

Again, I want to thank everyone for the words of encouragement. I won't be able to thank you all individually, but every word means so much to me.

I'm doing a little better today. The tears still come, often at random times, but at least they aren't the gut-wrenching sobs from yesterday.

Fiona is doing better than she was yesterday. I'm still keeping a close eye on her and she's living in the house right now. She's drinking on her own- I have her bowl filled with homemade pedialyte. Apparently it tastes delicious, because I caught one of my cats dipping his paw in the bowl to get himself a taste.

My barn has AC. That's a misleading comment, because the AC is not there to get the rabbits cold. It's there to keep them alive. I kept it turned on to keep the temperature bearable in the hot summer months. On days in the spring, fall, and winter when it's cool outside, the AC went off and the windows were opened to allow the breeze to flow through the rabbitry.

The barn I have isn't my first option on how I'd like to keep the rabbits. Unfortunately, because Tim is a pastor, we move around a lot. There are certain standards I have to maintain in the barn- it's physical appearance for one and the ability to move it for another. The other option, building something cheap, usually violates the physical appearance rule. Our house is not our own.

Thus, this is why we have the barn we have and the AC to keep the temperature from being overwhelming. I was careful to stress to Tim I always wanted to make sure the rabbits didn't become too dependent on AC. I didn't want to worry about them not being able to handle the heat of a summer show and I didn't want them to have problems when they went to a new rabbitry. I could put at least another stacker and another row of cages on top of the existing stackers in the barn, but I haven't because I was worried that it would just contribute to the heat in the building. Not to mention warm air rises and sitting just under the rafters would be uncomfortable in all circumstances, but deadly in the summer particularly.

Unfortunately, I made a mistake with the AC that led to the death of the rabbits. I've always thought the way the dial is set on a lot of them was stupid. I was running late for work, I thought I clicked the dial to "high cool". Instead, it was on "low fan". That led to high temperatures in the rabbitry. Even without the AC, if both windows had been open, I think I would have lost some animals. It was a very hot day and the only shade for the rabbitry is what we've manufactured ourselves.

I'm at a loss now about what to do. I could find someone to cut and install more windows and try to completely move away from the AC, but there is still no shade. I could buy a bigger AC, but in the case of a power outage or human error, that's not a lot of help. I could sell out.

All my options are on the table right now. I've just got decide what to do and what we can afford to do.

I'm blessed in that there are so many Tryon offspring in my barn I can't name them all- I find myself looking with surprise at a pedigree and seeing his name yet again. I've got multiple G.C. bucks that are his sons and others that are his nephews. He can live on through them, but it's just not going to be the same. I can't even bring myself to close the door to his cage, but the sight of it sends me in to tears.

Keep's Rabbitry

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

If I Die Young...

If I die young,
Bury me in satin,
Lay me down on a bed of roses,
Sink me in the river at dawn,
Send me away with the words of a love song.

Sometimes it feels like the world is screaming at you, but you don't know what it means. My favorite radio station played the above song "If I Die Young", a country song by The Band Perry 5, times from my 8:30am commute to work, until I arrived back home at 2:30.

At 4:30, I went outside to check on the rabbits and found a horror that I know is going to haunt me. I don't even want to describe it here. It's actually only in a lucid (I should say numb from the pain) moment that I'm even able to blog right now.

I had a massive heat-stroke outbreak in my barn. It claimed 13 lives, including Keep's Cupid and Keep's Tryon. I lost six Tryon babies, all nestbox age, along with various juniors of great promise and varying age. As I write this now, Keep's Fiona is struggling for her life.

I don't know what the future of Keep's Rabbitry will be. Tryon was the heart of it all. We buried him underneath our Willow tree, with four of his lost babies. I don't think he would have minded, he always loved his babies.

I clipped a lock of his wool and placed it in one of his BOB trophies- the one he's pictured with at the top of the post. It's a poor way to pay tribute to a little bunny that meant the world to me, but I couldn't bear to let him go without some physical reminder of him.

Keep's Rabbitry

I'm Out of Bubblegum

There is a quote from the 1988 movie They Live. I'm going to edit it a slight bit for language, but it goes something like this: "I'm here to kick butt and chew bubblegum...and I'm all out of bubblegum."

The hardest thing for people outside of the rabbit show world to understand is I do not breed for profit. I do not breed to sell rabbits. I breed to "kick butt". I breed my animals to conform as closely to the ARBA Standard of Perfection as I can get.

Sometimes, I get animals that are of pet temperament and do not conform closely enough to the standard that I care to sell them pedigreed, or the animals have the misfortune of being of brood and show quality in a time of no shows or no transport. In that case, other arrangements are made to move out the excess stock.

In short- I'm breeding to kick butt. I'm not breeding to supply the pet owner population, or to stock someone else's barn. Do I always kick butt? No. Do I often sell nice stock to outside barns? Of course! It's just that MY grand plan is to have kick butt rabbits. Everything else is incidental.

Keep's Rabbitry

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Weaning Day

After having moved out five rabbits, I've got SIX empty cages (I already had one)! Well you know how I am- empty cages are just a challenge!

I weaned three litters. I also moved my tort doe back in to the rabbitry. She has a prime spot right next to the air conditioner, so hopefully she won't have any more problems with the heat.

I sexed all the kits, since I did the weaning. I've got a black doe and broken black doe in one litter, a tort doe and a siamese sable doe in the second and a sable point doe and a siamese sable buck in another- actually, it's funny, I just realized I have TWO litters that fell out that way, both in color and genders!

Keep's Encore kindled today. She had three babies, but only one made it. It figures that it's going to be a POINTED! ARGH! I moved it in to Bahama's litter. I'll give Encore another week to rest up and she'll be rebred. Now that I finally have her going, I don't want to give her a chance to be difficult again! She'll get a nice long break after this next breeding.

I've still got a few litters to wean coming up. Then it will be time to choose my keepers out of the older litters. It's a never ending cycle of weaning days, but it makes me so happy. I don't think I'll ever forget the tough time I had getting babies from my hollands, so I try not to complain about my very fertile woolies! :D

Keep's Rabbitry

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Might As Well Breed...

The temperatures have been ridiculous so far this summer. Happily, we've hit a patch of normal temps and it is beautiful outside!

I've got several does that need to be bred or rebred. I fear that the heat will have made my bucks sterile, but since the weather has been nice a few days, I decided to go on and give them a try. I might as well, right? The worst that can happen is that they don't take and I'm in exactly the same situation as if I had waited to breed them.

I suspect I do have at least one pregnant doe though- I had forgotten I bred her and tried to rebreed- she was NOT happy and was very vocally protesting. I pulled her out and rechecked my calendar and DUH- right there it was, plain as day. She's due at the end of the month. Luckily, the second buck didn't catch her.

The rabbits have been loving this cooler weather. I'm able to turn their AC off at night and leave the windows open. It serves a duel purpose- it helps keep my power bill a little lower and it circulates fresh cool air through the building. I think they appreciate that!

Keep's Rabbitry

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It worked!

Forcing Bahama to deal with TWO nestboxes has worked! She finally chose the right-hand side one and has pulled half her wool out. Now I'm just waiting on babies.

We had a mess this morning. I woke up around 6:00am to find the power wasn't working. It didn't come back on until 9:30 and there is no telling how long it was out before I woke. Luckily, I had turned off the rabbitry AC and opened the window last night so they could take advantage of the cool air after the thunderstorm. It was warm in there by the time the power came back on, but nothing they couldn't handle- and it was much better than it would have been if that window had been shut!

I rebred a doe yesterday. I'm not holding my breath that it will take, since it's been SO hot lately, but I'm hopeful. I chose the buck closest to the AC, so he has the best chance of not being heat sterile.

I have a black tort junior doe and a black junior doe (littermates) that are 9 weeks old available. I have FIVE does in that litter, so I am trying to pick just three to grow out. I hate doing this, because it's an absolute crapshoot- there is no telling what the girls will grow up to look like. They are out of W.O.'s Flirt and Keep's Tryon. I'm advertising them as pets, but will also let them go with pedigrees as a "take a chance" purchase. They must be picked up quickly though, I can't hold them until the next show, otherwise I'd just grow them out myself!

Keep's Rabbitry

Friday, June 10, 2011

More Babies!

After several not viable litters, Southland's Carson kindled 4 babies this morning! She's a first time doe that I bred at 5 1/2 months old. So far, she's doing a great job! She made a beautiful nest for her kits and seems to be taking good care of them.

I'm still fighting Bahama. She doesn't want to put her nest in a nestbox. I solved that problem by moving her to a 18 x 24 cage and putting TWO nestboxes in the back, side by side. Now she literally has no choice but to build her nest in one of them. As soon as she kindles, I'll remove the other box and put her back into a larger cage.

I've decided to permanently cut down the number of holes I have. This means in the near future I'll have some cages and some animals for sale. I also have a ton of babies that I'm going to have to sell earlier than I like to! I just can't keep them all to grow out, blah!

I'm really, really pleased with some of my juniors that are coming up. I look forward to being able to put them on the table, because WOW!

Keep's Rabbitry

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Feels like the first time...

I was on the verge of running late for work this morning, but something told me to swing by the rabbit barn. One thing I've learned over the years is that when the little voice screams at you, you need to listen.

It's a good thing I did.

Keep's Cupid kindled two babies. One was in a poorly made nest, where she had dug through the hay until she hit the wooden floor. There he was, none too warm, but alive. The more pressing concern to me was his sibling. It was lying on the FLOOR of the rabbitry. My first thought was "Oh no...".

I was sure he was dead.

I reached down to pick up the little corpse and it wiggled a little as I approached it. When my hand touched it, it jerked it's head up and started nosing me. Anyone that has had baby bunnies knows exactly what I'm talking about. "You're not mom, but maybe you're going to feed me anyway?"

I rebuilt the nest and put the pair together. Cupid jumped in to investigate the new nest immediately. I hope she doesn't undo my handiwork! However, with temps slated to hit 95 again today, even if she does they will hopefully be fine until I get home and can check on them. I cleaned up a stray piece of placenta in the cage and went to check the other ladies.

BL's Jiggy had one DOA baby. She's finally settled, I've been trying for quite a while to get a litter out of her. She goes back to Keep's Durham, so she should mesh very easily in to my lines. Now that she's kindled once, I'm hoping the next time for a nice fat litter.

Keep's Bahama, the rotten girl, has pulled all her hay out of her nestbox and built a ridiculously thick nest on the wire in the opposite corner. Siiiigh. I removed it, restuffed her box and moved it to her preferred corner. Hopefully she gets things right! She's usually a great mom (and throws super cute kits).

No one else has kindled yet.

I swear, each litter feels just like the very first one. I'm always sad to see peanuts, I hate to see DOAs and I'm thrilled to death with each new baby. Even in a situation where I'm overflowing with healthy, beautiful litters, it never gets old! I still absolutely love the first time the babies run to the cage door to great you. I love posing up a 4 month old and your jaw dropping because the ugly duckling exceeded your wildest hopes. I love turning to Tim and showing him a 2 week old, exclaiming "We've got eyeballs!"

Each litter reminds me of that first one- a little blue Holland Lop baby named Solitaire.

Keep's Rabbitry

Saturday, June 4, 2011


I have the sweetest black otter buck ever. He's a brood quality, but I am hoping I'll be able to place him in a pet home. He is the most gentle, lovey little creature ever.

It's hard not to get attached to the "pet personality" rabbits. Why is it that it seems the show bunnies are never fall-all-over-themselves-lovey, but the brood or pet quality can't get enough of you?

Before anyone emails me saying "oh but my buck with 165 legs is the sweetest animal..." yeah- I know it happens. I'm just saying.

One of the biggest obstacles for me, as a breeder, is that it's hard to not be able to keep a rabbit just because I want to. It has to be able to contribute to the herd, or I can't justify the feed and cage space it takes up. That being said, I do have three pets, all of other breeders (a mini lop, a neutered mix breed and a netherland dwarf). However, the nethie lives in the house, Tim retired the mini lop and put him under his "protection" (aka, I am not allowed to rehome him) and I kind of owe it to the mix breed, since he started my rabbit obsession as an adult.

With three pets already, I can't let myself keep a black otter (I'm not wanting to get bogged down in otters) of my only competition breed. Sigh.

Anyone want a sweet pet? He'll charm your socks off in 30 seconds flat, or feel free to return him :).

Keep's Rabbitry

Thursday, June 2, 2011

National Doughnut Day!

Tomorrow, Friday June 3rd, is National Dougnut Day!

You can go to participating Krispy Kreme locations and get a FREE doughnut! No purchase is necessary!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Scorching... Summer? Heat.

Wow, June 1st and we're already talking about deep summer heat?

It's been awful in the South the past few days. I'm happy this heat held off until after the Taylorsville show, but UGH!

I've had two does really have a hard time coping with the 95+ degree temps. Over 55% humidity is turning this weather in to a disaster waiting to happen. Despite doing everything we can, yesterday I found one girl drooling and the other sluggish. Some quick work brought them back and we're taking special precautions with them, as they have seen to be hit the hardest. It looks like everyone will survive another day.

I'm sure all my bucks are heat sterile at this point. I'm glad I have the litters I have and any open does were bred already! I put off breeding two and it's probably too late now. Ahhh well! As long as everyone makes it through this heat wave, I'll be happy!

Keep's Rabbitry