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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!


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.


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. 


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!


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.


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. 



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.