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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!


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Taylorsville Night Show

We had an excellent Night Show! It was cool, which was nice.  It can be worrisome showing in the summer and I have canceled a few shows in the past because I worried the heat would be too much for the bunnies.

Keep's Merlin and Keep's Cold Shoulder are the latest in a long line of Grand Champion woolies! This was their first time out as seniors and I'm so proud of both of them.

Keep's Rue won her first Best Opposite Sex of Breed at exactly 10 weeks old! I believe this show will give her two legs, as she also placed BOSG in the second show.

Keep's Tribute earned another leg for his Best of Breed win in the second show! He earned two at this show as well. 

It was a great day as far as results- several bunnies earned legs to add to their growing pile and the little junior girls did me proud!

I was able to move out a group of bunnies- I hope their new owners are pleased with them and they do well for them!  I wasn't able to bask in empty cages long, as I had babies that needed to be weaned from their mamas.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

As you are enjoying those fireworks tonight, remember your bunnies. 

A Radio on in the barn can help keep the rabbits from stressing during the booms of fireworks and the whooping and hollering of any nearby neighbors.

Having corn on the cob?  Save those husks and feed them to your rabbits for a fantastic treat! Remember to feed in moderation and check to make sure there is no mold on it.  Corn husks, if kept damp, mold in a shockingly short amount of time.

If you have the heat we typically associate with July here in the South, add frozen water bottles or frozen tiles to the cages.  Relief from the heat keeps your rabbits healthy and happy.  I also recommend freezing bananas, peel and all.  Chunks of this treat keeps your animals cooler and makes sure they get nutrition (as many go off feed in extreme heat)- plus it's a nice thing to do for them.

Are there bonfires or poor air quality from lots of grilling around?  If possible, I like to close up the barn to keep the air clean for the rabbits.  Depending on the heat and other factors, this may not be possible.   Just remember, keep any fires well away from the barn!

Enjoy your 4th of July!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Show Weekend

Show Season is winding down! I had my last show of the "Sweeps Year" on Saturday.  There were some familiar faces missing, but we still managed to have a very good time.

In Show A, under Judge Jay Hreiz, Keep's Panda took BOB!  Joni won BOSB with one of her lovely blue does, I think it was Vala, but I could be wrong.  The consistency of her self does is so crazy it is hard to tell them apart!

Judge Don Sheets chose for Best In Show and told me that Panda was his 3rd choice- he lost out on RIS because of a little finish.  Dang it!

In Show B, Keep's Orion, a Panda son, took BOB and Keep's Catching Fire took BOSB!

I managed to sell all the rabbits I brought with me- three does, and find a pet home for a retired show buck of mine.   Of course- I brought home a buck and a doe, both Keep's rabbits that are returning home, as well as borrowed a doe from a friend.  This poor little lady keeps having dead litters, so we are hoping that a change to her environment will help her conceive a live litter.

I spent a good chunk of show B writing for Don Sheets.  He was great, explaining to me what he looks for in various breeds and even letting me put my hands on several of the rabbits.  He also went over one of the Florida White does with me and showed me a few "posing tricks". 

Overall, it was a wonderful show.  The NCRBA Youth put it on and they did such an amazing job!


Friday, June 14, 2013

My worst nightmare

Yesterday, a terrible fear of mine came to pass.

I walked outside with the dogs, in to the balmy, still air and thought "uh oh- this looks like tornado weather."  As the thought crossed my mind in the eerie yellow light, a blast of wind came out of nowhere and slammed me. Trees bent at unnatural angles, leaves went flying and I started to panic a bit.

As I was calling in the dogs, who naturally didn't want to come in like they are trained to because they just got outside, whine whine, the rain started.  It went from zero to violent downpour instantly and the drops were literally painful as they hit me.

Then it started.  Flicker, flicker.  Off.  On.  Flicker, flicker- off.  On.  We lost and regained power three times in five minutes, before finally it turned off.

No power? In summer? On a 90+ degree day? 

Oh no...what about the rabbits.

The storm lasted minutes. Literally perhaps ten minutes of violent downpour, then another ten of light rain and it was over.  The power outage lasted well in to the early morning, however.

Tim and I had to feed via flashlight.  The rabbits were on edge because their beloved radio wasn't working and the thunder and heavy rains from earlier had really shaken them up.  The air in the barn was warmer than I like to keep it, though thankfully the storm had cooled the outside temperatures down somewhat.  I say somewhat, because it was hardly a comfortable temperature, but at least it was no 90 degrees!

Thankfully, we were here when the power went out, but it has always been a fear of mine that the bunnies would lose AC in the midst of the summer heat and we would be out of town for the week or weekend.

Also thankfully, as you may have gathered from this blog post, we have our power back on.  The bunnies are all fine, we did checks on them every little bit until the sun went down and temperatures dropped further.

I am just thankful this all happened while we were at home and happened later in the day.  It could have been deadly had it been in the dog days of August or if we had been out of town.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Silver Linings

Sometimes, raising rabbits is all about the silver linings.

Keep's Tequila Mockingbird aborted her litter of three today- they were due on the 16th.  She tried to starve herself to death for the first two weeks of her pregnancy, so I'm happy that she is even alive.  That's not the only silver lining in the sad discovery I made today.

Tequila has had a very hard time conceiving- by hard time, I mean she has never before become pregnant and she is nearing a year old.  Even though this litter didn't survive, it proved that she can get pregnant- and gives me hope that her next attempt will end in a wiggling litter.

Sometimes that is how you have to look at it.  Every dead, stretched litter, like Keep's Lovesong's, means that she was able to pass the kits successfully- no stuck kits, no toxic babies that will take her life.

Raising rabbits, or any animal, isn't always about the successes.  Sometimes, it's about the failures that weren't as bad as they could have been.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Natural Treats for Rabbits

Rabbits love treats- especially the sugary, expensive kind you can buy in pet stores.  Yogurt treats, seed treats, flavored wood treats- well maybe not the flavored wood treats so much, but they are like people- the worst the treat is for them, the more they want it.

Rabbits also enjoy a wide variety of healthier options as well though.  To treat your pets or your herd, you can cut up small slices of apple and share it around!  Bananas are well received in my barn, peel and all.  Clover and fresh grass is always a good option.

Did you know that rabbits love tomatoes?  It never occurred to me, though I know wild bunnies sometimes get in to our summer gardens and have a field day.  You have to watch feeding the tomatoes though, they can definitely stain coats and faces!  One of my pet woolies actually went off feed for a day or two because she was waiting to get more tomatoes and turned her nose up at pellets.

Sunflower seeds are a good treat and actually are an ingredient in several homemade conditioning mixes. 

My rabbits enjoy yogurt.  You have to make sure not to get any "lite" yogurts- nothing with aspartame or any kind of fake sugar, because that is toxic to rabbits.  They don't get this nearly as often as they would like because it is messy and time consuming to share it around.

They also love strawberries.  Unfortunately for them, I also love strawberries, so they have to make due with a strawberry top or two every once in a while.  These also can stain faces and fur!

It's amazing how many treats rabbits will eat that are outside the "norm" of carrots.  However, you have to make sure to feed in moderation and monitor how they eat their regular feed.  Several of my show team can't be given treats because they go off feed and it's not worth it to have them lose the condition.


Monday, May 27, 2013

New Beginnings

On May 26th, Keep's Cat Call gave me five beautiful babies!  Cat Call is a sable point and the sire, Keep's Bump It Up, is a siamese sable.  I'm thinking that four of the five a sable points! Eeeek!  Cat Call did a fantastic job with her nest this time, I think she finally has it figured out.

Today, Sky's Eve kindled some lovely little Florida White babies.  Eve is an excellent mother and I know she'll take great care of her babies.  I was tickled that she had them on our anniversary!

The last new beginning at Keep's rabbitry comes for a little buckling.   Coco Puff went to his new home today, where he will be living very happily with a little girl who has done her research and waited patiently for the perfect little bunny to come her way.  Coco is going to be absolutely spoiled rotten.

It has been a day of new beginnings all around.  More beautiful babies to enjoy and saying goodbye to one little guy who is starting his new life as a loved pet.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Typing Juniors

I spent a pleasant hour after the single show I attended (well it was a double, I only stayed for Show A) going over the upcoming juniors in the barn.  It's funny, I have a ton of little babies (still with mama) and quite a few almost-senior-juniors, but the inbetween age I only have a few.

First up was DayDreamer's litter- looks like two bucks and a doe.  The tiniest buck is going to be a pet for a little girl who has been waiting patiently for one from me.  Because he's so tiny, I think he will fit the bill perfectly!  The other brother I plan to grow out- he has a beautiful body, but I'm not so sure about those ears.  He's right in the uglies age, molt and all, so I am trying to ignore them for right now.  When measured, they are still small!  The only doe in the litter is going to be a big brood doe- figures! I'm not sure if I will keep her or not.  Her mom is a brood doe, but I'm sorely lacking in does right now.  We shall see how she develops.

I checked on Puzzle's foster baby, the broken black doeling out of Rumor Has it and Panda.  Ouch.  Talk about a disappointment.  She is a rare doeling out of Panda.   Maybe Panda is just a "buck-sire", because all his boys do pretty well on the table.  This girl- very wide spread ears and a distinct lack of HQ.  She's all 'tude too! Her full brother, different litter, just beat Panda for a BOG (as a junior) today and has shown very well so far- meanwhile this little girl is...meh at best.  Since she is also heading in to uglies, I'll see what the next few weeks bring.

Snickers' doeling (Keep's Kit Kat)- the one that was sheared down by her Florida White foster siblings, is developing beautifully!  Her topline is amazing and the density to her coat is just beautiful. Unfortunately, since she's still growing everything back, that's all I really know right now.  I'd like to see a little more width, but hey, it could easily come in with time, especially since her parents are both nice animals.  I can't wait to see her continue to bloom!

That's really about it.  I've got my eye on a few upcoming babies, one or two in particular that I can't wait to evaluate.   That is really what rabbit breeding is about, isn't it?  Appreciate this generation, but always have your eye on the next one.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Out of the comfort zone-

Joni at Lyle Creek Rabbitry did a blog recently where she spoke of how rabbits have helped her come out of her comfort zone.

I have to admit, this past weekend we both really took a flying leap out of those comfort zones!

We planned to go to the Knoxville, TN show.  I was bummed about missing Nationals and it was the only show within a reasonable distance.  I won't be able to make Columbia, SC next weekend, so I though, why not.

We planned to go with some other friends, but on Wednesday they had to cancel.  While I totally understand why they canceled, Joni and I were a little disappointed to cancel our plans.  Tim had a meeting and wouldn't be able to drive me to the show.

Then I had an idea.  A bit of a scary idea, but hey- I figured why not throw it out there.

I would drive the 2 hours to Joni's house, then let her drive my car a bit over 2 hours towards Tennessee.  As we got closer to the city, I would then take back over and do the city driving, since she hates that part.

Joni agreed and so we undertook the trip, driving a state away by ourselves.  It doesn't seem like a big deal, but hey, we were pretty proud!

Keep's Knight and Keep's Merlin both took BOSBs.  They are little black junior bucks, born a day apart to two different groups of parents- I don't think they are related in any way.  I am pretty proud of the way they keep going back and forth on the tables.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rain, Rain, Go Away

The poor rabbits- they haven't seen sunshine in almost 2 weeks.  While we are all enjoying the cooler temperatures this May, it would be so nice to get that beautiful sunshine out! 

The cooler weather is keeping some funky coats on  bunnies that very much need to molt.  However, it is helping poor Panda put a coat back on! He started webbing as his dead coat was refusing to drop off, so he and I had an intense several grooming sessions.  He's only now starting to not look like a poor little homeless ragamuffin.

Keep's Fiona kindled today.  She was so overdue that when I entered the successful birth in to my pedigree software, it popped up saying "This is more than 5 days past the due date.  Are you sure you entered it correctly?"  I definitely did, and her one little baby is as large as those that were born on their correct due date. Gotta love the challenges of the bunnies.

I did some rebreeding recently.  I am excited to see the new babies.  Meanwhile the most recent weanings have left me with absolutely no cage space.  Every time I move a rabbit out, it seems like a litter is being weaned! Accck!

I am hoping everyone else has had the kind of litter luck I have! Even though there were some dead babies, every doe bred gave me at least 1 live kit.  I evaluate feed and the health of the herd based on conception rate and 100% definitely makes me happy.  I also got a first time doe started and a doe who was having trouble conceiving started back up!  Hooray!

So far, it has been a successful May :).


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Out with the old, in with the new-

I had a 100% conception rate  this last breeding.  Ok, so it was only a set of three does, but all of them kindled!  I now have 7 new babies in the barn, with more on the way.  This isn't including the three that are close to opening their eyes, or the ones still with their moms!

With all the juniors I am growing out and the new babies born, it occurs to me that it is time to do a herd reduction- if nothing else, so I have somewhere to put all these babies.

I'm happy that all of the Florida White babies will be gone in the next few days.  This will be good timing, since the senior doe, Eve, has been rebred!

I dislike having to move out the senior animals- often I wish I could keep them "just for one more litter".

I find that right now, I have too many bucks.  More importantly, too many half sibling bucks! It's time to make some decisions.  I can't keep them all, after all.

Oh well, perhaps some day the sun will come back, the days will warm up (it is May, isn't it?) and I will get out there and finalize my sales list.  Someday.

Until then- maybe there is time for just one more litter...


Monday, April 22, 2013

More babies!

Keep's Rumor Has It had FIVE babies on 4/20!  Unfortunately, one died for no reason that I can tell and one is a peanut, which leaves her with three healthy agouti babies.  I can handle that! It's a great number for a litter.

On 4/21, Keep's Cat Call finally got it right and had her litter in the nestbox.  Unfortunately, one of her babies didn't make it.  The other, a sable point, has been fostered over to Rumor.

It looks like Keep's Catching Fire missed this round.

The next set of babies aren't due until next week. I am hoping to stay with the 66%+ conception rate that this mini round gave me!


Monday, April 8, 2013

Now that's over...

Whew, now that Easter is "over", things (ie sales) can get back to normal in the rabbitry.

I let Tim take one of the "old man" retirees to the Easter Egg Hunt at one of the churches- Cairo was a HUGE hit! He sat on laps for pictures and posed right up. I guess he misses the show table, but he definitely loved all the attention he got. Spoiled rotten boy.

I have been taking advantage of the warm weather- nearly all the does have been bred! If they all take and produce, this is going to leave me in a bind for space, but that just means I'll have to make some tough decisions on who stays and who goes.

Tim's Florida Whites are doing well- I weaned the doe, Eve, away from her litter of 5.  We've sexed them and it appears we have 3 girls and 2 boys! They are for sale now, all proceeds go to helping us get them to Haiti.

A friend of ours in youth, Sarah Lemons, is joining us in working with the Haiti Project.  She will be getting her florida whites at the end of the month.  I am so excited that there will be a wider pool of genes available, without me having to sacrifice my entire barn to them! :)


Monday, March 25, 2013


The NCRBA State Show was this weekend- and wow, what a weekend.

To start it off, Saturday in Show A Joni finally was awarded her very first wooly Best of Breed! AND she got Best Opposite of Breed with another homebred.  I have to say, I was shocked that there were no tears.  I probably would have cried- she's worked so long and hard for the "big one" and to get it at a state show out of 70 woolies....sweet! :)

As we were waiting on results of Show A, the Youth President and Vice President handed Kitty Lynch and me a lovely red rose and a card.  How sweet are they?

"Thanks so much, you were more than kind.  People like you aren't easy to find"
In Show B, we were finally able to beat Joni.  Keep's Catching Fire was awarded Best of Breed.  Helen McKie took BOSB.  It was so funny, as the two does the judges were debating between were a shaded doe (mine) and an agouti doe (Helen's).  The BOSB debate was over a shaded buck (mine) and an agouti buck (Helen's).  It makes you feel really good to know that you're producing animals that are so similar to others you are admiring as you watch the judging.
Keep's Catching Fire

Joni and I helped grade youth royalty tests for a few hours.  It is amazing the knowledge the kids have!

On the second day, I woke up feeling fairly terrible, a theme that continued through out the day.  Joni won her second BOB in Show C, proving that when it rains, it pours (good things, in the case.)  Tresia took BOSB.  In show D, which occurred quickly on the heels of Show C, things went a little differently.   Keep's Tequila Mockingbird took BOB, and Deidre took BOSB.

Keep's Tequila Mockingbird
I felt so terrible that I didn't stay for BIS judging on the second day.  I wish I had, but you know- you do what you can do and I think I made the right decision.

It was a wonderful show overall, as it usually is. Keep's Cold Shoulder picked up a few junior legs (he won several group or opposite wins), while Troublemaker and Poplar padded their leg count.  Keep's Merlin, a little black junior buck was raved over, as was Keep's Vodka, a shaded junior doe.  I can't wait to see them as seniors.

I wasn't able to show as many rabbits as I would have liked (mostly juniors) because of the costs of entries ($4 each and there were 4 shows!), but there wasn't a single rabbit I felt that I should have left home of the ones I brought- I call that a success :).


Monday, March 18, 2013

Baby Bunny time

I am pleased to announce we had some successful litters this weekend!  Of four does bred, Keep's Rumor kindled one broken black and Keep's KKA kindled 4 healthy shadeds.  Keep's Cat Call kindled four of her own, but unfortunately chose to build her nest in the corner opposite of her nestbox.  While she pulled a ton of wool, the babies unfortunately didn't make it.

I am still waiting on Keep's Pakhet, who I suspect was the only one of the first round to miss.

Due any day now is Keep's Love Song, Keep's Puzzle, Lyle Creek's Violet and Keep's Tequila Mockingbird.    Love Song, Violet and Tequila are all first timers. 

I am hoping someone else kindles! I'd very much like to foster Rumor's baby off, but don't want to give it to KKA, who has four of her own and is a first timer as well.  Likewise, I'd rather not take one of KKA's kits and give to Rumor, since I am planning on moving her out soon and would like to breed her to someone else, rather than spend the next 2 months watching her raise a singleton, or having her work as a foster mother.


I just found out from Tim that Keep's Puzzle kindled today! Hooray! Tim thinks she has two, and if that is the case, I can easily foster Rumor's singleton to Puzzle!

Now just waiting on the other ladies :).


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Saying Goodbye

I surprised myself- I really did.

I let Keep's Epiphany leave the barn.

I never thought it would happen- in fact, I was pretty sure that she would live out her life here with me.  That was the plan anyway.  I'd retire her and retire Keep's Fiona, then bond the two girls and let them live out their lives together.

Instead, Epiphany kept producing- she had a litter of 5 that just recently were weaned.  She has been bred to pretty much all my bucks, and yet it was obvious she has production life left- she did such a great job taking care of those babies and she really seems to love having them around.

I happened to get an email from a person requesting to know what I had for sale and Epiphany popped in to my mind.  Why not let my girl go benefit another herd, rather than leaving her to stay in a cage here in the barn, unused.   Before I could change my mind, I fired off a reply, listing the animals I had for sale- Epiphany's name on the list.

This weekend Keep's Epiphany, Keep's Romeo (shaded sr. buck) and Keep's Thorax (broken jr. buck) left for their new home.   I know it's silly, but I'm happy those three went together.  It was hard to see Epiphany leave- she was a Tryon daughter and had a chunk of legs to her name.  I snuggled her one last time and then let her go.   It helps to know she's going to a home where she will be well taken care of and loved.

Keep's Delphi, a black junior doe, also found a great new home this weekend.

I also was able to deliver Keep's Flo Rida (not my name LOL), a florida white doe who is the beginning of my friend April's Florida White breeding program.

It was nice to come home to some empty cages, but I have to admit- even knowing she was gone, it was a shock to see a little black buckling in the cage that Epiphany had graced for the last few years.  I wish that little bunny a lot of luck in her new home- I hope she produces plenty of beautiful little babies for her new owner, and that owner finds as much joy in her as I did.


Monday, February 25, 2013

So proud of the NCYRBA

The North Carolina Youth Rabbit Breeders Association recently went out on a limb. Our kids were looking to raise money so they could go to the ARBA Convention in Pennsylvania. 

Ultimately, they decided to put on their own show. They didn't add a specialty, they literally put on their own show.  The President of the club took youth entries, the Vice President took open entries and away they went.
A big thank you to judge Don Sheets, who donated his time and judging to the kids.  I'm not sure if the other judges did something similar, but I do know he did.

The show turned out beautifully!   The costume contest provided a lot of laughs.  The raffle tables were incredible, with a quality of items rarely seen at smaller shows.  Tim came home with a bucket full of homemade hot sauces from Bel Aire Farms, which has him tickled to death.

The awards were gorgeous rosettes.  I am only sad I didn't win BOB and BOSB in all four shows so I could bring home a complete set.  Keep's Poplar did bring home a BOB, so I guess I should stop being greedy and be happy with the lovely rosette I did get!

Overall, the kids did a great job putting on their first show and it seemed like it must have been a successful fundraiser.  I'm so proud of all the work they did and how generous the exhibitors were- that raffle table was full of tickets, there were six costume contest entries and the bake sale items were eaten with reckless abandon.

Way to go NCYRBA!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Trouble Kindling

My heart has been in my throat for the last 24 hours.

My beloved "Catching Fire" was due with her first litter.  She made a gorgeous nest on the wire, so I worried mostly that the litter would be born there.  Yesterday morning I went out to find a baby dead on the wire, but it had the typical stretched out "first litter, wasn't alive anyway" look.   Oh well, it happens.

When I got home from work, I noticed her grumpily sitting in her nestbox.  I picked her up to look for more babies and found none, but she did show some swelling and had some diarrhea.  Great.

After an hour there was no noticeable change in her condition, that's when I really knew we had a problem.  She was having trouble getting that next kit out.

A friend suggested rolling her gently over on my grooming table in hopes of repositioning the kit.  I slowly rolled her over, then held her on her back for fifteen or twenty seconds, then allowed her to get up.  I followed this treatment up with several minutes of belly massages, then repeated it.   I also held her back end up like I was helping her breed and massaged, hoping that would help her.

Eventually, it was time to let her do what she could do on her own.  

Checks through out the night revealed a tiny pair of legs sticking out.  She had graduated from problems having her kit to a stuck kit.

Ultimately, I brought her in the house, along with food and her water.  I lubed up the legs on the baby and made sure to get some on her, then gave an exploratory tug- unfortunately the kit was stuck fast.  I was afraid to pull it out for fear of hurting her, or tearing the baby (which was obviously dead at this point) and killing Catching Fire.

For the next hour or so, I massaged her belly, or just sat stroking her back.  I filled up a small container with warm water and let her soak in that a few minutes.  She seemed to enjoy it and it helped clean off her messy bottom.

After she was dried off, I put more lubricant on her and gave one last gentle tug at the babies feet- they still weren't budging.  Catching Fire started to contract again right as I was headed to bed, so she got one last belly massage.

At this point, there was nothing left to do but pray she could get the kit out during the night.

I am happy to report that as of this morning, she had passed the kit.  No more swelling, no more diarrhea.  I am hoping she is done and there aren't any more kits in there.

What a night!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

More Babies!

Hopefully the baby boom has begun at Keep's Rabbitry (yes, I know- I already have a lot..now I have more.)

Keep's Muse kindled two beautiful little black babies this morning! There was a third that didn't make it, it looked like she had trouble with him.

Southland's Snickers was pulling wool like crazy when I left.  She tanked her last litter, so I am anxiously awaiting the moment I can go home and check on her.

Keep's Catching Fire has made a lovely nest on the wire, while Keep's Tequila Mockingbird and Lyle Creek's Violet haven't done much of anything.

Keep's Dove missed this round of breeding.  For some reason she went completely off feed and has brought herself nearly to the brink of starvation before I was able to tempt her in to eating again.  Needless to say, she didn't have the extra calories needed for an unborn litter to grow.  I'm just thankful she is eating again.  Hopefully in a few weeks we can try her again.

Southland's Snickers kindled two dead babies this afternoon and one live kit.  She pulled a ton of wool and has done a great job caring for her singleton, but I made the decision to foster her kit over to the Florida White litter.  This chunky butt kit is almost as large as the day-older Florida White kits, so I think they will be fine.

Keep's Muse ended up passing another elongated kit.  I noticed she hadn't eaten (or scratched out her feed), which is unusual for her.  It's a relief to see she passed her baby, hopefully she's done now.  I checked her litter and one of the little kits had wool tangled around it's foot and stuck to it's butt.  I made sure to untangle the baby and clean up it's rear.  Leaving the wool wrapped around it's foot could have led to the circulation being cut off and the baby losing a foot- or even led to it's death.  It's really important to check over the babies in any wool breed, as the wool can get tangled.

I added Snickers's considerable pulled wool from her now-empty-next to Muse's nestbox- no point in letting it go to waste and it will help keep the two small babies warm as the weather cools off again.


Monday, February 11, 2013

A new litter

Sky's Eve (Florida White) kindled a successful litter today!  She had a huge litter her first breeding, but had trouble and they ended up scattered all over the wire.

This time she did everything perfectly and her labor was easy- we have a nest full of fat, pink babies. 

Happily, both Florida White does are now proven!  There was never a doubt that they wouldn't be great mothers, but I do like having the confirmation.

So far Eve has been a less aggressive mother than Lillith.  She easily allowed me to pull out her box and check on the kits and even submitted to having her head stroked.

Now that both girls are proven, Tim needs to get on the ball with deciding when he wants to take the rabbits down to Haiti so we can move forward with our plans.  I'd like to bring in another buck to send with the shipment so that the lines won't be as tight.

Lots of plans, but happily things are progressing!


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Overrun and overwrought

I recently went on a trip overseas.  While there, both Keep's Mind Games and Keep's Skyfall passed away.  Of the 20+ juniors currently in my rabbitry, these were two of the Top 3.   Luckily both have brothers who were numbers 4 & 5, but it is a blow to lose these guys- Skyfall was especially a favorite, as he ran to the front of the cage to greet me every day.

Speaking of babies, did you catch that 20+ number?  Oh. My. Gosh.

I've got two does due in two days.  I've got more does due two days after that.  I just bought back a Keep's Doe from a friend who sold out of woolies and she is being bred today- several of the girls are set to be rebred this week.

I've got to make some very hard cuts and soon.  I will have some Florida White babies available for sale, as well as a pet wooly or two.   The large litter from Erb's Indiana is going to have to be culled down from six to no more than three.  The only reason I'm even considering allowing myself to grow out three babies is that two are does and I will be keeping both of them automatically to grow out.

The problem is that I can see rabbits I want to sell in the near future, but I am not necessarily done with them right now.  However, I'm going to have to move some out sooner than I might wish in order to let the next generation come up.  Sigh.

I blame Tim's Florida Whites.  Without them, I'd have four extra holes right now! :)


Saturday, January 26, 2013

So cold

It's been very cold here the past week- well perhaps folks to the far North wouldn't think it was cold, but to us hot-house flowers here in the South, it was very cold.

Yesterday, despite the insulation and the closed off conditions of the rabbitry, all the water bottles froze- all but one that is.  It was very odd.   We ended up tossing all the bottles in to a big rubbermaid container and bringing them in the house to thaw for a few hours.   The upside is we were able to fill them up in the house, and just run quickly outside, toss the bottles on the cages and run back inside.

I did take advantage of having the bottles in the house to clean them up a bit. 

Thankfully, none of the girls are due to have babies for another two weeks.  All our current babies are right around weaning age and are either still with their mothers or have a lot of siblings to snuggle with.

It looks like the temperatures are rapidly going to warm back up over the next few days.  This is probably going to wreak havoc with their coats, but I'll take molty woolies over freezing water bottles any day :).


Sunday, January 20, 2013


We had the Piedmont Triad Rabbit Breeders yearly show yesterday.  This one is so much closer to my house- it was nice to get to sleep in a little while longer.

The show was great, even though Tim left the legs of my grooming table sitting in the driveway.  Luckily he didn't back over them as we were leaving and my friends let me mooch off their tables.

Keep's Poplar took a Best of Breed in Show A!   I was thrilled, and I was especially happy that Keep's Troublemaker earned his granding leg today in his class.  I had some nice placements in the first show and I won't bore you with all of them, but my bucks did me proud (I had only two does to show, both barely seniors lol).

In Show B, Keep's Tribute took Best Opposite Sex of Breed!  Keep's Catching Fire took BOSG for her senior leg- meaning she is now able to be granded as well!  Again, we had some excellent placements in Show B and I was very happy with how my herd competed against my friends and fellow exhibitors.

One thing I found funny- Keep's Mind Games and Keep's Baffle flip flopped in both shows, just like they did 2 weeks ago.  They are both so close in type, I don't know how I'll ever choose between them.

I managed to pare down my litter of five from Epiphany to only two to grow out.  Both pointed whites and a siamese sable brood buck made their way to their new homes yesterday.  Joni was teasing me about never selling young babies and truth be told, if we had had another show sooner than a month away, I probably would have held on to all five longer.  It's not that I worry about selling something that turns "too nice", but that I worry about selling something young and it goes the opposite way!

Overall, it was a wonderful show.  Now the bunnies get a break until the Youth-sponsored show in February!


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Baby Buck Blues

It's becoming almost a joke around here- and a reoccurring blog topic as well.

I went out to sex my baby woolies yesterday.

Indiana: 4 Bucks, 2 Does
Fiona: Doe
Puzzle: Buck
Rumor: 2 Bucks
Epiphany: 4 Bucks, 1 Doe

11 Bucks, 4 Does.  Terrible odds again!  I am hoping the two broken bucks out of Rumor do a switch on me- or at least one of them does.  It was hard to get an accurate read on them.

The good news is that the two does in Indiana's litter are both showable (a black and a siamese sable) and they are out of Panda! He's given me mostly bucks in all the litters I've gotten from him- in fact, these two little girls will double the number of does he's produced.

Of the 11 bucks, one is a pointed white and will be sold.  One is a broken black with no mustache who will go as a pet.  The rest will have to be typed and considered, but I know I won't grow out more than one buck from Indiana's litter (since there are two does I'll be growing out) or two bucks from Epiphany's litter (the doe is already sold, she is a pointed white).

Oh well, I rebred 6 wooly does yesterday- here is hoping I get a few more ladies next round!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

NC State ARBA Representative

I realized I never posted the official news here on the blog!

A few weeks ago I got a message from our current District 9 Director, Dr. Jay Hreiz.  He let me know that I had been nominated to be a representative to ARBA from the state of North Carolina.  I was absolutely shocked by the unexpected honor and of course I accepted the responsibility.

As a representative, I will keep in close contact with our D9 Director.  Part of this correspondence includes keeping him informed of legislation here in North Carolina that could impact our hobby, as well as sharing with him accolades breeders have won, youth contest results, Breed or Opposite wins on a National level, deaths of ARBA members here in North Carolina, etc. 

I look forward to taking on this new role and I hope that those of you reading this who are located in North Carolina will support me with sharing any concerns you have, as well as information such as I have listed above.


Friday, January 4, 2013

A Fond Farewell

We bid a fond farewell to Keep's Chapel Hill today!

Chapel Hill was a successful mother and show rabbit for me and she's been living in retirement for the past year. 

I am so happy to report that I found a wonderful pet home for her, where she will get to be a spoiled rotten lap bunny.  It's not often I find good pet homes, but this opportunity was perfect! The lady was looking for an older, female, black Jersey Wooly.  I think it was love at first sight and I'm sure they will both be very happy.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sad Start

It's been a sad start to the year.  All the litters born on New Years day were either scattered on the wire or born dead.  I'm just waiting now on one last first-timer and I don't hold out much hope that her litter will go smoothly.

I won't be rebreeding right away because the timing of the litters would be bad.  It will have to be mid-January before I even consider trying again.

Hopefully the show this weekend will go a little better! I'm taking out some of my favorite juniors and newly-turned seniors.  Some, like Tequila Mockingbird, Coalminer and Catching Fire, only need a single senior leg to grand out.  Since Mockingbird and Fire are both in the same class, this should be interesting!

I'm looking forward to seeing my bunnies friends.  It's been entirely too long!  However, I am most definitely not looking forward to getting up at the crack of dawn.  The things we do for rabbits.

I'm going through the herd now to figure out what I'll be bringing for sale.  With so many babies running around, I need to make some space.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Rabbitry Goals

I've had a really hard time with getting down my goals this year.  I guess because I am not really looking to do much specifically- it's all related to things I can't control, like Best In Show and BOB at ARBA Convention.

Still- I always do goals and this year will be no different!

Get dilute back in to the herd- I have somehow managed to cull all my dilute and dilute carriers.  Way to go me. I'd like to get that back in.

Get REW back in to the herd- Pretty much the same as with dilute- without meaning to, I let REW go.  I miss REW babies!

Get Pictures on the site- No ifs, ands or buts, this year I really am planning on getting some herd pictures up!

That's what I've got this year! It's not much, but I am pretty happy with my herd overall right now.  I look forward to seeing what 2013 holds!