Monday, January 28, 2019

Our First New Zealand Whites Have Arrived

Last weekend was a very eventful one for our rabbitry.  We were anticipating the arrival of our first pair of White New Zealands on Saturday.  We cleaned the rabbitry and assembled cages.  We re-arranged living spaces for some of the rabbits so the larger cages would be available for our new arrivals.  And then the weather decided it didn't agree with our excitement and it would teach us a lesson in patience.

With the weather slowing down the gals who were transporting our rabbits to us, we settled in to wait and wait we did until the next morning.  Sunday morning I was able to drive out to meet Kristi and pick up our new additions from her.

A big thank you goes out to Kristi Latiolais for taking the time to drive and safely transport these beautiful rabbits for me.  And an even bigger thank you goes out to Joy Griffin and Griffin Girls Rabbitry for selling this pair to us and making it possible for me to start raising and showing my own New Zealand Whites.

So without further ado here they are:
Our newest buck
Our newest doe

The kids are already begging me to let them name them and I sound like a broken record as I tell them to wait until Joy sends me the pedigrees because if they already have good names we won't be changing them.

Mid-Tex RBA Show Reports are in!

Our Show Results from the Killeen, Texas Rabbit show are in and we are thrilled.

Clarissa's blue Mini Rex doe took Best of Variety in all three shows and her red Mini-Rex doe took Best of Variety in one of the shows.

Seriah's black English Spot buck took Best of Breed in two of his shows, Best of Variety in all three shows and Best Opposite of Breed in one show.  Her chocolate English Spot doe took Best of Variety in all three shows, Best Opposite of Breed in two shows, and Best of Breed in one show.  Unfortunately they were only competing against each other, but we got some great feedback from the judges and are hopeful that we will see some more English Spots at future shows.

And by far the result I am the most excited about is my broken red New Zealand Tucker.  He got Best Opposite of Variety in one of the shows and won his second leg.  Hooray!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Mid-Tex RBA Show this Past Weekend was a Great Chance for New Friends and New Rabbits

This past weekend my three older children and I have the privilege of attending the Mid-Tex RBA's triple show in Killeen, Texas.  I was an fun and interesting show that was well worth the time and the trip down to be a part of.

We started with every intention of leaving mid-morning on Friday, January 18th so that we would have plenty of time to drive down with feeling stressed or rushed to make it in time for the Friday evening show.  Well as almost anyone can tell you the best laid plans are only good until you start to carry them out and then they typically fall apart and you have to make new plans or wing it.  Well we ended up winging it.

We left the house about 10:30am, filled the van with gas and headed down the road.  about 30 minutes out we realized that one of us was missing our cellphone and it fell out of a pocket at a gas station or in the driveway at the house.  You guessed it we turned around and drove all the way back to find the cellphone in the driveway.  We were blessed that it didn't get run over over when I backed out of the driveway.

This meant is was really 11:30am when we finally hit the road and started our trip.  Now Google Maps says that Killeen, Texas is a five our and 20 minute drive from my house.  So I figured no problem.  We needed to be there by 6:30pm so we would be fine.  At least that is what I thought until we got past Ardmore and close to Gainsville, because somewhere in there Google Maps loses about forty minutes worth of time which meant our five hour and twenty minute drive ended up becoming a six hour plus drive because we hit traffic when we got to Fort Worth.  Fortunately we made it to the Expo Center where the show was being held about 6:00 and were able to get unloaded and all the entry forms and comment cards filled out and turned in before the show started at 7:00pm.

Those entry form comment cards are no joke.  You have to fill one form out for each rabbit you enter, for each show you enter them in.  It was a crazy number of cards.  One rabbit for 3 shows is three cards.  Multiple that by the four New Zealands I brought to show, the three Holland Lops my son brought, the two English Spots my daughter brought and the four Mini Rex my other daughter brought gives you 13 rabbits x 3 comment cards and I filled out 39 comment cards for the shows this past weekend.  Talk about getting writer's cramp.  I decided I had better teach my kids how to fill out their own cards for the next show because it felt insane.  And we were on the low end as far as how many rabbits we brought with us.

The Club mentioned at the end of the show that there were just over 3700 rabbits at the event.  Can you imagine filling out all those comment cards?  There was one lady there who brought 50 plus rabbits and they were nice rabbits but oh the insanity of filling out those cards.  I did see one lady who had typed up little mailing labels with all the required information and she stuck a label to the top sheet and the carbon copy instead of writing out all her entries.  I loved that idea and maybe once I get a bit more organized that is something I will make a template for.

While it might seem crazy to fill out all those cards to get them ready for a show, I do have to admit that I love them at the end of the show when they get filled out and I get a copy.  While the judge is evaluating each rabbit he talks about it, telling you what he likes and doesn't like and a comment writer listens and makes notes on the card to give back to the breeder.  They have been very helpful to me as I am learning about my rabbits strengths and weaknesses in deciding who to keep for breeding and who to retire.

Friday's show got done between midnight and 1:00am.  And five very tired rabbit enthusiasts headed to the hotel to pass out for a couple of hours of sleep.  It made me very glad the next morning that I had already done all our entries for the Saturday shows so we could sleep in a little longer and not get up until 6:30am to make it to the Expo Hall by 8:00am for the show to start.

My daughter Seriah really lucked out with her English Spot judge Friday evening.  Because English Spots are a breed that is more rare than some she ended up with the only two at the show, and the judge took the extra time even though it was late in the evening to walk her through his entire judging process and talk to her about what he was looking at and why and how each of her rabbits stacked up to the breed standard.  He even recommended what to look for in matching up a buck with her doe for breeding.  I honestly could not have asked for anything more.  He was fantastic.

Saturday was a lot of fun, but it was also full of a lot of hurry up and wait as well.  We ended up packing books to read and a couple of card games to play while we waited.  I even started a new crochet project that afternoon so new dishtowels for my kitchen will be coming soon.

The best part about Saturday though was definitely the afternoon show, when Seriah and I got an opportunity to help behind the scenes and we worked as writers for a couple of the judges for a little bit.  I think it was a fun opportunity to get to know the judges and to learn more about the breeds that we wrote for.  It also make me realize that it was something I want to do more often and I am seriously considering learning enough to become a registrar and a judge myself, because I think it would be fun.

Sometime in between playing cards, putting rabbits on the table to be judged, and helping take comments I also got to see the registrar and Swift and Sassy now have registration numbers and their applications have been sent off to the American Rabbit Breeder's Association.  I am excited about this because once the applications have been processed I can send in for Swift's Grand Champion certificate and this alone makes the trip down to the show in Killeen worth it.  I am hoping to take a couple of my other does to the next show we attend in February to go through the same process.

The shows on Saturday ended earlier than the one Friday night and this thankfully made it possible for us to head out about 8:45pm instead of Sunday morning.  It made for a long night's drive and I didn't have all the rabbits unloaded and tucked into their hutches with fresh food and water until after 3:00am, but the drive was uneventful and we didn't have any traffic to contend with so it was worth it.

As you can imagine show results for 3700 rabbits is going to take a while to process and enter, but I will post results from the show as soon as I receive them.  If you have never had an opportunity to attend a rabbit show I recommend you look up the next one happening in your area on the ARBA's show list and go.  Even if you only go for a couple of hours, you will meet great people and have an opportunity to see so many different breeds of rabbits.  It is definitely worth it in my opinion, but then maybe I am a little bit bias because I already love the hobby.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Kit's Photo Shoot Amounts to Blurry Photos

Well the kids and I spent another afternoon in the rabbitry checking on all the rabbits.  We did nail trims, and weight checks, and took the chance to photograph all our growing litters of kits.  They are so jumpy and wiggly as they get bigger and trying to get them to sit still for photo's is no small task.  Most of the photo's we took today ended up with hands in the way to keep kits from jumping off the table or very blurry because a baby or two bounced or moved the second the camera snapped the photo.

But here they are updates on all our current litters:

Love Hart's and Tucker's kits are now 8 days old and already trying to crawl everywhere even if their eyes aren't quite open yet.  Only nine of the twelve are in the photos because I fostered three of them over to Scarlett our red doe to help her single kit survive and stay warm enough.  The three are doing great too.

Sardona's and Swift's kits are now 3 weeks old their eyes are open and they are no longer in a nest box, but are happily scampering around Sardona's cage with her.  Their antics are so funny to watch as they try to climb all over mom, the feeder, and even up the hutch side walls.  I can honestly say I have never seen a rabbit climb cage wire until this afternoon.

Lillian and Tucker's kits will be three weeks old tomorrow and they are more squirrely and wiggly than Sardona's kits.  I also find it interesting that while they are a day younger than Sardona's kits they are actually several ounces bigger on average than her babies.

Scarlett and Carrots single kit is now nine days old and is growing and doing well.  It is almost half again as big as its foster siblings.  Who knew how much a single day could make in the life and size of a baby rabbit.

And last but by no means least we have our very first successful litter of Mini Rex from Clarilla and Yenogoo.  They will be a week old tomorrow and are starting to get their fur and show colors.  Looks like we will be adding a little black and a little broken castor to the spring show team when they get big enough.

I hope you all enjoyed the update on our baby rabbits as much as I enjoyed playing with them and taking photos this afternoon.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Our First Successful Litter of Mini Rex!

Well, it has been another eventful day here with the rabbits. We moved 3 kits from our litter of 12 over to share nest box space with our singleton red kit. They are doing fantastic. Scarlett took to them right away like a champ and everybody is warm enough and have nice round bellies.

We also had our first successful mini-rex delivery this afternoon. A litter of four, one runt that didn't make it and the other three all snug and warm in the nest that Clarilla built.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

The Queen of Stealth Has 12 Kits and I Didn't Even Notice

Our mixed breed meat rabbit Mama kindled yesterday afternoon on January 12, 2019 very quietly while I was out in the barn cleaning and breeding a few of our other does.  A whooping twelve kits.  And I didn't notice a thing until it was evening feeding time and my oldest daughter pointed out that there was pulled fur in her nesting box and a smidge of blood on a piece of straw.  She was super sneaky, pulling fur and having babies.  But we are super excited.  My youngest daughter has named Mama Love Hart.  And while the name fits because she is super sweet.  It makes me think of a Care Bear
What do you think?  Is she Care Bear material?

Our Single Survivor

Good Morning World.  Our Red New Zealand doe Scarlett finally had her first litter of kits.  Unfortunately it came mixed with joy and sorrow.  on January 11th in the wee hours of the morning she kindled two kits.  When we went out for feeding time we found one kit moving around and cold in the nest and the other kit unwashed cold and not moving.  After time was spent washing and trying to revive the kit to no avail I decided that shelving this single survivor inside the house would be the best option because newborn kits can't regulate their body temperature and being a singleton, it would have a much harder time staying warm.

Scarlett was a champ about the whole process, and while she wanted nothing to do with going in the nesting box that evening to free this single kit, she was willing to lie on her back in my lap while we let the kit nurse.

Fast forward one day to this morning, and when we go out for feeding time we find that Scarlett has kindled again.  Only this time, since we had shelved the single kit there was no next box and this poor kit was born on the wire, cold and didn't survive.  I have to admit that I cried this morning when we found this.

And the wisdom that was gained came at a difficult price.  The lesson?  When you have to shelve kits on the day they are born always leave an extra nest box in with mama because you never know for sure if she is done having kits or not, and it is better to be prepared then surprised and sorry.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Mini Rex Rabbits Join the Bowery

So last week I found out that an acquaintance of mine was selling out her rabbits and looking for new homes for them.  She wanted to make sure that they went to a good home and my friend gave Clarissa and I a stellar deal that helped us boost her breeding program with a fantastic start to breeding blacks and broken black Mini Rexes.  They came from living in a colony and all of them have a few scrapes and scars to show for it but they are going to be great for breeding and we will be able to show their babies in the future.


Holly a pedigreed Blue Mini-Rex born on September 4, 2018 out of Kristdala's lines.  She is young a a sweetheart.  An absolute joy to handle and deal with we are teaching her how to pose and are hoping to add her to my daughter's show team this spring.

Polly a pedigreed Black Mini-Rex born also born on September 4, 2018 and a litter mate to Holly.  She has a tiny nick out of an ear tip from living in a colony but with her frame and body type we are looking forward to seeing how she develops and breeding her in the future.

Gretchen a pedigreed Black Mini-Rex born on May 12, 2018 out of Blackfox, Redelman, and Minnow Lake lines.  She also has a badly torn ear from living in a big group and although she won't make the show team we are looking forward to breeding her and seeing what her babies have to offer.

Julio a pedigreed Broken Black Mini-Rex born on July 1, 2017 out of Kristdala's lines.  He is a sweetheart who loves attention and will take all he can get.  He is now recovering from a nose injury after living with a group of boys and seems to like having his own space.  He is completely against sitting still and posing so getting a good photo of him is going to be an ongoing challenge.

Missing Lynx a Broken Lynx Mini Rex born on July 14, 2018.  We are still building his pedigree and after the good things the judges have had to say about him we are looking forward to not only adding him to Clarissa's show team this spring but also continuing to build a pedigree for him and seeing what his future offspring will have to offer.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Summer Heat Sterile Bucks Lead to New Year's Eve Kits

The New Year is upon us, and I can't think of a better way to bring in the new year than with the birth of some beautiful baby bunnies.  We are pleased to announce that Lillian one of our broken black New Zealands delivered a beautiful litter of seven kits on the afternoon of New Year's Eve.

This was an interesting pairing because I broke the mold and paired her with our broken red New Zealand Tucker.  Now I know what you all are thinking, for shame because it will end up causing all the babies to be un-showable and as far as competition you are probably right because we ended up with 4 Charlie Marked broken babies, 1 regular broken who I won't know fur coloring until it gets a little bit bigger and 2 solid babies that have all the markings of being otters a non-recognized breed variety in New Zealands, but again we won't know for sure until the fur comes in.

Mostly this pairing was because I knew that he was having issues with being Heat Sterile from the summer and I wanted to make sure that he had recovered and since my only red doe at the moment is Scarlett and she is already bred to my red buck Carrots I had to use a different doe.

When the summer temperatures start to reach an excess of 80 degrees Fahrenheit for five days or longer in a row, it can result in temporary sterility in both Bucks and Does.  Although it is most common in Bucks.  This inability to reproduce can last anywhere from 30 days to several months.

Since this was our first summer raising rabbits, this was something I learned about first hand after Tucker was no longer reproducing and I had to figure out why and better yet how to prevent it in the future.  There were a few things that I came across in different forums that seem to make common sense and that I plan to put to the test this coming summer when things start to heat up around here.

  1. Keep your bucks in lower cages, where is might just be a couple degrees cooler because cooler air settles while the warmer air rises.
  2. Use fans to keep the air circulating and cooling better.  Just be sure they aren't blowing directly on the rabbits constantly.
  3. Many breeders keep their rabbits in climate controlled buildings to prevent this.  Something I can honestly say was not the case for us this summer starting out.  Backyard hutches in the shade with a breeze for air circulation are what we started with.
  4. It may be possible to reduce the amount of time a buck who becomes heat sterile is unable to reproduce by continuing to breed him.  The Thought being that even though he won't get the doe pregnant for a while, it may help flush his system and get everything working properly again.

Now whether the last one is really true or not I will leave that for you to decide since I kind of figure,  that it is probably more of a case by case thing; and that it really depends on the individual rabbit and it's overall health, it's hormone levels, age and whatnot that would all play a role in how long that particular buck would be affected.

So while breeding a broken black to a broken red New Zealand may not be a wise choice for producing the next Best in Show rabbit, it did answer the question I needed it to.  Tucker is no longer heat sterile and it is time to starting looking for a girlfriend or two for him.

In the meantime enjoy the photo of the nest box full of mystery kits, and we will enjoy watching them grow up together.  More pictures will be on our In The Nest Box  page at the top of the blog as they grow and develop.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A Little Pumpkin Queen Joins the Herd

Shortly before Christmas I was given the opportunity to meet with a tri-color mini rex breeder to purchase a young doe.  Her name is Pumpkin Queen because she was born just before Halloween.  My daughter wanted to come with me to pick her up so badly even though it was a school day.

She is a tiny ball of fluff who is a little bit nervous about her new surroundings but, is sweet enough to enjoy being held everyday by the kids and so far seems to be mellow about being handled for which I am very grateful.

We are looking forward to watching her grow and seeing how her fur comes in and what the judges think of her once she is big enough to join our show team.  A big thank you goes to Crystal Fischer from Fischer Rabbitry for meeting with me and letting us bring this lovely girl home.