Our First Egg!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Updated pics



In this litter of kits we have:
Pearl, Pointed White, or Ermine (2; to be determined)
Opal or Lynx (1; to be determined)
Self Lilac (1-2)
Self Blue (1-2)
A few formerly "self blue" kits have a white tipping to their wool, that I read is probably going to develop into smoke pearl, although it could also be chinchilla or steel. Most likely it will be smoke pearl (blue sable). We also have a "self lilac" kit that has white tipping to its fur as well.

So, although the pearl/pointed white/ermine kits are beautiful, they may or may not be showable. They still have the agouti-white accents, but have developed grey backs. What used to be lilac colored feet with white bottoms are now almost pure white.

The opal or lynx kit may or may not be showable as well, it needs to develop a little more banding in its fur. Also still has agouti-white accents. It is not a tort, although it could be genetics wise.

Hopefully our light colored kits do not turn out to be ermine. I read that ermine has a grey tipping to its wool and is not pure snow white. It also has colored eyes instead of red eyes. Ours almost look like they have a reddish tint or are actually brown/grey.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Rabbitry Business

Evan and I are now the official registered owners of Eggs 'N' Sweaters Rabbitry and Micro-Farm through ARBA. Now we should also recieve hits  from people looking for French Angoras through ARBA, as we get a little free-ish advertising there.

We also saved over a thousand dollars today. We got two banks of cages for a total 14 new holes in our rabbitry! We bought them used from a man on craigslist. We also three travel cages for going to sjows. And food dispensers and water bottles for 125.00.....what a steal. We did, however, have to do a lot of hard cleaning in the snow. We are frozen. But we have a place to put our kits and have more litters too.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Baby updates!

A lot has happened this week. Here are new kit pictures, they are about 2 weeks old now. Everyone has their eyes open. All eyes are blue-grey. We still have three kits that have agouti-like white accents. Evan chose a rabbit, Pudge, to keep. We will not know the sex for a little while longer. All 9 kits a doing well. Blue is a good mama. They are still living in the closet so I can monitor thier feeding times and weights. Soon they will move into Blue's cage again. All are gaining well.
Three self blue rabbits like dad. Three lilac colored. Three unknown colors as of yet with agouti-like markings.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Mom of kits

just thought I would tske a second to show what the kit's mom Blue looks like. She is a smoke pearl french angora. She has a self blue face/ears/legs/tail, and a brownish/smokey grey wool with very very light colored (white) wool near the base of the skin that is different from her wool on the top surface. Her saddle is a darker grey than her sides and stomach. Her tail is a uniform color on the top and bottom. Her nails are dark. Her eyes are grey blue. She is extremely sweet and mild mannered. She makes a lot of noise for a rabbit. She is always the first to tell me verbally that she is not liking something. She loves apple cores, oats, and alfalfa hay. She also loves pineapple and strawberry jam as a treat.

Color changing kits!

We have a rabbit kit that is now changing from self blue (dark grey) with white accents to a self blue upper coat, with orangey-tan base color. It may be an opal? Or tortoiseshell with a reddish hue....hmm...I tried to take some pictures in which you could see the orangey base coat coming through. Still has bright white tummy/nose legs/inner ear/underside of tail.

 Our little light grey/white/lilac point rabbits are coming along too. We also have three lilacs,and three self blues. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Kit updates!


Well the kits are doing better since I began helping Blue to nurse twice a day and making sure the skinny ones ate. I thought we might lose 5 in addition to the one runt that died on day one. Now I believe we will have 7 healthy kits, as we have two runts still that are not doing well with their mom's reduced amount of nipples. I may in fact go ahead and pick up some KMR (Kitten Milk Replacement) and help these two along. Most rabbits are in the 3-4 oz range, and are growing nicely. One is five ounces, #7, and is the biggest in the litter. He/she is pictured below, under the surprises heading! General nest box pictures:


In this litter we expected self blue (dark grey all over wool & face & body), & lilac (diluted self blue, looks lighter grey but uniform color as well) for sure. We got some surprises as well! We should be expecting blue, blue tortoiseshell, lilac, smoke pearl, red-eye-white, pointed white, and lilac tortoiseshell, I believe.

First off we have 2 rabbits, rabbits #7 & 8, that are very very light grey in color, with white tummies, white eye rings around the eye, and white undersides of tails. They have darker grey (in the lilac range of grey) ears outside of the white inner. They also have a lilac-looking spot covering their noses, and may have white nose bars along the very edge of noses.
I am just now starting to understand and study rabbit color genetics, and from what I can gather at this point they may be chinchillas, or some other variety I was not expecting. From what I read, rabbits with white tummies/ears/nose bars/tail undersides are Agouti-based in coloring, and that it is obvious from birth. You can just tell in the tummy picture that the wool is slightly darker on the top than the stomach. It is very obvious in the top picture, you can tell the inner ears are lighter. Since I am not expecting Agouti-based colors of any kind due to rabbit genetics, I must assume these two rabbits are smoke pearl, like their mother Blue. Although, the whiteness throws me. Pictures:

Another surprise is rabbit #6, which is a very dark grey as in self grey (like his dad Winchester), with a white tummy, white tail underside, white inner ears, white eye rings, and white nose bars. Again, from what I read something in the Agouti range of colors. Which should not be possible with our rabbit genetics. I have no idea what to color to call this rabbit. More to come soon! Pictures:

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Kits doing better

We changed the way Blue was nursing, and are getting much better results.

First we removed the nest box from her cage, which may sound "wrong," but actually does not cause stress, as rabbits have a nest burrow that in the wild they would only visit once or twice a day. Rabbits also do not spend a lot of time with their kits in the wild.

Secondly, we nurse the smaller kits - the ones with shrunken tummies & wrinkly skin (sign of not getting enough to eat/dehydration) - in the evening. We do this by bringing Blue TO the nest box in my closet, away from kids & noise & cat. She climbs in, stays for 5 minutes. We can hear the kits nursing. She licks them at this time too. Then she is done. She gets a treat & exercise, then back to her cage.

Third, we bring Blue to nurse all the kits together in the morning, following the same routine.

Fourth, I weigh the kits. Have been doing this since day one. I use a kitchen scale, as it is more accurate when dealing with 1/4-1/2 oz. increments.

I am happy to report that all kits, except our littlest, gained weight this morning, and are not looking as wrinkly. Numbers 4 & 1 are still struggling, but not losing weight. I am hoping that they will improve by tomorrow morning by following the same routine. Several of the smaller ones looked much fatter, with full tummies, and are satisfied.

What a relief! Pics tomorrow.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Kit progress

Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend lost our runt, and found out that our doe Blueberry does not have a full set of working nipples. She almost developed mastitis in two teats, as she produced milk in the ducts, but lacked working nipples for the kits to extract the milk. She had to go to the vet, and get antibiotics to prevent infection in the two teats that are lacking a nipple. This is also the same day that our garbage disposal backed up, and I had pies to bake without working overhead stove hood lights, as those burned out that day too.

So our basket of 10 healthy looking kits pre-Thanksgiving has turned into a basket of four large, healthy kits, and three skinny kits, and two kits that are small and starving. 

We began supplementing the kits that were not gaining weight with this:
1/2 c. Evap. Goats milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 T. Cane syrup

It is really difficult to try to get a rabbit kit to nurse, and have to feed from syringe 1-2 drops at a time. We fed 3 times a day. Then, some kits developed diahhrea that we were supplementing. Not good. They cannot stand a loss of fluid that way. 

 So now, the plan is to feed the 1/2 of kits that are skinny/starving in p.m., withhold nest box through night, then feed big kits in a.m. Rabbits only nurse 1-2 times a day, so this way we are trying to encourage her to nurse 2 times a day and making sure all kits have a chance to feed, and are not being pushed around by the larger kits. We shall see if this works.
The big kits

The starving kits

A glimpse of cute tummies.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The KITS have arrived!

Our senior doe (a female rabbit over six months of age) Blue(berry) gave birth to TEN kits tonight! When a rabbit gives birth, it is called kindling. And kits are the babies. So, now that you are all up to speed with the lingo, I can get down to describing them!
Blue's pregnancy began just 31 days ago, when she was bred to Winchester, our junior buck. That is a typical length of term for a rabbit pregnancy. No wonder the saying goes, "multiplying like rabits!" She was in the mood to get pregnant, too. She was very interested in him for weeks before I let them do the deed. At 28 days I made a nest box of wood and hardware cloth, and placed it in her cage (above).
Blue then got busy gathering large mouthfuls of hay and arranging it "just so" in her nesting box. I Then added some spare rabbit scrap/junk wool, like mats and kind of junky stuff that I wasn't going to use to spin. Then it was time to wait. 

Fast-forward three days. Rabbits usually kindle at 31 days, so we had been checking the nest box all day. But it was a very busy day, family feast at school, snow, a class tonight , etc. Still. No kits. I felt her stomach three days in a row, very, very gently. Just put my hand under her abdomen. Then just waited. All three times I felt little movements. Kicks. But what do I know, I have never done this before. Maybe I am wrong I thought. Maybe she is not pregnant. But she thought she was. She was grumpy. And did not want any rabbits near her cage. At times did not want me near her cage.

Even so, by the end of today I began to doubt the pregnancy, and began to dread getting up all night
to check on her, only to find no kits. Or so I thought. Ernie and I left tonight for a class we are taking, and left my Mom in charge of the kids and rabbit checking. She checked every hour. No change. But
between the last time she checked and the time we got home, Blue managed to give birth to 10 (!?!) kits, eat the placenta and sacks, clean them all, and pluck her hair off her dewlap and sides to cover and insulate them. What a champ! She was sitting outside the nest box when I got home, and the only way i knew they were in there was because she looked ragged from pulling all her hair out.
So, what are they like? They are very small, like the palm of your hand, a few inches long, and thin, like 1/3 of a palm wide. They are soft, like velvet or warm baby skin. They do not have a smell that I can discern. They make little grunting noises to find each other or their mother. They pile up atop one another in the nest box and thier warm fur. We have a runt. Some are dark grey, some medium, some light grey or white. Time will tell.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

What to do with all the willow branches that fell in your backyard, when you have rabbits

So the snow from a storm of a few weeks ago is still melting in my backyard. We have had enough melt in the two days to expose two things: one, that my lawn looks like hell from all the wet leaves and sticks, and two, there are a heck of a lot of downed willow branches. Our backyard recieves shade all summer from a huge weeping willow tree, that I swear is getting all of it's water from our lawn. And as soon as a storm hits we have a lot of downed branches to clear away from this beloved, but messy, tree.

Now that I have rabbits, I have a use for all the mess: rabbit willow wreaths. I got the idea from a vendor at the rabbit show. She sold little wreaths of dried willow branches and leaves that she wove together for the rabbits to eat and sharpen their teeth on.  I could do that! Hers were dried, but fresh is ok too.

So what I did was to select a few long branches and cut from the main limb. This is easy, as willows like to weep and grow long branches. If you get to your downed limbs fairly quickly, they will be nice and green and pliable, making them easy to work with.

I then bundled and braided the long branches (covered in leaves) together, sort of like making
dandelion flower wreaths when you were a kid. I also like to braid, as with boys I never get the chance to do anything fun with hair. You could just bundle together branches and wrap into a round wreath circle with a longer piece to secure them into that shape. But, its prettier and tidier to do by braiding.

Once the branches are braided, I formed them into circles, wraping the ends around the circle to hold everything together. Voila! A rabbit eating and chewing wreath. I can now store the 20 or so wreaths that I made from this storm with the pine cones and sticks I am saving for them to chew on once the current batch is used-up. I put these in a tote box in the garage. The wreaths are a great boredom-buster too, for when it is too wet for an angora rabbit to be hopping in the lawn.