Our First Egg!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Our next show: West Coast Classic April 8-10th, 2016 in Reno, Nevada AND Feeding Angoras in Spring

We are going to the West Coast Classic April 8-10th

We are going to bring four junior bucks, one junior doe, and one senior buck. Two junior bucks are FOR SALE.

Pudge will be on-site, but is not entered into competition, as he is not a show buck, but rather a fiber buck, despite his excellent body and wool! He is there to promote his upcoming litter, in which we expect and hope for all very light-colored fiber bunnies (almost pure white). Pudge has one leg, despite his being a DQ for incorrect color.

We plan to bide the time during the long weekend talking to people about ANGORAS, visiting the Northwest Angora Rabbit Association booth (angora fiber contest, garment contest, spinning demos), and spinning on our travelling spinning wheel!  Not to mention that we are entered in 4 different shows, and Evan will do showmanship.

An update on FEEDING your bunnies & chickens in Spring, Summer, and Fall:

We feed the outdoor birds. We love to do so, as they are a very natural method of pest-control in our yard. They also bring beauty and song into your backyard, and are interesting in all seasons. We have 25 regular species that visit our yard in the Winter. The number decreases by the Summer, as some birds move up elevation back into the Sierras.

The natural by-product of feeding the birds is sunflower sprouts under the bird feeders. These used to be pesky little problems to me, and got quite thick. You can do several things with them, however! The first is to eat them yourself.
Organic sunflower sprouts under our bird feeders.
The second is to let the chickens root around under the feeders when free-ranging. And indeed, they will do this themselves without encouragement.

The third, is to pluck the sprouts and feed them to your bunnies. Sunflower seeds are on the list of foods ARBA recommends to "show condition" a rabbit up to two weeks before a show, for coat condition & flesh condition. It contains natural oils. Our little sprouts contain pieces of sunflower seed & shells, as well as the yummy sprouts. They also contain soil microbes and flora, which rabbits are supposed to get in the wild. Just pluck them and knock off most of the dirt. I feed now that they are growing nicely in good healthy clumps.
Clump of sunflower sprouts, leftover seeds, a little soil

Yum! Says Pudge

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Planned Breedings & West Coast Classic Update

Our next breeding will take place THIS weekend.

First off, we are going to breed Pudge back to Blueberry. We will have rabbits then to spin from. We wanted more white-ish rabbits, as they went fast to spinners. Also, I want a couple more white rabbits to keep for myself, to make sure I have plenty of wool to spin from. We also want white-ish rabbits WITHOUT red eyes (kinda creepy to some people). Pudge and Blueberry should make just about all white-ish smoke-pearl chin rabbits. And maybe some does this time, that would be nice. Pudge also has a very nice body & wool, which will be great for breeding and spinning. He will definitely add quality, along with Blue, of course, to this litter.

Winchester and Pumpkin will breed for the first time together, and Pumpkin will kindle for the first time. They should make nice agouti rabbits, as the parents both have very nice bodies and dense wool. I like the prospect myself of having interesting agouti colors to spin from, without having to dye the wool. I have been looking into adding in very small bits of flashy material to my agouti wool, to make it really {POP}. I like the wool rings. These will be show, pet, and fiber bunnies.

We are going to West Coast Classic show in Reno on April 8-10th. Just about everyone I have left is going to the show, if I can manage to get them there (short on travel cages). At the show, I will be on the lookout for a "self" buck or doe to purchase. It seems I have a lot of agouti. Some, would prefer selfs for spinning and show. Want to have something for everyone.

The Northwest Angora Association (which we just joined) will also have a booth, and be hosting the fiber event at the West Coast Classic. I am super excited to see what others have been spinning with their angora! I also want to talk to more spinners about blending angora, and spinning techniques. They will also have demos. Can't wait!

I have seen people spinning directly from angoras on videos, and I wonder if anyone will demo that technique. Although, I have enough problems learning to spin without also holding a rabbit on my lap. Pudge, however, would be perfect for that, as he is VERY calm, almost to be point where you wonder if he is "okay" at times. He has been hauled around since birth by the kids, and it shows.

It will also be time to register Pumpkin, Blue, and Winchester with ARBA. All are "at weight" and "of age."

Pictures of our Rabbits, updated

I realized that I haven't posted recent pictures of our rabbits. All the adults have just shed in January, hence them looking not-as-fluffy. Winchester, as I think I mentioned, I harvested wool from prematurely. Thus, he has longer wool & lots of guard hairs still, but hasn't actually shed his first coat. Oops. We are missing Coal, Baked Potato, and Pudge from the line-up. Will update tomorrow.
Black Diamond's Pumpkin, Senior Doe, Fawn
Plum Crazy's Blue(berry), Senior Doe, Smoke Pearl

Black Diamond's Winchester, Senior Buck, Blue Steel/Self Blue

Black Diamond's Hot Cocoa, Junior Doe, chocolate (carrying agouti)
ENS' Oyster, Junior Buck, Lilac Steel - bad picture
ENS Cinder, Junior Doe, Self Blue

Our New "Baby"

This weekend I got to meet and take home my new baby, this cute little spinning wheel! Yes, I am in LOVE....

Ashford Traveller spinning wheel.
It is an Ashford Traveller, single drive, and it spins very well. It is almost meditative, as my brain could use a little, um, slowing-down, let's just say. I have to constantly remind myself that my foot needs to SLOW down so my hands can catch up. It is very mindful, but also relaxing.

We purchased the wheel from Salli in Calpine, who lovingly taught me to begin to spin, and inspired me with the amount of beautiful yarns and weavings she produces. She is just amazing! She also pulled out a baby loom for Evan to learn on while I spun. He loved to weave! He wants his OWN loom now, that is after he learns to spin, he says. He liked weaving much better than the needle felting we tried.

Can I tell you what a joy it is to go from raw wool (from either a sheep, or a llama, or a French Angora rabbit) having some yarn to make a garment or blanket? I feel so proud. We fed, loved, and took care of these rabbits. They in turn supplied fun & happiness, and...WOOL! Then we harvested their wool, then spun it into yarn. Wow. I am in awe of how amazing it feels to produce something. That's it, I am hooked!

So far I have spun wool from a sheep and tried a little of our angora. I am going to try some alpaca from local suri llamas as soon as my machine oil gets here from Oregon (see earlier post on processing alpaca - whew, makes me glad our angoras are so clean to spin from). I put in an internet order for extra bobbins, hand carders, ball winder, machine oil, & wool dye from Pacific Wool & Fiber.

Here are my first four test skeins that I made from "bumps" of sheep wool roving. I hand-drafted the roving first, so I would be able to learn about long draw & short draw, learn where my left hand goes and what its job is, and the right hand, and learn to SLOW my foot down! All at the same time. Sounds complicated, but it's really therapeutic and rewarding. I feel pretty accomplished.

The earliest & first skein is on the right, latest skein on the left. I'm getting better....
Close-up of last skein. Very "homespun" looking, but will crochet up nice I think.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Hazard of Showing Rabbits....and How I Became an Entomologist

I think we have gone to one too many rabbit shows. A little critter jumped off of someone's rabbit, onto my rabbit, during the judging process I assume. They are all shoved up against one another there, and wool mites jump ship, as I understand it. Sigh. Thus, we discovered we have wool mites.

We had originally decided to treat with Ivermectin paste, available at the Feed Store, every week for 2-3 weeks. However, after reading several articles on veterinary science websites, we found that this may not be the best course of action. Our basis for discontinuing with the paste treatment is due in part to an article studying the efficacy of treatment of cheyletiellosis (the so-called "walking dandruff" mite) using Ivermectin injections vs. Ivermectin paste vs. Selamectin on-spot applicators (a liquid placed on skin), in rabbits ( This study found that the oral Ivermectin paste may not absorb as well in rabbits, or the dose orally was too small, as rabbits taking Ivermectin injectable once and continuing with Ivermectin paste had a higher rate of re-infection, or a lack of remission (i.e. if it was cured, it wasn't cured for long!). The article found that Selectin on-spot and Ivermectin injectables dosed at a rate of 200-476mcg/kg weight every 11 days, 2-3 times, had a much better remission rate and weren't as prone to re-infection with mites (rate of 81.8%).

Thus, we will be purchasing some swine & cattle Ivermectin 1% injectable at Green's Feed tomorrow for follow-up dosing, as opposed to the paste we treated with first.

Many articles have been written about what dosage 200-476mcg/kg looks like (or 0.2-0.476mg/kg; example: Some authors recommend up to 600mcg or 0.6mg ( ; see lagomorphs section references).  It is basically this: for a given 5 lb baby angora rabbit, at the dose of 0.2mg/kg weight, you give 0.05 ml/cc twice at 10-14 day intervals.
If you prefer a dose closer to the median dosage range, you would give about 0.075ml/cc at the same dosing schedule.
If you have larger rabbits, you dose slightly higher, at about 0.1ml/cc, which is the dose I will give to my adult angoras. The vet also suggests isolating those rabbits that went to shows for 48 hours before returning to the general population, as well as giving one dose of ivermectin upon return during the isolation period. You should also consider dosing cats and dogs, but NOT with the feed store Ivermectin. Cats need Selemectin on-spot applicators (vet) and dogs can get away with HeartGuard.

The life cycle of a mite is carried out on a host: egg to adult, no flying. Mites typically live out their life cycle on one type of host, and cannot survive without a host. Mites are also specific to a host; indeed, most live on just one type of animal, or prefer to. It is unlikely that they will survive on carpets, housing, etc. without dying, in that if the host is treated and skin is toxic to mites, they have nowhere else to host on, and die. They die pretty quickly off a host, as the host is the source of both water (blood) and food. You treat pets for 21-24 days, so that any eggs that were laid by the dead adults can hatch and eat the poison as well, thus ending the cycle. We know about mites, as we hosted several foster cats & kittens from the Humane Society, that then turned around and gave one of our cats mites once. It was so much fun.

Aren't bugs fascinating? I have to admit these ones make me squirm a little, though. I am a bug-person and enjoy looking at and studying bugs. Yes, I actually catch and release spiders from our house, back into the wild. No, I don't find them creepy at all. Yes, I am weird. I guess.

We will be treating the cat, after speaking to our vet, he said one type of wool mite can travel onto cats, although it isn't likely. It's so much fun giving a cat medicine. Yay, me! Bloody arms, here we come.

Even with a very clean and efficient set up, taking rabbits to a show can lead to disease (snuffles) & mites. It is a chance we take, as our son likes to do 4-H and Angoras are his project. Our rabbits are currently NOT for sale, as we are holding them for treatment. They will be available in THREE weeks for pickup, when they are mite-free, or by West Coast Classic time (thank goodness!). 

Links to a very clearly written articles on treating mites:

Monday, March 14, 2016

What the little black plastic trays from the plant store are REALLY for...

We were so impressed by the little felted bunnies, felted soaps, and spun angora that our friends at Black Diamond Rabbitry are making that Evan and I decided to pick up some free alpaca fiber (raw & unprocessed) and try our hand at felted animals. We chose bags of brown, tan, cream, salt n peppa grey, and black. We - or rather I - chose a few too many bags, sensing a deal. We saw some very cute llamas.

If, for example, you are not into knowing just how much work processing raw alpaca is, you may skip to the end. What follows are a few paragraphs detailing the amount of work it takes to process raw fiber. You may, or may not be interested in that. You may, on the other hand, wonder how I find the time with a toddler and a nine year old, to do this much work. We are both wondering the same thing, then. Good that we are on the same page.

First things first. Rebag the alpaca to store until I can use it, to avoid wool moths. I may or may not bake it at 140 degrees to make double sure I don't have any moths in my alpaca. I saw some moths at the farm I got it from inside one bag. I must make sure that they do not get into my angora fiber, if I have some.

Then, for felted animals I have to wash the wool (chose a few colors, small amounts to start): soak in very hot water in blue Dawn (it's not just for cloth diapers and saving wildlife) or euchlan (organic wool wash). Soak without agitating, in a lingere bag for 30 minutes. Lightly squeeze out, drain and repeat until water is mostly clear after soaking for 5 minutes or so. Squeeze out by rolling in a towel or run through thr spin cycle in bag. Then dry on racks in sun.

The creamy white is particularly dirty.

Raw black alpaca, prewash, presoak.

So here is the reality, because mama didn't have any lingerie bags, or a drying rack. Time to repurpose and upcycle. I soaked in euchlan, grabbed the wool out of the extra hot water with a spaghetti ladle. Drained in the other side of the sink. Wrapped in towel to dry, squoze water out. Laid it out to dry on a metal patio table. Repeated another three times. Ran out of space. Realized I had a plant tray from my relentless & enthusiastic plant buying hobby, turned it over and it made a very nice drying rack. To think I was considering buying a drying rack. Ha!

Everything is easier with chickens, kids, and bunnies in the backyard.
Brought in to finish drying for the night. Update in the am: smells very clean. Much more so than I thought it would. Because, oh man, did my kitchen stink for a couple hours.

The upside-down plant store black tray makes a perfect drying rack. Perforated so that air flows through for faster drying, stacks for easy storage. Comes with the added bonus, of plants!

In addition, since I need a few more drying racks, it's time to go plant shopping soon!

I was bummed out to find that my cream colored alpaca smells like gasoline. I can only guess that it was stored next to some in the shed. May have to throw it all out. Thought it would wash out. Oh well.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Leaders Show, update on Ash (sold)

This Saturday we attended the Leaders 4-H Show at the Livestock Events Center in Reno. We met many nice people, and explained a little about our low-maintenance French Angoras, and harvesting wool.

 Our friends from Black Diamond Rabbitry had their spinning wheel with them, and could show people about what spinning from Angora wool looks like, and the finished product. Charlotte also made the most adorable needle-felted bunnies from alpaca, and felted soap covers from angora. They also had several pairs of gloves available for people to see, that they had spun from thier own angoras, with yarn they dyed themselves. I was so impressed! I really need to get spinning now that I have some wool to spin from (Pumpkin finally shed her first coat in January, Blue shed, and I prematurely took 3 oz of wool from Winchester).

We entered three rabbits in the show, two of which were for sale. Our kit Oyster won First Place, Coal won Second. Winchester (sire) won Best of Breed. I was surprised that he won, as I had prematurely harvested 3 oz of wool from him (oops; rookie mistake). He was looking naked to me, I could even see his tail, but his very nice body put him in the winners circle, if you will. We had only brought him so that my son could do showmanship with him, as I was sure he did not have enough remaining density to do well. Goes to show, you never know what a judge will do. Winchester got a nice cage tag.

But, in more important news, Evan won First Place in Novice Showmanship! His hard work paid off, and he took home a ribbon and water bottle for his efforts, as well as the pride of accomplishment.

We sold our kit, Thumper to a nice woman. She plans to spin from him, further proving that I need to get spinning with my wool, and make some products to show and use. First, I need to purchase wool carders to align my wool, as I stored it in bags, and it is in a big ball now. Rookie mistake two.

An update on Ash, from Blueberry and Winchesters first litter did very well in his second show this weekend. He won two legs among four entants and 15 rabbits in his class! Way to go Ash!