Black Diamond Kits

Black Diamond Kits
Sage's Kits, Nine Weeks Old

Saturday, December 27, 2014

New Page Added

We added current pictures of Snowball's kits today, along with sex and weight info and the price of each kit. 

There are a few factors in determining what price we ask for each kit.  One factor is sex.  Does are in greater demand than bucks.  That's life.

Another factor is color.  Some colors are more desirable than others.  Most everything is more desirable than REW.  Too many people saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  In the movie, a REW rabbit attacks some guy and bites him in the neck.  My oldest daughter saw the movie and refuses to own a REW.

Having a good show body is a third factor.  Wool is the most important factor in showing rabbits, but many judges still have a hard time recognizing that when judging angoras.  So a good show body is important as well. 

And, as mentioned above, wool is an important factor--density, texture, and crimp.  Unfortunately, this is the hardest factor to judge in young rabbits who still have a baby coat. 

This is why there is a range of prices set on the kits.  After their first ARBA show, the price of those who were awarded legs will increase. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

History of French Angora Rabbits

The name angora comes from the Turkish city of Angora, now Ankara, where angora rabbits were first spotted.  This is where angora cats and angora goats first came from.

In 1708 Mortimer described the long haired rabbit in England and called it the "white shock Turkey rabbit."  The word shock was used because of how long the wool was. 

Angora is one of the oldest domesticated rabbits.  Angora rabbits were one of the French nobility's favorite animals during the mid-18th century. 

In 1944, ARBA officially separated angora rabbits into two breeds--English angora and French angora. 

Angoras are bred for their wool, which is removed by shearing, combing or plucking. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

No Blogpost Today Because ...

I created a new page about the kits for sale!  So click on the "Pages" button  and take a look!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

4-H Christmas Party

For our 4-H Christmas party, we went bowling at the Grand Sierra Resort.  Our best friends, who are also in our 4-H group, joined us.  Our 4-H group paid for everything, including dinner of pizza and soda.  In addition to bowling, we had a few contests--craziest hair, craziest socks, and ugliest sweater, all of which we did not participate in. 

We were all allowed to play two games.  It was our six-year-old friend's first time bowling, so we were planning to have the bumpers put up..  Unfortunately, the bumpers did not work in that lane.  We hoped to trade lanes for the second game, but we had a late start, and everyone else started their second games before we finished our first, so we could not trade. 

At the end of the bowling party, trophies were awarded for highest score, most strikes, most casually dressed, most gutter balls, and lowest score.  Our six year old friend won the trophy for the most gutter balls.  I won the trophy for the lowest score--20 points--which, of course, I was not aiming for. 

Friday, December 12, 2014


My kits are adorable. 

As I was gathering up my kits for picture day, I noticed an escapee... Anna. I saw that she had some blood around her shoulder area, so I brought her inside to investigate.  She had scraped herself in her escape from her cage.  I cleaned her up but could not actually find the scrape itself. 

Seeing as I already had my kits inside and was too lazy to take Anna back out, I decided to let her run around while I took pictures of my kits for today's blog post.  As I was setting up shots and taking the pictures, Anna photobombed almost every one.

One of the few good pictures

Stealth photobomber
Clueless photobomber

Shameless, brazen photobomber
I thought Snowball would have raised her better.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New and Improved Rabbit Chow

As the mom and administrator of Black Diamond Rabbitry, it is my job to try to make things easier here when I can. 

Pretty early on (as in, when making our rabbit chow for the first time), I decided the recipe was ridiculously difficult.  Of course, we got the recipe from a much larger scale breeder.  So it stands to reason that it's going to make a lot of feed. 

But this blog is for youth raising French angoras, and most of these youth are not feeding dozens of rabbits.  The larger scale breeders can mix their feed in horse troughs or massive barrels.  The rest of us have to deal with what we have on hand generally.  For us, that means Rubbermaid totes and four-gallon buckets from the donut shop. 

So, using the same recipe, I broke it down into more manageable quantities.  Life is much better now.

Here's the updated formula:

15    lbs 18% Purina Show
10    lbs 15% Bar Ale
2.5   lbs wheat
3.75 lbs barley
3.75 lbs oats groats (whole grain oats)
1.25 lbs black oil sunflower seeds
1.25 lbs calf manna

We also made some slight changes.  You'll notice we changed to Bar Ale for the 15% feed due to something we learned at the Gridley show from the angora ladies there.  Our friends forgot to bring food for their rabbits.  We were in a panic to find the right feed for them, and it was going to be a 45 minute drive, one way.  Not good.  The angora ladies said it wasn't such a serious matter to change the feed, as long as what we used was from the same manufacturer.  Our friends were using Purina Complete, and the nice angora ladies had some Purina Show, which they gladly shared with our friends. 

Because of supply issues (our local store never has the Bar Ale in stock that the banner outside their store advertises--grrrrr), we had a longer distance to drive to get it.  And because of that and what I perceive to be a collapsing economy and problems with JIT delivery, we thought it would be a good idea for our bunnies to have their pellets from two different manufacturers.  That way, if one suddenly becomes unavailable it will not be such a serious change in their diets. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Being a Midwife Is a Lot of Work

While Becky was at school yesterday, her does Duchess and Blue were kindling.  Blue built a beautiful nest for her three kits, only one of which, a REW, survived.  Thankfully, I was there when Duchess also kindled--four plump kits--on the wire cage bottom.  I quickly moved them into the nesting box in her cage.  She still needed to clean them, but seemed to be a little tired and wasn't going to finish cleaning the last one.  So I gave it to Blue to clean, and she did a fine job.  I believe that Blue will be the better mother, even if two of her kits did not survive. 

I thought Blue showed some signs of still having kits to deliver, so I went out to the bunny barn to massage Blue's tummy every ten minutes to help, if there were any more coming.  Blue quickly tired of this and took to trying to bite me and then outright refused to be handled in such a manner.  Fortunately, Becky came home. 

The reason I was very thankful that Duchess also had kits (we weren't ever sure if she was pregnant) is because one kit cannot keep warm alone, especially in the High Sierra desert in December.  Even two kits may not produce enough heat to keep warm.  So we decided to keep all five kits in one nesting box in the house by the fire.  Duchess will feed the kits in the morning, and Blue will feed in the evening.  This way they will get double the milk.  Hopefully they will grow nice and fat quickly.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Told You So, Part 2. Ugh.

Well, first off, let me say that by all appearances I was right about the kits.  The change in their droppings was due to the change in diet because of weaning.  All but one of the kits is hopping around and continues to gain weight.  One, the one whose color we can't figure out, continues to struggle a bit, but he has gained weight today.  Unfortunately, he isn't super active.  But now, as I have finished typing that, he is jumping all over me. 

However, Charlotte was also right.  Unfortunately.  Tootsie continued to deteriorate despite Charlotte's best efforts.  She passed away the next day in Charlotte's arms. 

We have no idea what was wrong.  She would not eat, and had not eaten for a few days.  She would drink, gladly, if Charlotte was feeding her with a medicine dropper.  There weren't any droppings strung together in her pan, like one would expect to find with wool block.  She didn't have a temperature, so there should not have been an infection.  I guess we'll never know.

So now Charlotte has a litter of kits that still need something only a mother can provide.  Fortunately, we have Snowball and her litter of kits, and they are all together now.  While the doe cages are a perfect size for one doe and her kits (about 30" x 60"), it looked a little crowded with 13 kits in there.  Each cage has two doors on it, so Charlotte put them together offset so that one door is free on each side and two doors are wired together in the middle.  It looks like a little bunny paradise now.
It's difficult to tell in the picture, but the kits are really zooming around in their paradise.

You can see the twist ties Charlotte used to wire everything together.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Told You So

"Told you so."  It's something that moms get to say every once in a while.  I got to say it again today.  Fortunately.

So, Charlotte starts the tears again this morning.  She can't help it.  She is very conscientious about checking all her rabbits and their kits and she loves each one of them as if it were the last remaining rabbit on the planet.

Tootsie has been a bit listless for the past few days.  But to my eyes, nothing seemed to be too off.  Her seven kits are now one month old and she has been weaning them.  I weaned my children at about 18 months.  Put me in a small room with seven eighteen-month old children and I think I'd be a little listless at best. 

But this is Charlotte and Tootsie we're talking about.  Charlotte can accept death, but only if there's nothing she can do about it.  Otherwise, we have to get help (within financial reason, of course).  And Tootsie?  Well, she really was pretty listless.  Normally, she's got a bit of an attitude.  She scares off my husband and sons.  Maybe she doesn't like men.  Maybe they're just scared because she grunts and is very chatty.  She really does talk.  And she'll warn people off if they need to go away.  But she wasn't doing anything like that today.  Her teeth didn't look great, her bottom was a bit messy, and so on.  Oh, and two or three kits had messy bottoms, too.  I told Charlotte that I thought it was all related to weaning.  At least as far as the kits were concerned, I was sure it was related to weaning. 

A good brood doe with seven month old kits is kind of valuable, financially speaking (from a teen's point of view), so it was off to the vet.

We are fortunate to have a vet who actually focused on exotics in her training.  She trained in England, where rabbits are a much bigger deal, so she has been a great help to us.  (I really don't recommend going to a vet who didn't spend much time on rabbits.  There is really no point.  It would just be a waste of money.)  We had a good visit and Dr. Plateman spent quite a bit of time checking Tootsie out--heart, lungs, intestines, temperature, teeth, abdomen, bottom--the works.  Her conclusion?  Tootsie's a little worn out from having seven kits!  She recommended some herbal supplement--I can't remember the name of it now (it's all the way in the kitchen, and I am dressed for bed).  If Tootsie's not looking much better in a week, then we should consider some lab work or cultures, but not yet. 

And the kits?  They are definitely just weaning.  And they can have some of the supplement, too. 

Told you so.  But it was good to hear it from Dr. Plateman.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Indoor Play Time for Little Bunnies

We usually have outdoor play time when it is warmer, but now that it is December we are doing indoor play time.  When the kits are young we don't want them going outside until they are older to make sure that they don't get too cold and indoor play time is easier for us because it is warmer.  We usually do this once a day when we weigh them.  Also we  like to take out our rabbits when they are young so that they get used to being handled.

We like to get our kits out of the nesting box to play and hop around.  It is cute to see them explore and sniff and climb things.  But we also have to be careful to make sure they don't go behind big pieces of furniture and get lost.  It is fun to try to keep track of all of them, since there are six of them going all different directions.  And we have to make sure we do not scare them or squish them when we are picking them up. 

We take the nesting box out of the doe's cage and let the kits hop around.  That way we will have all of them out at the same time so that we don't risk having any kits miss a feeding.  We always put our kits on the carpet because their muscles are still developing and if we put them on wood or tile they could develop splay leg. 

We take them out so they won't be skittish and will be used to people.  They also like to be handled daily and they need exercise.  Of course, they get exercise in their cage, too, but if you let them run around in the house, they can get used to your other pets.  It is also important to have all of the kits out at once because it lets you observe them as a group to compare and see if anyone is lethargic or looking sick.

Monday, December 1, 2014

There Is a Reason Why Rabbits Have Lots of Kits

The reason why rabbits have lots of kits is because some always die.  As you already know, Snowball lost four of her kits at birth.  Tomorrow the kits will be four weeks old.  We have always heard that the most common times for kits to die (after birth) are two days, two weeks, and two months.  We have never lost a rabbit kit after the first two days. 

That all just changed.  This morning, after taking care of my other animals, I went out to the garage to take care of Snowball and to weigh the kits.  I always weigh from darkest to lightest in colors.  So I always weigh Sven first, as he is the chocolate.  Then I put him back and got out Kristoff, who was still in the nesting box.  I figured he was still sleeping.  But then I found he was cold and stiff.  Just then my mom opened the door and told me it was time for breakfast.  I started to cry.  My mom asked what was wrong, but I couldn't tell her.  She came over, saw him, and felt him.  He was dead.  My mom went inside and put him in a bag so he could be buried.  I finished weighing the rest of my kits.  Charlotte had knit a bunny blanket and gave it to Kristoff so that he could be buried with it. 

My mom, my sister, and I don't know how he died or what happened.  He was doing perfectly well and gaining lots of weight.  He was one of the more lively ones and no one suspected anything was wrong with him.  Until today.