Black Diamond Kits

Black Diamond Kits
Sage's Kits, Nine Weeks Old

Monday, April 25, 2016

Gridley Show Report, 23 April 2016

First, the Gridley show was a huge success.  It was a triple open, triple youth held on Saturday the 23rd.
Judge Tracy selected Phantom for BOB in Show B.
We were hoping Phantom would get her third leg, and that Coal would as well.  They are now Grand Champions!  In Show C, the leg went to Phantom and Coal's baby, Heather (Lydia decided to keep her).  Best Opposite of Breed in the various shows went to Spook, Coal, and Nicholas (Sage and Muddy Buddy's kit).

Judge Ray chose Heather for BOB in Show C.

Now for more about the owners of Nicholas.  Though I was unable to attend, Lydia told me all about how refreshingly normal they are.  Melody and Tierza are very nice people who actually do many of the same things we do, such as felting soap, felting adorable little animals, spinning and knitting.  They also homeschool.  I'm betting they do many more amazing things which we do not know about.

Melody used a blower for the first time on her bunny, Nicholas.

Melody and Lydia with their rabbits

Lydia, Melody, and Tierza inbetween shows
I am proud to say that all of my "core" bunnies--Sage, Phantom, Maybelline, Coal, Muddy Buddy, and Ninja--are now Grand Champions.  We bred the first four here; the last two came from Black Oak and Frulingskabine.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Capital City Farm Days, April 21-22

The girls were invited back this year to share the wonders of angora rabbits with pre-school and elementary age children.   Outside there were meat rabbits, pigs, sheep, chickens, goats, and ducks.  We were inside with the spinners and weavers, 4-H clubs, Audubon Society, beekeepers, composters, and others.

The girls took two rabbits.  Roly-Poly was on his first ever outing.  He was the only surviving kit out of Charlotte's first litter of kits.  He also developed splay leg.  Most rabbits with splay leg are culled, but Charlotte just could not bear to do that, especially when he seeed to be such a happy, cuddly bunny.  We visited with the vet, and she told Charlotte that Roly-Poly would likely eventually develop arthritis.  Charlotte would know that it would be time to put him to sleep when he stopped eating and started losing weight.  So far, it's been two years and there hasn't been a problem yet.  Roly-Poly is just as cuddly and sweet as ever. 

The other lucky bunny today was Heath, one of Charlotte's junior bucks that is for sale. 

Three hundred school children gave those two bunnies a workout.  Friday should be a slower day.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Gridley Show Entry Deadline

Midnight tonight is the deadline for entering the Gridley show by email.  The cost is $10 per rabbit for three shows.  We have the Gridley showbook, but I haven't quite figured out how to post a link for it.  Email ( if you need it.  I'll be checking email often throughout the day.

The Gridley show is held at the Butte County Fairgrounds in a quiet area with parking right next to the building.  It's one of our favorite places for showing.

The girls are taking only five rabbits, so it will be a much easier trip.  Melody, a youth who is raising one of our rabbits, will also be there, so there will be at least six French angoras on the youth table.  There will be two seniors, one buck (Coal) and one doe (Phantom), that have two legs each.  They are the parents of Spook and Heather, who will also be on the table.  Heath (Charlotte's junior buck) and Nicholas (Melody's junior buck) are brothers, and they are cousins to Spook and Heather.  Their parents have ten legs between them. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Leaders' 4-H Show, 12 March 2016

I think I kept waiting for Charlotte to blog on this (Lydia was sick that day), but it's been a month now....

As for all 4-H shows, there is a mandatory check-in.  Ours ended at 8:30 (supposedly--I think they were still checking rabbits at 9:00).  It's a bit of a bummer for the angora people, because angoras are always last.

Showmanship takes place during the middle of the day.  There are usually a lot more novices and juniors than intermediates and seniors.
Charlotte does showmanship while Jennifer and Evan V. watch.

Charlotte got first place among seniors.
In the past Charlotte and Lydia have knitted small bunnies that they sell at shows to help support their rabbits.  Recently, Charlotte started felting little bunnies, and they are pretty darn cute.  I told her to make at least 15-20, but she didn't take me seriously and only had six or seven.  They were gone within two hours.  I sold two of my first felted soaps.

Later in the afternoon Kelly D. arrived from Montana to pick up her beautiful junior does.  We blogged about that last month. 

Evan V. won best of breed for French angoras with Black Diamond's Winchester.  Like we have said before, you can buy a good show quality rabbit from us, and he has beaten our rabbits a few times on the table.

Desi was a good, quick judge and we were on our way home by 3:00. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Show Report, West Coast Classic April 9

Lydia told me the camera batteries were dead, but clearly I wasn't listening.  As a result, the only photos I have from the show were the few that Jennifer V. took for me.  She is always rescuing me.  And if you want to see more pictures of the show, you can go to her blog at

Charlotte and Lydia entered their two best junior rabbits in the angora specialties, the only ones they thought they'd have a chance of being competitive.  And with open breeders who have been showing for decades, they were probably right. 

But as their juniors were both less than four months old, they didn't plan on getting any legs with them.  However, Charlotte was beyond thrilled to have Spook placed third, above Betty Chu's junior buck in two of the angora specialties.  Can't get much better than that.  Nice bunnies and nice girls.

Lydia's junior doe also did pretty well--she didn't place last among the junior does, so she was happy, too.

One of the black bucks getting checked out by Judge Hannah

 The girls put all their rabbits on the table for the youth show on Saturday.  Charlotte had Phantom, Coal, and Spook--all self blacks, and Lydia had Fudge, a chocolate, and Heather, a blue.  There were two legs awarded, and both went to Black Diamond rabbits!!!  Black Diamond's Winchester got his third leg towards his grand champion certificate, and Black Diamond's Hot Cocoa got her first leg--at less than four months of age--beating out her littermates that were also on the table. 

Judge Kevin checking out Heather, Lydia's self-blue junior doe.
The girls are often chided for selling the "best" rabbits.  Well, honestly, they can't keep all of them. They want their buyers to do well at the shows also.  
Judge Kevin checking out Coal, Charlotte's self black senior buck and sire to Hot Cocoa.
So while the rabbits that Charlotte and Lydia are raising didn't win legs, rabbits that Charlotte has bred and raised did do well.  And I was going to suggest clicking over to Jennifer V.'s blog for pics of Win and Cocoa, but there aren't any photos of Winchester?  How is this possible?!?!  I clearly need to sit Jennifer down for a little more training.

(So says the person whose camera batteries are dead.)

In other news, Charlotte sold one of her "water-damaged" bucks who is now growing out a fine coat and should do really well for his new owner, Kelly W., in the shows in Southern California.  And Lydia sold Fudge.  Fortunately, she is staying local so we shall be able to see her on the show tables occasionally.  (I don't like it when my girls sell rabbits that have been here so long.  It pulls at my heartstrings.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Breeding Day

The girls were swamped with school yesterday, so the breedings took place today. 

The happy couples are Snowball and Muddy Buddy, and Maybelline and Coal.  Muddy Buddy is a grand champion with four legs.  Snowball and Maybelline are awaiting registration papers to arrive so that we can submit the legs for their grand champion certificates.  Coal has two legs.  Hopefully he'll get the final leg needed for grand champion status before his kits arrive. 

The anticipated colors for Snowball (AaBbccDdE_) and Muddy Buddy's (aabbCcDdEe) litter are as follows:

REW                  50%
Self-black             7%
Agouti                  7%
Self-chocolate      7%
Chocolate agouti  7%
Self-blue               4%
Self-lilac               4%
Opal, lynx, black tort, chocolate tort 2% each
Lots of other colors less than 1% each

We cannot be as sure about the anticipated colors for Maybelline (aaBbC_ddE_Enen) and Coal aaBbC_D_E_enen).  Research has shown that the B and C genes are located close to one another on the same chromosome.  Coal is self-black; the black gene could only have come from his dam, a smoke pearl.  And so we theorize that his other c gene is chinchilla light.  Maybelline may also carry the chinchilla light gene.  However, it is probably best to keep in mind what ARBA judge Ray Stacy recommends:  Never breed for color.  Oh, and half of all kits should be brokens.  At any rate, the anticipated colors are:

Black                  33%
Blue                    33%
Lilac                   10%
Chocolate             5%
Black tort             5%
Blue tort               5%
Lilac tort               1%
Chocolate tort       1%
Lots of other colors less than 1% each.

Kits should arrive May 14.

Friday, April 8, 2016

West Coast Classic

The West Coast Classic show begins today.  We'll be on our way down there in about an hour to get set up, and then return at 5:00.  That's when the first show, an angora specialty, begins.  The girls have six rabbits entered in tonight's and tomorrow's shows, which include one all-breed show for youth and three angora specialty shows where they are competing against adults.  We'll see how their juniors do. 

As it is one of the largest shows in the country, there will be a lot of vendors.  We need to pick up at least one four-hole carry cage.  We don't normally use them for our rabbits--they are a bit on the small side.  But in the event of an emergency, it would be very helpful.  The only disaster around here that really concerns us is fire, and last year we had two lightning strikes that started fires too close to home.  One was directly across the street from us, and the other, two months later, was three houses up from ours.  We decided that another four-hole carry cage was in order. 

Hopefully, it will be a matter of having it and not needing it--ever. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Felted Soap Instructions

In the previous post I included two links to pages with instructions for felting soap.  The basics are about the same everywhere, but I thought it would be helpful to share our experience as well.  And I decided to take lots of pictures along the way to illustrate how we made our felted soap.

First, I started with Yardley Cocoa Butter soap.  It lathers up really nicely.  As of two weeks ago, it could be purchased from Walgreen's online for 99 cents per bar.

Washed alpaca fiber

Alpaca fiber carded with hand carders. 

Blue alpaca dyed with commercial dye.  Green alpaca dyed with Lemon-Lime Kool-Aid.

Wrap the fiber around the bar vertically.
Then wrap the fiber around the bar horizontally.

Lay some colored fiber on top, if desired.  

Grab a knee-hi from your drawer.

Carefully stretch the knee-hi over the fiber-wrapped soap to hold the fiber in place.  The knee-hi is not essential to making felted soap, but it makes the whole felting process much easier and much faster.

Dip the soap into a bowl of the hottest water you can stand.  For me, that's our hottest tap water.  Squeeze the nylon around the soap bar to get the water all the way in.  Rub the bar firmly with your fingers, back and forth or in circular motions, to start felting the alpaca fibers.  

Continue rubbing all around the bar for about three minutes.  You should get a pretty good lather going.  (Sorry, I forgot to take this picture.)

Carefully remove the nylon.  The fiber around the soap may still be wrinkly.  Continue rubbing all around to work out the wrinkles.  You may need to dip your soap in the hot water a few times as you work.   

When all the wrinkles have been worked out, set the soap aside to dry. 

Up to this point, you have probably been wondering when the angora comes in, because, after all, this is a blog about raising angoras.  Well, just be patient.

I made a few bars of soap felted with a mix of angora and alpaca.  I decided that in the future, the fibers would have to be well blended before felting a bar of soap again.  The felted soaps are pretty ugly, so they aren't pictured.

I really wanted to like the bar of soap felted with 100% angora.

Angora fiber dyed with Lemon-Lime Kool Aid.

Carding the fiber

100% angora on this bar of Ivory Soap.  I just didn't like it.  It's not got enough scrub power for me.  But it might be perfect for those with delicate skin, like babies or the elderly.

But because this is a blog about angoras, I still had to work in angora fiber. 

So this is one of my first attempts at needle felting.  The bunny is angora; the rest is alpaca.

I like this one better.

In case you were wondering how I did the bunny, I'll show you.

First, I found some clip art online.  I put a sheet of copy paper on the computer screen and traced the clip art.  My idea had been to cut out a rabbit and then trace it, then needle felt.  Well, it is difficult to make an outline on felt that will not show through or bleed through.  (No picture.)

Next, I decided to try placing the outline over the fiber over the bar of soap being felted.

That didn't work, either.

Finally, I tried placing the fiber over the cut-out, over the soap and then needle felting carefully all around the edges before removing the cut-out.  That worked well, if I do say so myself.
I think these bunny soaps are so darn cute.