Black Diamond Kits

Black Diamond Kits
Sage's Kits, Nine Weeks Old

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Reno Rabbits All Community Rabbit and Cavy Spring Show 2016

We had a great show last week at Rancho San Rafael.  There was a little bit of wind, but at least the sun was shining and the weather was nowhere nearly as bad as what had been forecast.

I was busy setting up the snack bar while Charlotte and Lydia visited with friends and generally took their time.  Fortunately--very fortunately--I decided to take a look at the order in which the various breeds would be called to the table.  After the crossbreeds, pets, and DQs, angoras were first!!  That definitely has never happened before!

So I got a friend to man the snack bar while I ran off to find my girls and the other angora people.  And get everybody grooming furiously. 

Baked Potato, Heath, Heather, and Hot Cocoa

There were four French angoras on the table--Charlotte had Heath, Lydia had Heather, and the Evan and Jennifer V had Baked Potato and Hot Cocoa.

Hot Cocoa dominated again.

Lydia got a perfect score on her showmanship presentation!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Determining Which Kits To Keep

So one of the girls' buyers has had her first litter of kits and the time is coming to decide which to keep, and which to sell.  I thought she had some good questions, and so I thought I would also post my reply to her here.
First off, I would wait a bit on making determinations about which rabbit is best for a few reasons.  1.  I'm guessing that you are not super experienced in assessing rabbits, so you need to have other opinions; 2.  Asking your 4-H counselor is a good place to start, but while s/he may be experienced in assessing rabbit bodies, the rabbit body counts for less than 50% of the points in showing, so assessing wool is really important, too (though it is hard to do on a junior); 3.  Some rabbit people favor the English angora body over the French angora body, and that's just the way they assess French angoras.  So someone who favors an English angora type might diss what others would consider a great French angora type; 4.  We have seen rabbits that started out looking like they were poor to fair turn out to be really great rabbits.  In conclusion, I think two and even three months is too soon to make a final determination about which kits are best.  If you bring them all to the show next month, we have a few people we can ask to give opinions on them, and that way you'll have a better idea.  And then if you have entered them in the show, you can also get the judges' opinions. 
Of course, the judges' opinions are also crazy, as you will eventually experience for yourself.  Twice, in two different triple youth shows, we have had three judges assess Phantom, one of Charlotte's does.  One judge disqualified her (overweight), one judge hated her, and one judge gave her the leg.  Two different shows, months apart.  Some judges just have bad hair days or are just weird or something, I don't know.  The one judge who hated her last month said he didn't like her coat, and made it sound like Charlotte wasn't taking care of her.  So I told Charlotte this, and she was puzzled, but didn't do anything about it.  A few days later it was time to pluck Phantom.  She yielded over four ounces of fiber, and not a single mat or even tiny tangle anywhere, and a staple 5-6 inches long.  I can hardly wait to spin it! 
Charlotte thinks there is no decision between trying to build a good herd or trying to have the best rabbit to show.  She sees them as being the same.  I think they are a little bit different, based on what your purpose for raising them is--and my purpose is a little different from my girls' purpose.
My purpose is to have an abundant supply of the warmest, softest spinning fiber for making clothes for my family while at the same time having a breed of rabbit that can be used for meat if/when we have to.  Now to accomplish this, we have to have the healthiest rabbits possible, and part of that includes having a good body.  I don't know yet, or if, it is critical for rabbits to have a good set of shoulders or proper midsection to be healthy.  I do know that hindquarters should never be pinched.  For my spinning purposes, I also don't care whether the rabbit's coat or toenails are the right color.  But that is really important in showing.  And it's somewhat important for selling.  If you're selling to spinners, color doesn't necessarily matter.  But you may have to reduce your asking price a bit for an unshowable rabbit. 
There is a lot to consider here.  Hope you don't get overwhelmed!

Breeding Day, Again

Charlotte kept a vigilant watch, and we all kept hoping that Maybelline would produce a litter.  But, alas, our hope was vain.

So Maybelline got bred with Spook this time.  Or I should say Charlotte has been trying to breed them.  Maybelline appears to have zero interest.  Charlotte and Spook will keep trying.

On the other hand, the other chosen couples have all been very willing participants.  Phantom and Muddy Buddy and Sage and Coal have been bred.  All are grand champions and all are proven, and hopefully all will produce litters.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Kits Arrive!

Snowball kindled four kits yesterday morning, three REWs and a chocolate.  Unfortunately, the chocolate was stillborn. He was a huge kit, and it looked like his neck may have been broken in delivery. 

But at least Lydia has three REWs, who are, by all appearances, very healthy and happy.

Monday, May 9, 2016

We Are Spinners First

Like all spinners, we want the very best fiber.  However, opinions can vary on what exactly is best

For us, best is plucked, not shorn.  This is one reason why we chose French angoras.  We don't want a blunt end caused by scissors or clippers.  That blunt end felts more easily, and it can also be a little irritating in clothing.  We use angora in order to have the softest fiber possible; it seems silly to then clip or shear that fiber and introduce some itchiness into the garment.  In addition, we don't want fibers of varying lengths that will eventually shed from the clothing.

We are spinners first, meaning that good quality fiber is very important.  This includes keeping rabbits as healthy as possible.  Unhealthy rabbits do not produce good fiber.  Also important to us is raising and maintaining show quality breeding stock, so that buyer doesn't have to take our word that a given rabbit meets standards for the breed.  In judging French angoras, fiber is 55% of the score.  For a rabbit to become a grand champion, at least two judges on at least three occasions have to indicate that this is a very nice rabbit. 

The fact that we are spinners first also means that we will raise and sell rabbits that are unshowable for a variety of reasons, but especially if a rabbit is only the wrong color.  Some of the most beautiful rabbits we have seen have been DQ'd for being an unacceptable color.  These rabbits can't be registered, but they can still pass on their good genetics and their offspring can be registered. 

Because we are spinners first, a lower maintenance coat is very important to us.  The girls don't wish to spend 15-30 minutes grooming every day.  They don't show for the sake of showing.  They show to learn from other angora breeders and judges and to get judges' opinions of individual rabbits.

Some people will disagree with our approach and our opinions. 

And that's ok.  It's a free country.