Exploring the world of fiber, one draft at a time

My posting can be as frequent or infrequent as my spinning, so be as patient as that fiber, sitting in my stash.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

A Bunny Update

I don't blog about my bunnies much anymore, but they are still very much a part of my daily life, and especially part of the time I spend on fiber related projects. And the last two months I have been spending more time on the bunnies, now that the weather is warmer. So I thought an update would be good.

I did not breed any rabbits this spring, so everyone in my barn are now adults of various ages. The ages range from a little over one year (born early last year) to one old man of nine. I currently have 18 bunnies. Each have their own cages, and the cages are in lines of four or six, so most have 'neighbors' They seem to like having neighbors, but like good neighbors, also like those good 'fences' (that is cage dividers) Two bunnies in the same cage (unless babies growing up together) usually mean a tussle, either for space or for the decision of who is on top (grin). But they like having the company of that bunny next door, and I try and keep the bunnies in cages in a row. That makes the feeding and watering easier too.

So since my barn has around 30 cages and since I am down to 18 rabbits, one of the ongoing projects the last two months has been to repair and clean cages and then move bunnies to a more consolidated group. The work is progressing, but very slowly. I work full time, so it means first I need a day off, and second, a day I am not just absolutely worn out from working, and third, reasonably nice weather. Once I get all three factors, it ends up I have about one day every other week to spend 4-5 hours working in the barn. But it progresses, and will eventually be done.

The other 'chore' of course is grooming rabbits. Many are to the point of needing plucked right now so I spent one day last week, grooming six rabbits. (As an aside to those that are not familiar with angora rabbits, they grow a coat, and then molt it about an average of three times a year. When the coat is molting, it is possible to just pull the fiber right off of the rabbit. This is one way that angora is harvested, the rabbits can also be sheared when the coat is to the right length. Plucking does not hurt the rabbit, if the coat is shedding. If the fiber comes out in my hand that means it is loose. If I did not harvest it, the rabbit could ingest the fiber while grooming itself, and cause it's death by woolblock.)

is a picture of one of my french does in full coat. Her name is Reboot, because my daughter found her out of the nest and chilled, warmed the rabbit up and it lived. So we call it Reboot.

Reboot has a wonderful coat. The color is called a blue, and the fiber averages six inches in length. The is some guard hair, which will be spikey when spun, but is not itchy. It is very very soft. I do spin most of my angora as 100% yarns, and use those yarns as accent brims on hats, or to knit a very warm scarf.

I raise two different breeds of angora, french and satin. Here is a picture of a satin buck in full coat. His color is chestnut with rufus (which means there are reds in the coloration)

Satins are known for their very intense colors and shine to the fiber. This happens because the hair follicle has a clear tip, which reflects the light and gives the shine. The intense color happens because the fiber length is on the average, shorter than the other angora breeds. When any angora rabbits fur grows, the color gets diluted the longer the fur grows. The tip is the most intense color (and can be a different color that the main part of the fiber) As the fur grows, the color changes to a base color, generally white or gray or tan. Genetics determine all this, and what color the rabbit is called is based on those genetics.

Since satins tend to have fiber lengths of around 3 inches, there is less amount of the base white or gray to dilute the color and it looks more intense.

This rabbit does not really have a name. Most of the rabbits in my barn are referred to mainly by their breed, color and sex. So he is my chestnut satin buck. I don't have any others like that so it can be a unique name for him. I did have identical ermine satin bucks in one litter, I guess rabbits could have twins. They are so identical, I had to name them. Ummm A and B. I never was very creative with rabbit names. It might be that the fun of naming them wore off after about five years of trying to think up names for that litter of eight. I have used the names of Santa's reindeers (I still have Vixen) and off course all of the common rabbit names (in fact I have two Jack's right now, one I had named, and one came with that name) One time I had to take a rabbit to the vet. Since this was a small animal practice, the receptionists ask immediately 'what is the animals name?' After a pause I said, I call her Lilac (that's the color of the rabbit). 'Funny name for a rabbit' was the reply :)

But named or not, these rabbits are very much a part of my daily routine. I spend much more time with them than the fiber would ever repay. It just makes me smile, when I go to one of the bucks cages to give them food, and they demand a head scratch instead.


1 comment:

Wendy said...

Just wanted to let you know that I enjoy your bunny tales. It was bittersweet to read about your rabbits tonight, as my last rabbit (a black Satin buck called Bluebell) died today. They were fun, but my rabbits were old when they came, and we didn't breed them. Some day we'll have rabbits again, but in the mean time I'll come back and read your bunny tales.