Baby Bunners Day Two

Two day old angora baby bunnies

Cheiri & Gomez’ babies at Day TwoCheiri & Gomez’s babies are nicely plump and not wrinkly anymore so they’ve been fed.  Yay Cheiri!   At this stage, if baby bunnies aren’t fed by the mom they’ve got a very little chance of survival.  Even if they do manage to survive, without the mother’s first milk, they don’t do well as adults.   Had there been more than one litter, baby bunnies can easily be fostered to a different mum, however Cheiri is the only one who made a litter.  Fortunately, they are being fed so that’s a huge relief.

As you can see, the little pink one is less pink today and has a tiny bit of white starting to show.   The blacks also are a little blacker, but it’s harder to notice.  The pink to white is a much more noticeable change.  I should have weighed them yesterday, although it’s hard to tell the black ones apart.  I could weigh the REW each day since that one is easy to tell apart.

Cheiri started with the little Ruby Eyed White one (the pink one) yesterday around 9 am.  The REW (pronounced ‘roo’) was followed by a black one about forty five minutes later.  Then when I checked several hours later (mom buns prefer that you not hover around while they’re doing this sort of thing) three more black ones were there.   So the whole litter size is five baby bunnies!  Yay!  That’s about an average litter size for an English angora.  Four to eight is a usual size, the biggest litter we’ve ever had here has been twelve.

This would indicate that the new diet is helping, perhaps, although they were only on it for the last half of their pregnancy.  I’d thought the Nutrena 18% Performance Rabbit pellets would be a good thing for pregnant mums, but perhaps not if the alfalfa had been sprayed before being harvested.  Nutrena said in reply to an email that they relied on the farmer’s to meet USDA and food safety standards and such.  Basically, they don’t know if the alfalfa had been sprayed or not.  The before harvest spray was made legal in 2011, so there’s been time for the practice to become widespread.  In any case, Cheiri had been bred two days after the others on April 6th so she had two extra days while pregnant on the organic diet.  The bunnies got the organic alfalfa pellets augmented with calf manna and black oil sunflower seeds starting on April 18th.   Cheiri had two more days of organic pellets than the other prospective mums and she had a litter.   This isn’t conclusive evidence, but it’s giving me hope that maybe the lack of babies problem has been solved.

As noted, this isn’t definitive by any means, but  we will continue to observe litter frequency and size on the new diet.   As a further sort of test, two does were bred yesterday.  Gayle,  who has been part of the general herd still eating the last of the Nutrena 18% pellets, has been bred with Sydney, who has been eating the organic diet since April 18th.   Sirocco, who has been on the organic diet since April 18th, has been bred with Gomez, who has never been eating the Nutrena pellets.

Of course, this doesn’t take into account where the alfalfa for the other feed that Gomez is eating has come from.  It’s a Purina feed, but wouldn’t Nutrena and Purina source their alfalfa from whatever the farmers bring them?  Is it also tainted with the before harvest spray? Or do they have their own fields that they harvest?  Maybe some of each?   I don’t know enough about how the feed mills make feed, to even have much of a guess, but if they start making babies on the organic feed, well, then it looks like they will all be getting organic feed.

After we get the baby bunnies appearing again as they should, then perhaps I can look into how feed affects the fiber they produce.  Flamingos are fed special feed so they turn pink, maybe there’s something bunnies can be fed to help them have denser colors to their wool or perhaps more shine or softer fiber?

Fresh baby bunnies!

two baby bunnies in nest
Just born!

Cheiri and Gomez are now parents!  Woot!  This is Cheiri’s second litter and Gomie’s first.

The pink one will hopefully grow up to be an albino bunny – white with ruby eyes which we usually call a ‘REW’ or ‘roo’.  The black one will be a black bunny.   If they survive, there’s all sorts of things that can go wrong when they’re this young.

When this picture was taken, the pink one was about half an hour to forty five minutes old and the black one about four minutes old.   The picture was taken about twenty minutes ago, so there may be more, it’s still early yet.  Not quite sure how long it takes a doe to complete a litter.

I’d gone out early this morning to check on the buns and Cheiri had the little roo baby.  I’d given her some calf manna and black oil sunflower seeds as a treat and she was chowing down on them while I checked her nest.  There was just the one baby at the time and since she was chowing down, I thought perhaps there’d be just one.

Then I went out to take a picture of the baby and she was in the nest so I left her alone and watered the new garden instead.

raised bed garden with new sprouts
New Garden seeded two weeks ago

It doesn’t take too long to water a small garden and when I went back to see if Cheiri wanted some ti and mulberry leaves she was out of the nest area and there was a new baby in the nest.  Yay!

This is the first litter we’ve had in about a year and the first since we’ve switched to organic alfalfa pellets.   Although, Cheiri would have been on the old diet for the first week of her pregnancy, but Gomez was always eating a different brand of pellet.  I don’t know yet if this would have happened anyway or if it’s the result of the new diet.

Cheiri had been with Gomez for a few days and had she had a litter from the first day she was with him, it would have been two days ago.  So of the five bred does, she’d have had less time pregnant (by two days) at the time of the switch over to the new organic diet.

It’s so good to see baby bunnies again!  Hopefully these will be fed and turn out well.  Baby bunnies are extremely delicate.  If they do well, we will probably keep both of them unless they’re both bucks, then one buck may go to a new home.

Grass Mustache!

Cheiri with a grass moustache
Cheiri with a grass mustache

This is Cheiri with a grass mustache!  Yay!  When female rabbits are getting ready to build a nest, they gather up grasses to line the nest.  Which gives them a ‘grass mustache’ and is a really good thing if one is hoping for baby bunnies.  She’s actually quite a few days early for this, though, usually a doe will build her nest about four days before having babies and she’s not due until May 4th.

Sandy has been pulling wool, which is another thing prospective bunny moms do.  So hopefully we may have two litters this round.

Both of them were bred to Gomez, a black buck on loan.  He’s been eating a different feed than the Nutrena 18% “Performance” rabbit feed that the rest of the herd has been eating.  Since he brought a half bag of his feed with him, he’s been eating the same feed.  He met up with Cheiri, Sandy, Sirocco and Cocoa Puff, so he was a busy boy.  Two of them, Cheiri and Sandy are making nests so we are really hopeful of some new litters the first week of May.

This is Hillside Sirocco getting fuzzy. She’d molted down to almost nothing earlier

This is Sirocco, who has also been with Gomez, but she hasn’t started building a nest yet.  Still, the other two are days earlier than usual for nest building and some never build a nest at all, so we still don’t know if she will be a mom bunny or not.  However, her coat is growing in as an angora coat.  She’d molted to a very short coat and had a very clean molt, so I wasn’t quite sure what she was going to do when she grew in her new coat.  If she has a litter we will probably keep them all to see if they also will molt cleanly.

Looking back over the database, in the past twelve months, there have been 18 matings.  (This doesn’t include the current five we are waiting to see if there will be a litter.)  Of those 18 matings, only two produced a litter and both of them were a litter of 3.  The first litter was one live birth and two stillborn.  The second litter was three live births but then the dam didn’t make any milk to feed them so we lost all three.  Which means one new bunny in the past twelve months!

According to our database, we had 23 matings in 2012.   Seven of them were unsuccessful, although all but one of the unsuccessful matings were with the same doe.  She never did have a litter so it was probably something wrong with her and not the mating procedure.  So, figure she’s a barren doe for whatever reason, remove the six matings with her, that leaves 17 matings, only one of which didn’t take.  There were 79 offspring in 2012 out of 17 matings.  So that’s an average of about five bunnies per litter.  Using the same average, we should have had about 85 baby bunnies in the past 12 months.

In 2013, there were six matings, four unsuccessful and the two litters were of 4 and 7.    That’s a one out of three average.

In 2014 there were 14 matings and only four of them were successful.   Those were a litter of 10, 8, 6 and then 1.   That’s one litter out of 3.5 matings, a little higher average than 2013.  And a higher litter size of 6.25 average.  Wish I would have kept records of what they were being fed at these times.

In 2015 there were 15 matings and only five were successful.  That’s back to the one litter in three matings ratio.  The results were a litter of 4, 5, 4, 5 and 5.  Average litter size of 4.6, so that’s less than 2014.

In 2016 there were 24 matings and only eight were successful.  Back to the one in three ratio.  The resulting litters were 7, 1, 2, 3, 7, 6, 3 (two stillborn), & 3.  That’s an average litter size of 4 if the still borns are included.

Of the litters that were supposed to be born this  year, the six early January ones didn’t show up.  The four for early April didn’t show up and we are still waiting to see how the ones which are supposed to show up in early May will do.   However, Cheiri with a grass mustache is a good hopeful sign.

 

Bunny Berries!

Another reason for keeping bunnies is so there will be a ready supply of ‘bunny berries’ when setting up a new garden.

picture of a raised bed garden

New garden April 22nd, 2017It may not look like much yet, but hopefully there will be all sorts of things sprouting there really soon.

It’s about eight feet by four feet and 32″ deep at the front.  It’s been dug into the hillside and then lined with weed mat to keep weeds out.  It’s a somewhat appalling amount of work for the size of garden that it is, but once it’s set up  it’s pretty much good for years.  It never gets walked on so it doesn’t get packed down.

There’s a layer of bunny manure, which I like to call ‘bunny berries’ at the top two layers of bricks.  That’s 16″ deep fertilized with bunny manure.  There’s some oyster shell scattered in the lower levels, I should probably put some on the top, too.  We have fairly acidic soil and the oyster shell mellows that out.

I should also dig in ‘bio-char’ which is basically just charcoal.  That traps the nutrients (just like a charcoal filter traps things in a water system) and holds them for the plant roots to find.  We have a lot of rainfall, so nutrients wash out quickly.

Tomato from seeds given by Joey from Maui
Tomato from seeds given by Joey from Maui

The first plant in the new garden is a potato leafed tomato plant that was sprouted from seeds that were given to me by Joey on Maui.  He enthused about it and he gets interesting plants so we will see how it does.  It’s supposed to be a really tasty tomato so I’ll grow it out all by itself until I can get some more self pollinated seeds.  Then I may plant another variety of tomato or two and not save seeds from them since they’d cross pollinate.

The fence is around the garden to keep the chickens out.  Once the plants get established, a chicken wandering through isn’t overly terrible.  Not to be encouraged, but not terrible.  At this stage when the seeds are just sowed, a chicken can scratch them all up and cause chaos.

There’s the Joey’s Tomato, Good Mother Hubbard beans, sugar beets, big cylindrical beets, another green bean, kyoto carrots, tendercrisp celery, red curly kale, a red and a white short day length onion, five different types of lettuce and some hulless oats.  Just a little bit of each, some of them – such as the oats – is mostly to produce more seed.

One of the main reasons I’ve been working on setting up this garden has been a place to grow greens for the bunnies.  There have been no litters for the past several breedings and I’ve been suspecting it’s feed related so it seemed a good idea to grow bunny food.  Then I’d know exactly what’s in it.  However, we went past the Waimea feed store and:

picture of a label from a bag of organic alfalfa pellets
ORGANIC alfalfa pellets

ORGANIC alfalfa pellets!  This should be entirely GMO and RoundUP free!  Yay!  We will see if the bunnies start having litters again when fed with organic feed instead of the other feed that we couldn’t find out where it was sourced.

They don’t seem to like these pellets as much as the others, though, they seem to toss a lot of them out of the feeders.  Although that may be because they are also getting some Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (usually just called BOSS among folks discussing feed) and calf manna along with the pellets so they dig through the pellets to get the other tasty bits.  Which then wastes the pellets since they fall through the hutch floor.  Sigh!  Guess I need to get some small separate feeders for the little bits of BOSS and calf manna.

Well, it’s a start, we may not see the May 4th bunnies since they’ve just started being fed the new feed, but hopefully the ones after that will show up.  I wonder if counting  your bunnies before they’re born is as bad as counting your chickens before they’re hatched?

Happy Spring!

Not that we pay all that much attention to seasons, but spring is a good time of year.  More sunshine = more happiness!

Hillside Farm bunny hutches April 2017
Hillside Farm bunny hutches April 2017

It almost looks like they have lights in their hutch now.  Some new neighbors moved into the deserted house next door and they’ve been cleaning and clearing.  They’ve thinned the mock orange hedge behind the bunny hutch so now light comes through.   The bunnies should have more ventilation and a better view now.

CMU block garden dug into hillside
New really raised bed garden

It being springtime and all, it seems a good time to set up a new garden area.  I’ve found raised bed gardens to be really productive.  Not only is it a smaller area to water and fertilize, but harvesting is much easier when you don’t have to fuss around at ground level.

The wire bunny cage is in there being used as a screen to screen out rocks and roots and such from the soil that was dug out of there to make room for the new garden.   The soil was dug out of the area and weed mat was spread across the bottom and sides of the raised bed.  Makes it ever to much easier to maintain when there’s not weeds moving in from the bottom and sides later.  The new garden area will be the area inside the black liner.  It’s roughly eight and a half by four and a half feet so it’s a pretty small garden, but with enough water and fertilizer, it can grow quite a bit.

The other good thing about these particular raised beds is that they are also terracing the hillside.   We are ‘Hillside Farm’ after all, one would expect some hillside in there somewhere and the gardens are going in pretty much the steepest part of the yard.  This is just the backyard ‘farm’, we did used to have a real farm on a hillside, but the bunnies were the only productive thing on the leased farm land so we gave up the farmland lease and now are backyard bunny micro-farmers.  Much closer to home and easier to take care of and no tractors necessary, although I do miss the backhoe.  Anyway, enough of history and now back to the new garden.

The front of the garden is four layers of bricks.  Each layer is 8″ tall, so that’s 32″ in front.  A lovely height to pick lettuce, don’t you think?  The back of the garden will be one layer high, all of 8″.  Considering the garden is only about three and a half concrete blocks deep, it rises two feet in four and a half feet.  Guess I should put some steps along the sides going up.  There may be another raised garden bed on the hillside behind it.  Either that or a short retaining wall of some sort.  Not sure what the overall rise is up to that mac nut tree, maybe thirty foot rise?

the start of a raised bed garden dug into the side of a hill as a terrace
New Garden April 2017

That’s as high as the front wall of the new garden will be and you can’t see from the photo, but it’s halfway full of soil.  The big pile in the picture is actually behind the new garden.  The new bunny hutch will eventually be up the hill under that dark tree up there.  That’s a macadamia nut tree and makes nice dense shade.  We’ve got a road to up there on the other side of the property and will be building a house up there at some point, but all of this is eventual sorts of stuff.

If the rain would stop today, then more work could be done on the garden, but it may be several days before more gardening gets done.  Fortunately, we don’t have much deadline on when to plant around here.

Interesting Conversations

chocolate mum rabbit with black baby rabbit
Cocoa with baby Gayle

The last baby bunny born here was baby Gayle in a Litter of One.

I just had an interesting conversation.  It may have started out ‘before coffee’ but it was worth waking up for.   Actually, it wasn’t all that early in the morning, I’d slept in really late.  Ooops!  So it’s not like folks are calling up while it’s still dark out or anything.  But, anyway, I had an interesting chat this morning with another bunny person.

She has several different breeds of bunnies and is hoping for an angora as well sometime soon.  Which is partly why she was calling.  However, she’d been noticing a lack of litters as well as really small litter sizes among her bunnies.  Reliable mum rabbits weren’t having litters at all or instead of eight or ten babies, there’s one or two.   Which is the same problems we’ve been having over here, too.

Talking together, we discovered that she’d switched over to the higher protein feed from the same source we use about a year and a half ago.  Which was several months before she noticed the decreased litter sizes.   We’ve both been using Nutrena’s 18% bunny pellets and we’ve both noticed significantly decreased litter amounts and sizes starting about a year and a half ago.  Of course, this isn’t proof by any means, purely anecdotal ‘evidence’ (also known as gossip, I suppose), however, we both noticed the same thing.

I’d been thinking that the alfalfa the feed is made from has probably been sprayed with a herbicide to cut down on weeds.  You’d think weed free would be a good thing, and presumably the herbicide is not harmful to the creatures eating it.  However, from what we’re experiencing, it may affect fertility.  With horses, how many of them are being bred?  How many are fed a pure pellet diet?  Since the majority of the alfalfa grown would be going to feed horses and cattle (do cattle get fed alfalfa hay and pellets?) or other large animals, I suspect the bunny feed accounts for a very small percentage of the alfalfa crop.  Of the people feeding pellets to bunnies, how many of them are breeding the bunnies?  Well, if they’re growing bunnies for meat, then almost all of them, but if they have a bunny for a pet, then very few of them.  So for the alfalfa growers, decreased fertility among the animals eating the crop probably isn’t a problem.

I’m also suspecting that the folks who make the feed don’t ask the farmers specifically how the alfalfa was grown.  If it shows up clean and weed free, they’re gonna be thrilled, I’d expect.

This had also happened about the same time we’d moved to the new house here, so I’d thought maybe it was the change in location having something to do with decreased litter size.  Maybe the bucks had overheated since they didn’t have as dense of shade as before?  Maybe they didn’t like their new hutches?  Maybe the herd was getting older?  I’d been looking all over for the answer and when kicking around at some other bunny sites online, someone mentioned herbicide used on the crops made into feed and decreased fertility.

I asked our feed store if they knew the source of the alfalfa in the pellets.  They didn’t think even the feed mill would be able to answer that one.  If it was a concern, then ‘organic’ feed would probably (not ‘certainly’ notice, just ‘probably’) would be free of any herbicide residue.

Ah, now I remember.  I originally found out about this on a gardening web site.  They’d said that there was enough herbicide residue in some of the feeds to kill off gardens if you used too much of the manure from animals fed the feed grown with herbicide.  I’d originally been concerned because I use the bunny manure as almost my entire source of fertilizer.  That wasn’t directly related to lack of litters or litter size at all.

I haven’t noticed that effect on the garden, yet.  Perhaps bunny fertility is more sensitive than gardens?

After the conversation, I think I’m gonna have to revise my earlier thinking.  I’d thought that the higher protein feed would be less likely to have herbicide grown alfalfa (if the mills even tracked that sort of thing) since it would be fed to the animals more likely to be bred.  So, I’d been feeding the breeding herd the 18% and giving the regular feed to the non-breeding herd.  After the conversation this morning, she’d said she noticed the lack of fertility from switching to the higher protein feed.  Since both the regular and high protein feeds are made by the same mill, I’m guessing both of them are sourced from the same alfalfa crop.

I’ve been feeding the breeding herd a higher percentage of forage, they may have to switch to entirely forage fed.  I’ll also have to switch to an entirely different brand of feed, but do different mills use alfalfa grown with herbicides?

If bunnies have been fed herbicide laced alfalfa pellets, does the herbicide eventually work it’s way out of their system?  Will they become fertile again on a different diet?  Can bunnies be bred to be fertile while eating herbicide laced feed?  Baby Gayle is the last bunny born here and she came from a litter of one.  If she’s bred will she also have small litters?  Will she have any litters at all?

Gayle is five months old now, she’s about old enough to have a litter now.  Since Gomez joined the herd and has been fed a different brand of pellets, if Gayle meets up with Gomez, will she have a litter?  That would indicate that if the fertility problem is feed based, it’s also a lack of fertility in the males and not the females.

I’ll pick up an entirely different brand of pellets and feed those to the bucks and breeding does along with the increased amount of forage.  I’d switched the breeding herd to the higher protein feet, but now I’m thinking an entirely different brand of feed.  Although, since we don’t know if they don’t all source their feed from alfalfa grown the same way, we don’t know if it will make a difference.

If anyone else out there has noticed the same sorts of things, it would be interesting to hear from you!

 

Maybe May Day Bunnies

Well, actually, it’d be May 4th, but that’s close enough to May Day that if the litters appear we’d probably have to name them after flowers.

 

Bored with grooming Sirocco, yawning.

This is Sirocco, an 11 month old chocolate agouti doe.  She’s one of the ‘atmospheric conditions’ named bunnies, so she was born last year.  She is the cleanest molting angora I’ve ever seen.  Usually, they will molt, but the wool gets all tangled into mats and stays clumped on the bunny if it’s not taken off by someone.  Sirocco will molt clean with no clumps.  Very strange, but kinda nice to not have to worry about getting her coat off in time when she molts.  Loses the fiber but doesn’t harm the bunny by having clumps of hair getting them all tangled up.

Sirocco met up with Hillside Gomez.  He’s Janet’s brother and came from the People Named Year so he’s two years old.  Well, a year and seven months, but he was born in 2015.

This was his first time and he had the most amazed look on his face afterwards.  Shock and awe and he seemed dazed for awhile after.  Sirocco didn’t even roll her eyes, so that was a good thing, too, I guess.

Gomez after a haircut
Hillside Gomez

This is Gomie after a haircut so he’s not fuzzy at the moment.  Boy angoras need a haircut before meeting the girls or the hair gets in the way and no baby bunnies.  He will be fuzzy again soon enough.  Still, I don’t think he cares if he has a bad haircut if he gets to meet girl bunnies.

We’re not sure  yet if Gomez is on loan or is moving back to stay, we will find out when his person is back from vacation.  Sydney is also a here again gone again kinda guy, but genetically, it’s good to have visiting bucks.

Gomez has been a busy boy.  He’s met up with Hillside Sirocco as  you already know.  But, he’s also met up with Hillside Cheiri, Hiratas Cocoa Puff and Hillside Sandy Storm.

Cocoa Puff

This is Cocoa Puff, she is the mother of Tootsie, Gayle & Ginger and is four years and three months old at the moment.  We don’t know much about Gomez’s genetics at the moment since both his parents were black.  We will see all solid colors from this litter, no agouti or fawns.   Gomez’s dam had a recessive for chocolate, if Gomie got that, then there may be some chocolates from the litter.  Both his parents had a recessive for REW (albino) but we don’t know if Cocoa has it.  If she does and he does, then maybe REW.  We don’t really know what else, to look for, this may be an all black litter.

Chocolate agouti doe
Sirocco

Here’s Sirocco when she’s not yawning.  With a litter between Gomez & Sirocco, we will probably see half of them some sort of agouti pattern.  (white around the eyes, in the ears and undercarriage with each hair being multiple colors along the hair shaft).  If he has no recessives, then statistically speaking, half the litter will be agouti (wild rabbit color) and the other half will be solid black.  However, if he has the chocolate recessive from his mum, then there will be half chocolate colors in the litter.  Sirocco has the recessive for torts & fawns, but we don’t know if Gomez does.

For some reason I can’t find a picture of Sandy.  She’s the cutest little fawn doe, too.  Guess my next project will be to take pictures of every bunny and update the who’s who files.  Sandy Storm is fawn, which is an agouti color.  So we can pretty much expect the same possible colors between  her and Gomez as between Gomez & Sirocco, although more possibility of fawns if Gomez has the recessive for it.

Gomie also met up with Cheiri, who is also a black bunny.   She has a recessive for albino as well as tort/fawn, but we don’t know if Gomie has them.  Maybe this will be an all black litter?

Phineus Phogge also met up with Ginger, but I don’t know if it actually worked, generally it takes a little longer than two seconds.  Three at least!  I’ll let them meet up again later today and see if they can be more traditional about these sorts of things.

Later, I’ll probably see if Sydney wants to meet up with anyone, but I’ll have to check the database first to see who would be the best pairings.

If any of this works, then we should see baby bunnies on May 4th.

 

 

 

 

No April Fools

Well, we’d hoped for some new bunnies this past weekend, at least one of the four should have had a litter, one would expect.  However, there were none!  So, we will try again, however it would be really helpful if there was any idea as to why there’s no litters appearing.

Currently the theories as to why no babies is either the bucks got too hot last summer in the heat and are temporarily sterile.  Although they should have gotten over that by now, I’d hope.  Or that the feed has been contaminated with herbicide when the alfalfa was grown.  Apparently a lot of farmers are now using RoundUp Ready alfalfa or some such thing and the traces of herbicide left on the alfalfa affect fertility.  Doesn’t harm horses who are mostly the ones eating the alfalfa, but for bunnies, I guess they’re more sensitive than horses.  Also, probably not as many of the horse folks are trying to breed their horses.

So, we will try again and change out to a lot of forage foods for the breeding herd.

In other bunny news, Phineus Phogge just had his first birthday.

Phineus Phogge at one year old

Happy Birthday Phin!

He has some almost bright brown on his face now, not sure how that came about with his lilac color.  Lilac is technically a diluted chocolate, but he’s almost got a bright red mask on.  I suppose that could be a chocolate mask, but it looks more red than chocolate.   It’s about time for him to get another haircut, maybe it will change back to his more usual warm gray when his next coat grows in.  Bunnies do change their color somewhat between one coat and the next.

Well, I’ll go out and see which girls want to meet up with which boys and see if we can figure out the lack of baby bunnies.  This has been an ongoing difficulty for the past several years.

Hoppy Birthday Dozer

It’s Dozer’s Birthday!  He is now seven years old, not sure what that would be in human years but in bunny years that’s quite elderly.

Grinlow's Dozer

Grinlow’s DozerDoze is one of the foundation bucks for the herd here, he is one of the three who were imported from the mainland.  So, Hoppy Birthday Dozer!  He’s enjoying a birthday carrot and ti leaves.

We’re hoping for some new fuzzy faces here hopefully around the first week of April.  Dozer’s son, Phineus Phogge, has met up with Ginger and there should be baby bunnies in April.  Ginger isn’t the best mom, though, she’s lost litters before by not taking care of them.  In hopes of having surrogate mums if necessary, Sandy Storm and Cocoa met up with Sydney.

That was a week ago, I’m thinking maybe Myste wants to meet up with Phineus and maybe Suzie as well.  We need more white bunnies and Suzie meeting up with Phin may produce a white baby, if they meet up, maybe we will find out.

“Varietal sole source” yarn

What is it they call a type of wine made by the vineyard that grows the grapes?  There’s so many wine terms it’s hard to keep track of them, but wine and yarn may have some things in common.  There’s the common wines in cardboard boxes and then there’s the good stuff made in small batches?  Well, in any case, today’s effort is making a ‘varietal’ yarn of one type of fiber and it is ‘sole sourced’ from one individual bunny.  Ha!  Maybe we can now make yarn labels about as confusing as an exotic wine label?

For Hula Bunny Yarn, the bunnies get haircuts and all their wool is in one big group sorted by color.  Then it’s sent to a small family run mill, blended with some of the softest Merino sheep’s wool for elasticity and with some silk for shine.  Then it’s spun into fingering weight yarn.  The next batch will hopefully be three ply, so far it’s all been two ply, we will see if the mill was able to do a three ply when it gets back from the mill hopefully sometime this month.

However, there’s also Hillside Farm Yarn which is the handspun yarns made from whatever is produced here and whatever I feel like spinning up at the time.  Consistency isn’t exactly what I’m known for so most of the Hillside Farm yarn has a run of maybe four skeins at most of any one type.  Usually ‘one skein wonders’ type of patterns are best for Hillside Farm yarn, but maybe consistency will be something to work on this year.

Phineus Pogge

So we start out with one bunny.  In this case, it’s Phineus Phogge.  He got a haircut the day before yesterday so now he doesn’t look like his picture anymore.

This is Phineus’ fluff becoming a ‘sole source varietal’ yarn.  Woot!

Yarn on spinning wheel
100% Phineus Fiber

It’s not been processed in any fashion other than clipping it off of Phineus.  I may card it a bit or I may not, depends on how it looks at the time.  It will be washed after it’s spun to set the twist.  Then measured, weighed and labeled.  I haven’t had much Hillside Farm Yarn available for awhile, it doesn’t last long once it’s made although hopefully there will be some for me to knit with this year.  I knit a lot with Hula Bunny yarn so patterns can be made, but there’s not as much Hillside Farm yarn so when it sells, there’s usually not any left for me.

The main difference between the two yarns is the elasticity of Hula Bunny verses the non-elasticity of the Hillside Farm yarn.  Also, the Hillside Farm yarn is even softer than Hula Bunny.  Hmm, Hillside Farm yarn would make an excellent blanket!  That would be a lot of bunny fluff, though.  Maybe I’ll make some and try weaving it, I don’t think I’ve ever woven Hillside Farm yarn.  That would make an excellent weft yarn, not sure if it would be a good warp yarn, though.  Hmm, maybe spin up some cotton for the warp and angora for the weft?  Well, I’ll think about that project some more.

See, that’s the thing, when you make your own yarn you can sit there and think about exactly which fibers you want in it and exactly what characteristics you want your yarn to have.  I find yarn stores really limiting when all they have is a zillion colors of the exact same yarn.

I’d been spinning the Bleak Hall Sea Island white fiber yesterday and now today the bunny fluff feels much slicker than usual.  It doesn’t have the same amount of ‘catch’ that the cotton has.  Both fibers are somewhat similar lengths.  Both fibers are approximately the same diameter, both being fine fibers.  Neither fiber has much elasticity at all.  Yet the cotton has a lot more ‘catch’ to it and can spin finer without falling apart in the process.

I’d started with the same setup for yesterday’s cotton spinning and immediately noticed that the tension was set way too high for the angora.  Really lowering the tension helped and now we’re spinning up Phineus into a “Varietal” yarn.  Maybe I’ll have to think up a better term for yarn made from one specific fiber source?  Do wine terms work with yarn?  “Single Source” for yarn from one sheep or one bunny?  Anyone else know what the terminology would be?

First yarn for 2017

skein of white yarn
January 1st, 2017 Yarn

Bleak Hall Sea Island White cotton yarn.  Yay!  It’s a three ply thick fingering weight, haven’t a clue how many yards are in the skein nor how much the skein weighs.  It’s a soft and almost silky feeling yarn, not sure what I’ll make with it yet.  Cotton yarn doesn’t have much elasticity to it, so something that drapes instead of clings would be best.

The yarn in the back of the picture was a test skein made with Navajo ply.  That essentially creates a three ply yarn, but the lack of stretch in the cotton made the Navajo ply a bit tricky.  A true three ply was easier to do with this fiber.

Now I just have to wait for the plant to grow more bolls.  Fortunately Sea Island cotton seems to be a perennial cotton and just keeps making more cotton all the time after it gets started.  Of course, we’re in the dead of winter right now so there’s a little less sun light so the bolls are slowing down.  But, this is Hawaii, so there’s not all that much difference between daylight hours or temperatures throughout the year.

 

Bleak Hall Sea Island White

The fiber from yesterday has been spun into yarn.  Kinda a sport or even a worsted weight somewhat rustic yarn.  It’s soft but has almost no stretch to it at all.  Not sure what to make from it.

It was Navajo plied since I didn’t have two or three bobbins full of cotton to ply from.  The lack of any elasticity at all made the Navajo ply a bit more tricky than normal.  I’d never really thought about how the elasticity of the fibers changes how it’s spun.

It’s very soft, much softer than you’d expect a cotton to be.  I think the next skein will be a bit thinner and probably a three ply from bobbins instead of the psuedo-three ply from Navajo ply.

Maybe I’ll make a shirt from it, it would be a comfortable shirt, perhaps?  Something that can drape, it doesn’t have any ‘cling’ to it at all.  Since it’s 100% cotton, it’s not a particularly warm fiber so a scarf may not be the best use of it.

We’re really advanced with the cotton fiber prep so far.  Basically, it’s the kitchen table, a book in a reader, a cup of tea (although in the picture the cup is empty) and the cotton to have the seeds picked out of it.  Ginned, I think the word is ‘ginned’ but we have no cotton gin so it’s cotton picking, I guess?

Sea Island white cotton

Well, tis the season, I guess.  For cotton, anyway.  😉

It’s going on just over 506 days since the Bleak Hall Sea Island white cotton was planted and it’s still out there making bolls.   The first bolls showed up long ago, somewhere around day 148, I think it was.  Since then, it’s just kinda been making bolls.  Never a lot of them but usually a few here and there.  This is how much was out there today.

Bleak Hall Sea Island white cotton

I didn’t count how many, maybe eight bolls or so.  The seeds are still inside so it’s still densely packed in the photo above.

It gets fluffy when the seeds are picked out.  It has a shine to it, too, even though it’s cotton.  It’s also almost got a bit of crimp to it, but not much of that.  It’s very soft and almost silky.  I don’t know if that’s from it being freshly picked or if it’s because it’s Sea Island cotton.

These are how clean the seeds are when they’re picked out.   Each boll has three lobes and there’s multiple seeds in each lobe so there’s quite a few seeds in cotton.

Well, I’ll go spin it up now and see how it goes.

Early morning excavators

DSCN9223Well, it may not actually have been that much ‘early morning’ but it’s later in the year and the sun gets up later so I do, too.  Around 8:30 this morning, though, there was a diesel burring sound near to the front bedroom.  Not a loud diesel noise, a nice quiet burrrrr.  Well, that wasn’t too bad until there was a back up beeper.  Ick!   So with the annoying sound of back up beepers before morning coffee, I awoke.

 

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Dec. 12, 2016

This is three and a half hours of Mark & Excavator.  There used to be a hillside covered with trees and brush where the boys are standing.

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This is the view from the other direction.  There’s still thirty or forty feet of uncleared area behind and the excavator is near the front.  It’s rather a bit of a hillside, but hey, we’re Hillside Farm, after all.  Although, this wasn’t the hillside we started on, the original hillside was rather a bit bigger.  But, even though we’ve gone townside & residential, we’re still sticking to our Hillside roots.

A grapefruit tree and a macadamia nut tree were found, along with a lot of jacaranda, although the jacaranda are not going to be able to stay.  I would have liked one for the back yard, but they’re pretty much where we have to put the house.  Residential lots are pretty small and with only a third of an acre, there’s not much leeway on where things can go.

The bunnies can live up under the macadamia nut tree, though.  Eventually, it will take awhile before they have to move, probably a year or two.  The new hutches are movable, though, not like last move where we had to rebuild from the beginning.  I’ll draw in the place for the bunny hutches when drawing up the new house.  Not sure what that’s gonna look like just yet.  Once Mark gets done with the excavation, it will probably be easier to see how it should go.

We’re hoping for a lot of baby bunnies this upcoming January.  There have been six girls who have or are visiting Joey & Phineus.  Sydney has come down mountain for a Christmas vacation, although we don’t know if he’s going to visit with any girls over his vacation or not.  With six possible litters, if they all happened and if each one had six babies, that would be thirty new baby bunnies!  I’m not expecting more than one or maybe two litters of four to maybe six babies each, but with bunnies, you never know.

Let’s see, who met up with whom?  There’s only two of the bucks who met up with girls.  Phineus Phogge, our newest young buck met up with Suzie, Myste and Sirocco.

Since three of them have ‘atmospheric’ names, they were all born earlier this year.  This is the year of names that have something to do with weather or atmospheric conditions.  Joey and Suzie were from the year before where the bunnies were named after famous people, although I’m the one who gets to choose who is famous or not.  Joey is named for a friend on Maui who does some background acting in Hawaii 5-0 and other movies so he’s a famous movie star – at least, the bunnies think so but they don’t watch much TV.  Suzie is named after the Suzie who wrote ‘The Nervous New Owners Guide to Angora Rabbits’, a very famous person indeed!  Well, at least, if you’re an angora bunny.  Next year we may name them after textures or soft things.  Fluffy, Squooshie, Silky, Crimpy, Charmin; hmm, maybe we won’t.  Well, some sort of name theme will pop up, no doubt.

Other than Phineus, the other buck who met up with girl bunnies is Joey.  He’s a Ruby Eyed White with really nice shoulders and a cocky attitude.  An angora with an attitude somewhat reminds me of an angry butterfly, but it’s hard to be a tough guy when you’re soft and fluffy.  Joey met up with Cocoa Puff, Ginger & Sandy Storm.

We are hoping for more than one or two litters, but we will have to see how things go.  Sometimes the litters don’t show up in the late summer and early winter.

 

 

 

Three new ones

Ginger & Sydney babies
Ginger & Sydney babies

They don’t look like much yet, but there’s three new bunnies!  Ginger & Sydney had three babies today.  There’s a blue one (the lighter gray), a black one and what is either a tortoiseshell or a Ruby Eyed White, it’s hard to tell at this stage with the pink ones.

Hopefully she will feed them and they will survive, we will know within the next two days if they are likely to survive or not.

Sirocco and Sandy were also bred at the same time in hopes of having multiple mum bunnies available to take in unfed little ones, but neither one of them had a litter.   At least, not yet, anyway.

I don’t know if these will be the last three bunnies born here this year or not, it’s getting kinda close that the bunnies should have been out on dates if they were gonna have a litter this year.  Of course, they could always start in on next year’s babies, but then they will be on a different name theme.  Not sure what next year’s name theme will be, this year was atmospheric conditions.  Last  year was people names, the year before that was qualities of light.  Maybe we will do flower or spice names or something?  Rocks or jewels, maybe?

New Bunny Hutches Delivered!
New Bunny Hutches Delivered!

We may not be able to get pizza deliveries at our house, but today we got some bunny hutches delivered!  Woot!  Room for more bunnies!  Not sure where they are going to go yet,  maybe they will be for more bucks.  It’s been drizzly rainy today so thrashing about in the side of the yard underbrush hasn’t been  high on my list.  Maybe in the next several days there will be time to organize the new bunny space.

Waiting for the photographer

Hula Bunny Yarn
Hula Bunny Yarn

It’s a rainy day, so of course that’s when the magazine photographer is supposed to show up to take pictures of bunnies and things.  Sigh!

There is an article being worked on about fiber critters in Hawaii or some such, not quite sure what their exact topic is, but the journalist visited the bunnies last week.  It was, of course, a gorgeous sunny day but she didn’t have her photographer with her that day.  Ooops!  So, he’s supposed to visit today and see the bunnies and it is a miserable wet rainy day.

Guess they will have to be inside bunnies instead of out in the sunshine bunnies.

We gathered up some of the yarns and things from Vera’s Treasures so the photographer can see them since it seems like it’s gonna be an inside kinda day.

Hillside Gayle
Hillside Gayle

Baby Gayle got weighed and came in at one pound nine ounces at three weeks old.  Gayle is a singleton and is the only one in her litter so she’s getting what would be enough food to feed up to ten baby bunnies.  When she’s fully adult, she will be just over five pounds, so to be a pound and three quarters at three weeks old seems pretty plump to me!  I’ve not closely tracked weights of baby buns though, to know by how much more plump she may be over a ‘normal’ weight at this age.

I think baby Gayle is a girl bunny, though, so she will get to stay here if she is female.  We need more buns to make the ‘Moonlit Dance’ color of Hula Bunny yarn.

Well, soon as the rain slows down, I’ll go out and feed the herd and set up the nest boxes for the possible three litters we may be having later this week.  Not sure if the photographer is gonna want to visit bunnies in the rain or not.

Need more bunnies!


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Baby Black Bun got weighed today and he came in at a whopping one pound two ounces and he’s only two weeks old.  Chubby little guy.  He may be a ‘he’, it’s still too early to be sure, but if I had to guess, I’d guess male.

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He’s been named ‘Hillside Gayle’, is that a name which can be male as well as female?  I’ll have to go see, but for now, he’s named ‘Gayle’.  He does have his eyes open now, too, although you can’t see them in the pictures.  He’s also quite fond of ear rubs, he’s not a shy bunny at all.

We’re hoping for new baby bunnies around Thanksgiving, November 26th, to be exact.  Bunnies are pretty good about having their litters close to when we expect, although as usual with bunnies, there’s almost always exceptions.  At the moment, there’s three litters we are hoping to arrive on the 26th.

  1. These are the parents of the first litter we area hoping for.  The first picture is Hirata’s Ginger, who is a chocolate tortoiseshell doe.  The next picture is Hillside Sydney, who is an agouti buck, before his haircut and the next picture is after his haircut.  Ginger is just over a year and a half old and Sydney is just over two and a half years old.

His color genetics are Aa Bb C(C) Dd Ee and hers are aa bb C_ D_ ee.  So, half the litter should be some sort of agouti based color pattern, half the litter should be chocolate based colors, more than likely there won’t be any whites (the C in parenthesis is because I’m pretty sure he has two dominant C’s there in his genetic code, but it’s not certain yet), we don’t know if there will be any dilute colors and there should be about half fawns/tortoiseshell color patterns.

The next pair of bunny parents is Hillside Joey and Hillside Sandy Storm.  Joey is a Ruby Eyed White (REW) buck and Sandy is a fawn doe.  He’s a year and three months old and she’s seven months old.  This will be a first litter for her and his fourth.  Joey has a great temperament and great shoulders so he is a good herd buck.

Between them, it will be interesting to see what colors may show up.  His color genetics are __ B_ cc _ _ and hers are Aa Bb C_ D_ Ee.  Half the litter should be agouti color pattern and the other half solids.  We don’t know if there will be any chocolates but they both have a dominant B for Black so there should be some agouti/blacks most likely.  We don’t know if she has the recessive ‘c’ for albino, if she does than we will probably see some REWs.  The rest we haven’t a clue since there’s too much unknown in either of their color genetic charts.  We could see just blacks and agouti in this litter.

The parents of the third litter we are hoping for are Phineus Phogge and Sirocco.  He’s a lilac buck and she’s a chocolate agouti doe.  Phin is eight months old and Sirocco is seven so they are both young parents.  Her color genetics are Aa bb C_ D_ Ee and his are aa bb Cc dd E_.  So, half the litter should be agouti color pattern, all should be chocolate (no dominant black genes in either one), not sure if there will be albinos, not sure if there will be dilutes nor do we know if there will be torts and fawns.  So, chocolates and chocolate agouti is what we can expect.

There has been a lot of interest in bunnies just lately so we probably do need to have a few more girl/boy bunny meet-ups.  I’ve been going through the database checking to see which bunny can meet up with which bunny.  Even though we have five bucks listed in the database, as far as actual useful bucks, we’re down to two: Joey & Phineus Phogge.  Sydney went back up mountain and we could have a girl bunny take a vacation in the mountains and meet up with Syd, but for now, we’re just looking at the bunnies here.  Dozer and City Slicker are still on the list of bucks who live here, but they’re too old now for buck duty.  Which pretty much leaves Joey & Phineus as active bucks.

The available does who can meet up with them are:
1.  Hillside Cheiri, a black doe
2.  Hillside Myste, a lilac doe
3.  Hillside Petunia, a REW doe
4.  Hillside Suzie, a REW doe, and
5.  Hillside Tootsie, a chocolate tortoiseshell doe

The rest of the females here are either too old to have a litter or aren’t breeding stock for one reason or another.

Since we have a small herd, we have to check to see who’s related to whom so – the does that Joey can meet up with are  Myste, Petunia and Tootsie.   Phineus Phogge can meet up with  Cheiri, Myste and Suzie.    I’ll have to look at each bunny to decide which ones would be best for which ones, although Myste is the only female who can meet up with either buck.   If the litters that are due on November 26th don’t show up, then we will pick another three pairs and see if they work out better.

Staggering Around

Website developers we aren’t but we’re working on it anyway.  Hopefully this new site will become better than the free site on Google Sites, but this is the very beginning so it’s still pretty rough.

I’ll try putting some pictures in this post:

9 day old bunny
9 day old bunny

That is Hillside Joey & Hirata’s Cocoa Puff’s new black baby bunny.  She/he is about nine days old now and since it’s a litter of one, this baby bunny has been very well fed.  He’s huge and fat!  

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This is some red gladious blooming by the bunny hutch.  Flowers like living next to the bunny hutches.  Even though it’s November, it’s blooming.  I dunno why now, but who’s complaining?

Hula Bunny Socks

Hula Bunny Socks

When we’re not thrashing around trying to figure out how to make a website, there’s knitting therapy.  Whew!  Thank goodness for fuzzy yarn and fast needles.  This is a pair of socks sitting on the Merino fleece which is being prepped to be sent to the mill to be made into the next batch of Hula Bunny yarn.  

Guess I should put this new post away and go do that, huh?

Hello world!

Aloha Bunny folks,

This new website is put together with WordPress, which isn’t a program we’re familiar with so there will be a bit of a learning curve.

The hope is to migrate most of the data from the original webpage and get it shifted over to here where we will hopefully be able to grow past the limits we were reaching on the other page.

Sunny Bunny
Sunny bunny

Angora Bunnies in Hawaii who provide absolutely luscious fiber for Hula Bunny yarn

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