Fat yarn

Every once in awhile, we need a new rug around here.  So, here’s the beginnings of the next one.

These are a few skeins of yarn spun in the last couple of days.  The first two white ones and the little blue one in the middle are cotton yarns.  The fiber was grown here in the garden.  The big fat skein is raw wool from a friend’s lawnmower sheep.  It’s a bit rough and not soft enough wool that you’d want it next to your skin, especially with the options of the much softer Seat Island cotton or angora bunny fibers to choose from.

This is the spinning wheel the yarns were made on and the smaller skein of white cotton is there on the bobbin in front.  The wheel has the much larger bulky flyer on it for making the fat rug yarns.

I’d had some other fiber on a bobbin next to the drive wheel’s hub and it got into the hub.  It ended up pulling almost all the fiber off the bobbin and winding it around the axle of the drive wheel so we had to do a bit of wheel maintenance.

Ashford Traditional spinning wheel with the drive wheel off
wheel repair

The fiber on the ground behind the wheel is the trouble making fibers.  I think this is the first time the drive wheel has been taken off the frame since the wheel arrived in 2009.  In this picture, the smaller standard flyer is there and the cotton yarn has just been finished.

This spinning wheel is an Ashford Traditional, they’ve been made for almost half a century if not longer and are probably the most common spinning wheel on the planet.

Cotton yarn

I’m not sure if it’s a washcloth or a shirt or what, but now we have some cotton yarn.

It’s spun to yarn thickness and not thread thickness.  I don’t have the patience for thread, either to make it or knit with it.

Maybe I’ll make a shirt or something.  Kinda interesting growing clothes.  You figure it wasn’t all that long ago – relatively speaking – that all folks had to grow and spin cotton or wool if they wanted to wear something other than tanned hides.

When did commercial spinning and big powered looms come into existence?  1800’s?   Egyptians were making cotton cloth seriously way back when, but they had spindles and not spinning wheels, didn’t they?  Wonder what sort of looms they had to weave the yarns on?  The Chinese folks were making exquisite silks way before any European industrial revolution.  Guess I should go study the history of textiles.  At what point did the majority of folks cease to wear tanned hides and switch over to woven textiles?

Why do folks take textiles for granted so much today?  Is the entire process mechanized so folks don’t appreciate it as work?

Gargoyle Bunny

Dunno as if Zeus thinks it’s near Halloween or what, but he’s been practicing his gargoyle moves.

white bunny imitating a gargoyle

He was right up on the front edge of the nest box just about falling off.  Dunno as if fluffy and white quite goes along with the whole gargoyle theme, but he’s just a beginning fashionista and still needs to work on a few details.

Zelda was trying out the gargoyle thing too, but nowhere near as convincingly as Zeus.

black bunny trying to be a gargoyle

She just doesn’t have the whole gargoyle thing figured out yet.

Other than fuzzy bunnies, there’s been fuzzy scarves being knit.  I’ve started writing out the pattern for it since it may turn out well enough to be knit by other folks perhaps.

detail of a knitted scarf

This is the front side of the scarf.  It’s being knit out of Hula Bunny’s ‘Beach Bunny’ color of yarn.  It’s mostly ‘Old Shale’ or ‘Old Shell’ pattern which is sometimes erroneously called feather-n-fan.  This is NOT feather and fan, it is Old Shell.  Which is sometimes called ‘Old Shale’ because of the accent from when it’s spoken.  So, now that we have that clarified, here’s the back of it.

back side detail f scarf

This is the back and because the Hula Bunny yarn gets so soft and fuzzy, a lot of the fine details in a pattern will get lost in the fluff.  Which is why a big broad pattern is best with Hula Bunny yarn.

If it were made with an unmodified Old Shell pattern, the back of the scarf would sort of have an overall pebbly texture and no real interest, IMHO.  The vertical stripes were added in to make the back nice to look at, too.

At the moment, it’s only half knit since it’s only about three feet long.  I’m thinking maybe six or seven feet would be the nicest length.

Not that we need a scarf in the middle of June, but I have to start knitting now so there will be things ready for folks in the fall and winter.  More bunny haircuts tomorrow!  The bunnies have to help or all kinds of folks will be missing out on toasty ears, necks and noses come next winter.

Twelve days old and wandering all over

The little ones can wander in and out of the nest so it’s hard to weigh them properly.  Before they were so mobile, one would get weighed and put back in the nest and they’d pretty much stay put.  Now, they scoot all over the place and it’s hard to figure out which black one is which.

little black bunny wandering out of the nest
12 days old

The Ruby Eyed White is still the biggest one, by .01 ounce.   The REW is 7 ounces, the next biggest black is 6.9 ounces.  Followed by 6.4 ounces, 5.6 ounces and 4.8 ounces.  That’s quite a bit of difference between the largest and the smallest.  I think it will even out some when they start eating solid foods.

Day Eleven Baby Bunnies

They’re getting bigger, all but one are now over five ounces.   No wonder Cheiri is eating like a little piglet, she’s feeding bigger babies now.  For the next two and a half to three weeks is probably the most stress on the mom bun.  As the babies get bigger, she has to feed them more.  However, they’ll start nibbling on solid food in about two weeks or so.

baby bunnies in nest
11 Days Old

The little white one is now 5.6 ounces although one of the black ones is now bigger at 5.8 ounces.  If we were picking bunnies to keep at this stage, those two would be at the top of the list.  But, it’s still very early to see how they’ll be when grown up.

black angora bunny
Cheiri is a good mom bun

Cheiri could use a bit of grooming, but at this stage, we’re just letting her do nothing other than feed babies.  In another three weeks when the babies are more or less weaned, then we will give Cheiri a good grooming since she won’t be all that stressed out anymore.

Day Ten Baby Bunnies

They are all there and they are ten days old.  Most likely they will all survive at this point.  Baby bunnies are very delicate and we lose them to being stepped on by the mum bun, being eaten by rats or ants, getting out of the nest or even off by themselves at the other side of the nest and getting chilled and dying, etc. etc.  However, at ten days old, they’re becoming much less delicate.  They still rely on mum bun for all of their sustenance at this point.   Given another week, if they should lose mum, they’d have a chance of surviving but at this time they rely almost entirely on mum.

bunnies in a nest with the white one's nose pointing up
Ten days old English angora baby bunnies

They’re getting better at moving themselves around and they mostly sleep upright now.  They almost have their eyes starting to open, but they aren’t quite open yet.  They have little itty bitty teeth although I think they have them almost from birth.

It was a rainy day today so we didn’t get out to visit with the bunnies much.  Hopefully tomorrow we will get more pictures and visit with the little ones some more.   The babies get picked up and scritched behind the ears, a little belly rub, etc.  Being handled now keeps them pretty mellow as adults since they’re used to humans from the very beginning.

We did figure out how to get a countdown calendar for the upcoming litters added to the bottom of the webpage.  Now instead of having to count on the calendar, we can just look at the bottom of the page.  The Google page had a calendar that would keep counting past the event, but I think this one will just go to the event and then stop.  Having one that keeps counting past the time makes it easy to see how old the babies are, maybe one like that will show up at some point.  I’m still learning how to manage the website.

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.