Monday, September 22, 2014

Madi's Mitts!

Well, I finally did it!  I wrote my own knitting pattern using my very own fiber from my very own rabbits.  Now that we have our mill, we've been having a lot of fun, in between jobs for others, making our own yarns using our own fiber.  Last week, we used a lot of our rabbit fiber to blend it with a dyed merino top.  Merino top is a fiber that has been processed into a wonderfully soft roving.  After washing, piking, carding, and pin-drafting, we were finally ready to spin.  Once the roving was ready, we spun it into a beautiful yarn!  The one we named Wizzywig Wild and I decided to make a pair of fingerless mitts with the yarn, but I wanted to make my own pair with my own pattern, so I did.  

It took a lot of math and thinking, but I finished with two adorable mitts!  Not to mention the fact that that the yarn was made from our own rabbits, made in our own mill, and the mitts were made right here were the yarn was made!  How about that?

One of the nicest things about angora yarn, not to mention the warmth and softness it provides, is the lovely "halo" that garments made from it will actually start to produce.  Here are just a few of the pictures from the fun we had last week:

Yummy angora roving

Yarn on the skein winder

Yarn in different colors & weights

One of my bunnies being groomed just before shearing time!

Here are my finished mitts! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fall Fever

It is that time of the year again.  The Carhartts get dusted off, everyone is doing school work, the temperature drops drastically, pools get closed, pumpkins are placed on front porches, apple cider is a drink of choice, all of the animals get their winter coats on, knitted scarves are a fashionable statement, and the leaves start changing color.  Well, it's officially fall folks!  

This morning, I walked out to feed all of the animals, and to my surprise, it was colder this morning than it was last night!  Let's just say I was happy to have a sweatshirt near-by.  My goats looked like they needed a sweatshirt as well, so I went out with some old T-shirts and put them on my goats.  They are stylish now!  Hopefully it doesn't start snowing soon because I really don't have enough time to knit them all a wool sweater!

I also noticed while I was out with the "girls" Peek-A-Boo and Cocoa were in heat.  My buck, Spidey, even noticed too.  Well, everyone will just have to wait because if I breed them now, I'll definitely have to make some wool sweaters because the kids would be due the end of January beginning of February.  I will be waiting until the next cycle which will bring the kids closer to March.
Luna and her shirt!

Peek-A-Boo enjoying the day and the sheep just resting!

Esther Ella posing


Friday, September 5, 2014

Murphy's Law.....

Murphy's Law is an interesting adage.  You've heard it, or maybe you haven't.  Basically Murphy's Law states that if it can possibly  go wrong, eventually it will.  Well, that was my case with my current litter of Giant Angora rabbits.  First, you must understand, my sister has been raising and breeding quality Giant Angoras for over ten years now.  She has worked really hard on her line and it hasn't been easy.  So, I had a great place to get started.  

There are very few Giant Angoras in the country and I thought it would be good to start raising them so that other youth might become interested in them too.  I began raising Giant Angoras about 2 1/2 years ago.  I started with a doe and used a buck of my sisters to breed her.  The doe soon had a healthy litter of six and was a wonderful mom.  In fact, I weaned all six of the babies.  I sold four of them and kept two does.  The two does I kept went with me to ARBA Nationals that year and the one won breed.  When I returned home, I bred them, but in that process, one of the does died.  The other doe never had kits.  I tried two more times to breed her, Ruby I called her, but it still didn't work.  It was very frustrating.  Finally, after trying one more time to breed her, it seemed as though it worked.  Ruby made it to day 28, I put in her nest box, and then, just before having the babies, she died.  I was very sad and discouraged.

I could have given up, but I didn't.  I still wanted very much to begin raising those wonderful Giant Angoras.  So, a very dear friend of ours offered me another doe.  I named her Amy and she came from Kelly at Hopping Acres.  In fact, I now have two does from Kelly.  The first one and now a second named Abbytude.  Can you guess why I call her that?

So, back to my story with Murphy's Law...  The time came for me to breed Amy.  My sister offered her buck named Oz, the breed winner at ARBA Nationals in Kansas.  After all my experiences so far, I was very nervous to try, but I did.  On day 28, Amy wasn't showing any signs of any impending birthing.  You know, the usual, pull hair, build a nest, stop eating, and other signs.  So I thought the breeding didn't take.  Imagine my surprise when on day 31, Amy began having kits.  Remember though, if it can possibly go wrong, eventually, it does.  Out of 9 kits born, only two were alive and those two were born on the wire, getting cold, and about to die.  I had a choice to make.  Try to work hard to preserve the two kits, or let them go and try breeding again.  If you know me, you probably know the choice I made.  I tried to save the kits.  

First, and most important, I had to warm them up.  Everyday, at least twice a day, I had to bring Amy to her kits to nurse them.  Now, understand, you can't just bring in the mom and expect her to willingly do this.  First, the kits have to be warm.  If they aren't warm, they won't eat.  If they don't get milk from mom soon after they are born, they become weak, and they won't live.  So in other words, it's really important for them to be warm and eat.  There is another important step here.  Since they won't be with the mom after eating, I had to try to get them to go to the bathroom.  I did this by using a warm cloth and softly rubbed their genital area.  Sounds like fun, doesn't it?  Just so you know, if I didn't do that, the toxins in their body would have killed them if they don't go potty.

Well, it was a lot of work and unfortunately one of the kits didn't make it, but the other did.  I'm proud to say that little guy is now 7 weeks old, soon ready to be weaned from mom, and he is eating and drinking on his own!  Murphy visited his ugly head here way too many times with this litter of Giant Angoras and I hope he doesn't come back again any time soon.  I am, however, proud to say that I have this little guy and he is now doing quite well.   

Zo says "Hello!"

Even getting ear furnishings!

Zo in all his cuteness!