Angora rabbits live at Phoenix Farm. There are currently six in the herd, also called the rabbitry. There are two bucks: Jasper and Marble and four does: Mica, Gem, Alabaster and Citrine. I name all my rabbits after rocks, minerals and gemstones, not sure why. Jasper, Marble and Alabaster are albino color, white with red eyes. Mica is sable, black with gray, Gem is fawn, an apricot reddish-brown, and Citrine is chocolate torte, fawn with brown and gray. All the rabbits are cross-bred between French and English angora with a small amount of German mixed in. The bunnies combine the best traits of all these breeds of angora to produce long (French), thick (English), abundant (German) fiber that can reach seven inches long. The length is known as the staple. These animals that I have specially bred produce very long staple fiber.
Sometimes in the spring I will mate one or more of the does and have some litters of babies kindled. That’s what rabbit breeders call giving birth. Little rabbits are fawns. They are born naked and blind, but quickly grow into the most adorable little creatures. The cuteness peaks at about one month old. Just little handfuls of fluff with curious noses and tiny little tails. Fawns nurse and stay with their mother until two months old, although they often start to eat hay and feed before their eyes are fully open (at 10 days.) This photo shows some babies on the nest who are about two weeks old.The mother rabbit pulls the fiber from her belly and sides to make a warm nest of angora for the babies. She nurses just once per day when the babies are tiny, then carefully covers her brood in a blanket of angora to keep them warm. By two weeks, the babies’ eyes are open and they begin to explore the cage and follow mama around to nurse more. Here are a couple shots of babies about one month old, the mother is Mica.
The babies are ready to have their first fiber removed at about two months old. Then regularly, every two-three months, an angora rabbit must have its hair taken off or it will shed naturally and develop into a huge matt. I carefully pull out the fully-mature hair by hand. This is called plucking and does not hurt the rabbit. They actually lie very calmly and seem to enjoy having all the extra hair removed.
Each shedding results in two to three ounces of fiber per rabbit. This fiber is spun to make yarn and then can be knit or crocheted or woven or felted into the warmest natural fiber items available. Angora is a luxury fiber and is usually combined with other materials such as silk, cotton or mohair to make it go farther and give it more strength. I love to spin straight angora and make wispy, incredibly soft and warm scarves for sale in my online Phoenix Farm Stores. I also sell the raw fiber. These bunnies pay for themselves because prime angora fiber commands a good price. Below is shown a spool from my spinning wheel with some started yarn from a sable angora rabbit. The other photos are of the raw fiber that can be spun just as it is and requires no carding.
I very much enjoy caring for the rabbits, playing with the babies, spinning the fiber and knitting beautiful items. Watching rabbits jump for joy on the lawn is a special reward. Angora rabbits are a large part of daily life here at Phoenix Farm.