Three days ago I brought this handsome boy home to Phoenix Farm. His name is Garnet and he is a 7-month-old chestnut agouti angora. I particularly love his big eyes. Garnet was raised in Blue Hill, ME, about 1.5 hour drive east from us. Yet, surprise, surprise! His background has some of the same rabbitry as my current does. I believe his father is from the same breeder as my senior doe, a place down in southwestern ME, a two hour drive for us in a different direction! Oh well. They are not closely related. He should make a fine buck for my rabbitry.
Garnet is a real snuggle bunny. Males tend to like being held and fussed over more than females. Since he was a favorite of the lady who raised him, Garnet likely received lots of attention. He is also very interested in his girlfriends. I think they will make some lovely babies in the spring.
The agouti color is the wild pattern. Each hair has bands of color, just like a whitetail deer’s hair. Garnet is banded with cream, gray, and a bright chestnut red. In the photo below you can see the banding of the long hairs and also the red tips of the new coat coming in under the first fiber the rabbit grew. He is starting to shed his first coat and I will be harvesting him soon. The color of an angora rabbit is told by the face. The wild type pattern is quite visible on Garnet’s face.
When agouti fiber is spun, the yarn has a pretty variegated appearance that many people like to use. I’m hoping Garnet will produce some adorable agouti babies.
Meet the newest member of the Phoenix Farm rabbitry, Ruby, a chocolate angora doe. She was born here on the farm at the end of April. Although she is not yet six months old, she is the same size as her mother and her fiber coat is lush and long. The hairs are up to seven inches long! When this baby is full grown she could well produce hairs to eight or nine inches in length! Below is Ruby with some of her siblings in June.
Ruby was named by my granddaughters. I think the name fits perfectly. She is a gem of a bunny! Her parentage is mostly French angora with English, German and Giant mixed in. The ears and face show her ancestry as French angoras tend to have very little long fiber in those areas. The German and Giant in her contribute to her large size. Bigger rabbits produce more and longer fiber.
I have just started harvesting her first shedding of fiber. Our rabbits are hand pulled, a process that does not cause the rabbit any discomfort since only the mature, loose hairs are removed. When she is done harvesting, her coat will be about two inches long instead of the current six to seven inches. She feels like a big fluff ball, all fur covering a much smaller bunny body underneath. The fiber is excellent quality with a superior length, lovely cream color shading to brown and grayish-brown at the tips, with a good crimp. I know it will spin up into gorgeous yarn!
Ruby shares an over-sized, comfortable cage with her mom, Moonstone. Frequently they come out to hop around the barn. Moonstone loves to dig holes! Mother and child really enjoy being together and I will try to house them in this manner for companionship. It is harder to keep angoras in groups because the constant rubbing together of their coats creates mats. They will require more frequent grooming. It is the least I can do for bunnies who are so generous with their fiber.
Moonstone, the new angora rabbit doe I acquired last month, gave birth on 10/13 to a litter of three babies. They are healthy, well fed little guys. Mama bunny made a nice warm nest for her fawns with hay and fiber she pulled from her tummy. I supplemented the nest with fiber from a supply I keep just for the purpose.
Here is mama bunny Moonstone, shortly after she arrived at the farm. And below is a shot of the proud father, Marble, my albino angora buck. I’m not sure why this litter is so small. Rabbits usually have 5-9 babies at a time. The doe was maiden and not too thrilled by the mating process. The pair only mated a few times that I observed, so perhaps that’s why she had only a few fawns. I’m very happy with what I got! At least one of the babies is showing signs of developing darker hair than white, so fingers crossed I get a nice sable or chocolate doe to keep.
Proud daddy Marble
In other news, the September hatch of Ameraucana chicks is now four weeks old. The chicks are well feathered. The oldest chicks (one day ahead of the youngest) are starting to sprout feathers on their heads. These babies are very active. They spend the day alternating between filling up at their feeder and running off to free range in the hedges and over the lawns. I think they will be well ready to face the cold weather once winter arrives. To date we have had less than ten frosty nights. The temperature has not gone below about 30F. The days and nights continue unseasonably mild. That’s fine with me and my barn full of babies!
Yesterday I was just messing around on Craig’s List after I posted a couple ads to sell chickens when I saw a listing for an angora doe rabbit. Something about the ad spoke to me, maybe it was the part where the seller said she just didn’t have time for the rabbit. I had been noticing that my only rabbit, Marble the buck, has been acting lonely. He is accustomed to having other rabbits around for company. So I messaged the seller and drove an hour to pick up a new doe for my rabbitry.
What a pleasant surprise to see the bunny’s pedigree and discover her color is chocolate! The seller didn’t know what shade the rabbit was and the pictures in the ad made her look black. I’ve been longing for a chocolate doe since my lovely one passed away several years ago at the age of eight.
Not such a nice surprise was the condition of the rabbit’s coat. When she said she didn’t have time for an angora, the seller meant it! I think she was in way over her head. Caring for an angora takes dedication. She also brought the rabbit in a bin lined with shavings. Anyone who has to brush an angora does not put it on shavings. The bits of wood tangle deep into the hair. I gave the lady her money, popped the rabbit in a paper-lined cage and brought her home to the farm. On the drive home I decided to call her Moonstone.
The coat had obviously not been groomed in months. Angora rabbits need weekly brushing to remove loose hair. About every three months the entire coat is shed and must be removed. Otherwise it turns into a giant mat. That is what happened to Moonstone. I would not be surprised if there were as many as three sheddings matted on her body. The felted fiber was three inches thick!
I set to work on her with some sharp scissors and my fingers. The way to remove mats is to get your fingers between the rabbit’s skin and the clumped fur. Then it is safe to cut the mat away above your fingers. After thirty minutes the bulk of the mess was gone. There was a shopping bag full of matted fiber! Moonstone seemed very happy to be clear of her padded hair coat. She tossed her head the way happy rabbits do and hopped around looking for a treat. Other than the mat coat, the rabbit is in good condition and seems healthy. There are still a few small areas to de-tangle. A job for later today.
Moonstone’s pedigree says she is one year and three months old. She is a cross of French, English, German and Giant angora, quite an interesting mix. I would say she most resembles French with the face clear of furnishings. I love her fluffy ears. Last night and this morning I let Moonstone and Marble sniff each other at the buck’s cage door. This morning Moonstone wanted to hop in with him so I let her. In no time they had mated twice!
I will put them together again this afternoon and tomorrow to make sure she ovulates enough to create a full litter. Fingers crossed there will be some babies in a month!
The baby bunnies turned three weeks old today. They are so very cute! Two are albino, pure white with red eyes, and one is pearl, cream with brown tips on the nose, ears and blue eyes. Such tiny bundles of fur, they fit in one hand. Their fiber is growing quickly. Soon they will not need to snuggle in the hair of mom’s nest for warmth. Already they are hopping around the cage eating pellets and sharing whatever treats mom gets.
In the photos the fawns are resting from a morning snack of fresh dandelion greens, grass and clover. They also nibble on apples and chew hay. Plus they still nurse and will continue to do so until at least eight weeks of age when mom begins to wean them.
I have my eye on the pearl. Such a gorgeous baby! I believe it is a little boy. At this age it is very hard to tell, but it sure looks like a boy to me. Even if it’s a male, I plan to keep this one! If one of the albinos is female, I may keep her as well. My rabbitry was down to two bunnies before the birth of these little ones! This year two adult rabbits died. I would like to have at least four rabbits to get an adequate supply of fiber.
Gem, one of my angora rabbits, passed away last night. She was nearly seven and the only fawn colored animal my rabbitry has so far produced. The fiber color was apricot at the tips shading to cream near the body and grew to about 6″ long. Such a beautiful bunny.
This rabbit also had a beautiful heart. A pleasant animal, she never fought with other rabbits. She was best friends with her half-sister Citrine, who is an alpha female and does not get along with anyone who challenges her. Luckily, she found a pal in Gem, a calm, quiet, friendly creature. I’m certain Citrine will miss her buddy.
Citrine and Gem in the garden
Cancer took Gem away. Several months ago I felt the beginnings of a breast tumor. It grew quickly and spread to other regions. I suspect it went to her lungs and that is what got Gem. She died quietly in her sleep.
Nearly seven is a good age for a bunny. Nature designed these prey animals to live about two years. Older rabbits often develop tumors. Gem’s father also passed from cancer last fall. He lived nine years, a venerable age for a bunny.
I hope this spring breeding season will see the birth of a little fawn-colored girl rabbit to fill the hole in my rabbitry.
Yesterday evening the five baby angora rabbits had their first adventure in the outdoors. They went with their mother to the rabbit run. The area is about three feet by eight feet, plenty of room for five tiny bunnies to explore. At first they were shy and stayed near mom.
Soon, the fawns were ready to try running, jumping and nibbling greens. Before long they were sniffing at the rabbits on the other side of the fence and even wriggling through the small holes in the chicken wire. After three had squirmed through, I put up some boards to keep them from escaping.
Baby bunnies have lots of energy. One will throw its head back and start bouncing around as though its hind legs have a will of their own. Soon the others join in. They dart in random directions, sometimes bumping into walls or each other as they learn to control those strong hind legs.
Then it’s time for a rest and a quick snack. Rabbits love to chew up grass, clover, dandelion, and tender plantain leaves. It is advisable to make sure no toxic plants such as burdock, milkweed or nightshade are available because rabbits like to taste almost anything. Little bunnies are especially adventuresome about trying to eat whatever is around.
As the fawns mature, the one colored baby begins to stand out. Four are albinos with pink eyes. The other is a male with color points, meaning the nose, ears and possibly tail and feet contrast with the rest of the coat color. This baby gets darker all the time. The coat is very light beige with the points currently looking pale gray-brown. I would call him a lilac point. His eyes are blue. As he grows, the colors may deepen.
This is the first color point angora I have produced in about twenty years of breeding rabbits. He is very cute and loves to cuddle. It is hard to resist keeping him, but I have no does for him to mate. I’m trying to reduce the herd to one buck and three does. Holding on to him because he is cute and unusual would be very silly. Next spring we will try again for a chocolate doe.
The angora rabbits at Phoenix Farm love to get out of their cages every day for some free hopping around time. Here is the outside run I set up for my female rabbits. It is a space 16 ft by 8 ft enclosed with two-foot high plastic lattice panels.
I have walled off a small area within the larger run to segregate one of the does. There are four females, Alabaster-who is albino, Gem-a fawn color doe, Citrine-who is chocolate torte and Jade-a sable doe. Jade and Citrine are both dominant females. Jade will fight with any other female whereas Citrine only wants to fight with Jade. So Jade gets her own smaller area and the other three does have the larger space. Jade likes to stretch out on the cool grass to enjoy an hour or two away from her demanding babies.
The buck, Marble, an albino, gets a separate area where he can have exercise and fresh grass without a chance of impregnating the females. His spot is about five feet square.
While mom is outside, her five babies practice their newly developed hopping skills around the cage. They explore the feeder and waterer and sample hay and fresh grass. These little ones are 19 days old today, already have teeth, and are beginning to eat solid foods.
Four of the five are albinos with pink eyes and pure white hair. One baby is white with darker eyes, maybe gray or brown, and is showing brownish points on the nose and ears. It is hard to know quite yet what the final color will be. The pointed white baby is just behind the front fawn who is chewing a blade of grass.
The babies are very friendly, hopping right over when they hear my voice. They like to explore my hand and lick at my fingers.
The baby angora rabbits are twelve days old today. Their eyes started opening two days ago. The process is slow to give them time to adjust to the new sensation of seeing. The little ears are up and away from their heads. I’m sure they can hear well now. Their sense of smell is acute. When I am around the fawns lift their heads, pink noses wiggling as they sniff at the air to smell me.
The babies now sit up like rabbits rather than lying on their sides as helpless newborns. It is adorable the way they drape themselves over each other when they sleep in the nest.
Looks like all five are albinos, no chocolate doe for me. Maybe next time, if I can get the persnickety rabbits to mate again.
Mama bunny is busy cleaning one of the babies in the photo at the top. In the smaller picture above left, the fawn in the background is the runt of the litter. It is half the size of the largest baby. The tiny one is growing fast and will one day be nearly the size of the others.
Finally, after several months of trying, one litter of stillborn babies and two false pregnancies, Mama bunny has given birth! Here are Marble, the father and Jade, the mother. They are both angora rabbits. Marble is albino and Jade is sable color. They are a mix of French and English angora and Marble has a little German angora thrown in. They both produce wonderful fiber up to 7″ long!
After the last false pregnancy I decided to try leaving the pair together for a full night and two days. Maybe they needed more time to do their mating thing. I guess it worked.
When I went to the barn this morning I found a nest mounded over with freshly pulled sable angora fiber.
And when I carefully pulled away the top, five pink little babies were nestled contentedly in the warm hair of their mother.
I patted their mother well to make my hands smell like her, then examined each baby for any signs of long strands of fiber wrapping around their limbs or neck. I set them to the side in a small bundle of fur while I clipped the rest of the fiber into short lengths. If left long, the fiber will spin itself into tough strands that can kill or maim babies who get tangled in it. When this happened twice in the past I was very lucky to catch the problem before serious trouble started. After the fiber was chopped short, I rebuilt the nest and put the babies back. Mama came to inspect my handiwork and seemed to approve. She washed the little ones to make sure they were clean, then went back to munching her greens.
She will nurse them once a day and keep them clean and safe in the nest. If all goes well the babies will grow some short fur and their eyes will open in about ten days. I am anxious to see what colors the newborn babies will be. My fingers are crossed for a chocolate doe, but that would be almost too much to ask.