Tuesday, July 28, 2015

There's a new Beast in Town.

It's 5 am, I went to sleep four hours ago. Boogy Beast woke me up. Well I should say that one of my chickens impersonating Henrietta Chicken (the dog toy, squeeze one and you'll understand) woke me up. Being that I've had 4 hour of sleep I thought one of my lambs was in trouble until I heard the choir from the ducks.
Being the prepared person I am with lightning fast problem solving skills and ninja moves I didn't turn on a light. I jumped out of bed grabbed my flannel sleep shorts, tried to put both legs in one hole, fell down, tripped over two dogs and one cat all rushing through the door out of the bedroom. Spencer was certain if he kept up he would be going with me, Gus was following Spencer, and I'm not sure which cat got kicked, like I said didn't turn on the light. Sorry cat. Jammed my feet in my slip on shoes, which for once were by the door I needed them to be, grabbed the LED rechargeable Costco flash light the kind that will blind you if you look into it, and hurled myself with no pets through my back door. Ha! I made it just in time to see glowing eyes of Beasty, couldn't see the rest of it. Knew it was small enough that being armed only with a six inch plastic very bright flashlight would only be a problem if Beasty was rabid, unlikely. Gave chase but was easily lost by its stealthy moves. I almost tripped over victim, black chicken, it wasn't moving so I didn't stop. Searched for Beasty so I could throw rocks and curse it, .22 is in the house and not with me, 5 am brain is an awesome thinker. Since I couldn't find where Beasty had got to or figure out: house cat, wild cat, raccoon, fox, skunk, or new creature I went back to clean up. 
I checked the coop and did a head count, only missing black chicken laying motionless on ground. I checked everyone else, not happy to be woken up but alive with all their parts attached. When back to lump of black chicken on ground. 
I have eczema on my hands, I have a ointment I wear at night with cotton gloves and rubber gloves over those, super sexy I know. Since I'm
Already gloved up I can examine my victim for signs of what killed her. I see she still has her head which means I doubt raccoon, they usually horribly disfigure things they take plus Beasty didn't look big enough. I couldn't see any blood or wounds so I went to flip Blackie over. Blackie had other ideas and sprang to life, I nearly wet my pants. Lazarus then blindly made a break for cover. I followed talking to her to calm us both down and get close enough to grab her without falling in the dirt and embarrassing myself in front of the sheep. Blackie made it into the rabbit barn and wedged herself under some cages. After prying her out and examining her all over, she appeared to be only stunned and missing feathers so I popped her back in the coop. One last look around and I came back inside were in trying relax enough to go back to sleep for two more hours before my day starts. Again. 
Black chicken will be known as Heneretta from now on. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Never Judge a Book by it's Cover, Except Sometimes

The golden rule in my barn is three strikes you're out!

Here's how it works, everyone is entitled to make mistakes or have a bad day. You behave in a way that is a detriment to the progress of the ranch I'll give you a break twice. Third time and you're done. Raising sweet, well mannered Mini Rex doesn't make for a lot of opportunities to enforce this, thankfully.

Examples of being a detriment:
Does (female rabbit) that don't give birth in their nest boxes, stomp their babies, don't produce milk or generally fails at motherhood could pass that on to their babies and that's if you can get a litter to survive in the first place.
Rabbits that bite me, or make serious attempts to, make it hard or dangerous for me to work in their cage or handle them. Think a bite from a rabbit can't be that bad? Try it and get back to me. Pregnant and nursing moms get a pass, protecting their babies - being hormonal and all. Do it all the time though and we'll have a problem.
Rabbits that abuse each other while breeding do not last long either. My girls aren't into ruff stuff, I also don't allow them to beat up the boys. It's not nice and it can lead to a full blown fight where I could be injured as well.
Bucks (male rabbit) that spray all the time. Nothing is as awesome as being sprayed in the face by a buck (not), You should try it sometime...

There are some exceptions or extra passes. So each case gets a mini trial and judgment passed.

I had a issue come up that falls into a strange category all its own. I purchased a brood Red Eyed White (albino) doe about 6 months ago and have gotten two litters out of her. For her first litter I bred her to a Broken Black buck. The resulting litter wasn't anything to write home about, I got: a Broken Castor, Broken Black and a Tortoise.

For those who don't raise rabbits, Broken means white with another color, most often heard at the fair is "Oh that one looks like a Dalmatian!" You get the idea. Please stop here and make all the jokes about broken you can but please keep them to yourself. Trust me, I've heard all of them before. "Well if it's broken why don't you fix it!" Harharhar, sigh.
Black is black, really.
Caster color is most commonly described as wild rabbit color or sometimes mahogany. It's a beautiful color that is achieved by each hair shaft having three different colored bands, however if the bands are not properly proportioned, the effect is ruined.
Tortoise, usually called Tort for short, is described as bright, rich, clean orange with shaded eyes, ears, feet, tail, nose, flanks, and belly. Sort of like a Siamese cat. The only acceptable colored Tort in Mini Rex is Black.

Back to the litter. The Broken Black was eh, I had a least three others in different litters that were better. The Tort ended up having Chocolate points instead of the accepted Black and therefore was not showable. The Broken Caster's rings were not balanced properly which would have gotten her disqualified on a show table.  While normally a beautiful color, it's not a color I personally breed for. While this was a bit of an odd ball litter I didn't think much of it at the time. Not every pairing works out to show stopping winners. I bred the doe again, this time to a beautiful Otter Lilac buck who is on loan from a good friend.

An albino is the result of two recessive genes coming together making the animal turn all white usually with red eyes. This doe could be any color genetically but you can't see it because the recessive gene hides it. From her pedigree you can make a very educated guess. I gathered from her pedigree that she is quit likely a Black. I'm that kid from biology class that no one liked because I thought the gene portion of class was fascinating and easy. Sorry guys! I'll try to not turn this into a crash course of genetics. When you breed an Otter Lilac to a Black here is what you SHOULD get: Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac, Otter Black, Otter Blue, Otter Chocolate, and Otter Lilac. Then there is what you CAN get: Tortoise (Black, Blue, Chocolate, Lilac) and Red Eyed White. Lastly what you should NOT EVER get: Caster, Chocolate Agouti, Opal, Lynx, Chinchilla, Seal, Himalayan, Sable, Sable Point, Red, and Blue Eyed White.

What did I get? Six Casters. This means that under that Red Eyed White, that doe is in fact a Caster.  This also means her pedigree is incorrect because it just isn't possible to get a Caster from her background. But wait there's more. Unfortunately due to the heat wave here three of the six babies died. Of the three that are left, two are a bit strange.
Here is the normal looking baby from the litter:

There there is the one that is having the worst hair day/life ever:

It's hard to get a picture of the strange almost downy like longer hair that covers most of this little guy, it's not something I've seen before.
And here is the last one, Can you find the weird thing?
When you see it...
Yeah one ear is half the size of the other.  I've never ever (and I mean ever) seen this before. I know some people will be thinking "OH! But it's so cute, like a bunny Nemo!" While it may look cute, it can't stay. Rabbits ears are their AC systems.  This guy's cute little imperfection could have life threatening implications. This one has to go - this means mom has to go, too. I don't need these genes in my barn and I won't let it go to someone else's barn. This is a case of what's on the inside counts, too!