Friday, August 31, 2012

On The Fence

I'm debating whether to continue with this blog. I've mentioned this to people already, but I am planning to take a break from raising rabbits. I may keep a few pets, but I will not be breeding, selling, showing, etc. any more in the foreseeable future. Thanks to all the folks that helped me along the way in my rabbit ventures over the past several years and best of luck to those still moving forward with their herds!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Evening Visitor

Our garden bunny was hanging out off to the side of the driveway last night and I managed to snap a poor quality picture in the dark:

A little Eastern Cottontail. Here is the species description from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources website (

"The eastern cottontail is the most common rabbit in Georgia occurring throughout the entire state.  It has dense brown to gray fur on its back with a white underside and white or cotton tail.  There is usually a white spot on its forehead, the nape of the neck is rusty in color, and the feet are whitish.  From head to tail adults measure 14-17 inches and weigh 2-4 pounds.

Cottontails breed from February to September, with 80% of the young born from April to July.  Males are polygamous (i.e., have more than one mate at a time).  Cottontails are very productive having 3-7 litters per year that range from 4-7 young per litter.  Their gestation period is 25-30 days.  Young can start eating vegetation after 8 days and are weaned from their mother after 14 days.

The eastern cottontail is active mostly from dusk till dawn.  Their annual home ranges cover 4-13 acres.  Research has shown that cottontails use a variety of habitat types ranging from crop fields, oldfields, and pastures to briar and shrub thickets.  Brush and briar thickets provide important cover from predators and mortality rates are greater when rabbits venture into open areas with sparse ground cover.  Annual mortality rates average about 80% per year.   Mammalian predators (coyotes, bobcats, foxes, etc.) account for the majority (55%) of cottontails mortality with avian predators (owls and hawks) next in line (25%) as a source of mortality.  Most mortality of cottontails occurs during the breeding season.

Cottontails use a variety of habitats, but prefer early succession habitats (i.e., a mix of grasses, briars, forbs, and shrubs).  Early succession habitat can be created or maintained by combinations of periodic ground disturbances that maintain ground vegetation in a 1-5 year old growth stage.   Cottontails, as well as most rabbits, feed on a great variety of vegetation.  However, rabbit management is targeted primarily at managing for quality cover and not food."

Thanks for looking!

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Ugly

This is the third and final post in this series of three. So far we've talked before about the good stuff- how cute and fun raising rabbits can be. We've also talked about the bad stuff- how crazy and messy raising rabbits can be. Now let's talk about some of the horrid items that rabbit breeders have to deal with as a matter of course- aka the ugly side.

Let's start with a scenario: Someone contacts you to buy a rabbit. They send pictures of their set-up, they seem to have researched what they want/need, have housing and everything, and are ready to buy. Even though you hesitate to part with a rabbit you wanted to keep, you decide that it may help this person get started and go for it. Hey, if no one took a risk with you then how would you have been started, right?

Then when you go to meet them though, they are late.. not five minutes late, but an hour and a half late. They keep calling saying they are almost there while you sit around waiting.

Alright, they've arrived. They seem nice and you second guess your concerns about selling even though a few statements they make about the breed you need to correct. No problem. You go over your care sheet, provide food hay for the transition, answer questions, go over items like nail clipping. All is well and they leave.. but the very next day they contact you and are concerned because the rabbit isn't eating all of a sudden. You find out that they ignored all of your instructions, stressed the new rabbit out with tons of family, and then fed fruit/vegetables on the DO NOT FEED list you provided. You try to provide more information, emphasize that they should never offer that food item, and encourage them to contact a vet or even come back and meet you again.

They swear they will contact a vet and they say they already have one. But, they don't. Should I mention that instead of the vet they decide to call you at all hours of the night? You tell them the hours you are available, but find that even the questions asked are the same ones answered on the care sheet like what kind of hay to offer. A good start would be the hay that you already provided, right? The problems just keep coming. Now you have spent a good twelve hours talking to them off and on at all hours of the day and night, not to mention the time in e-mail... all for a $25 rabbit that you reduced the price to just $15 on to save the family a little bit of money. By the way, in the meantime the rabbit has been eating and doing fine when they finally started the rabbit on the right track.

Then you get the call a few months later (while the questions continue in the meantime) that they don't want the rabbit anymore because rabbits aren't what they expected after all. They don't want a shy prey animal- they want a puppy! Will you take the rabbit back and give them a refund? Oh and it has to be today and they are already on their way over to your town.

Yes, one ugly aspect of raising rabbits is that you will have buyers that you will swear exist for the sole purpose of driving you crazy! And then there are the actual crazy people that pose as buyers but are in fact PETA animal rights activists that are trying to find a way to access your rabbits to "free them." (One of the reasons I won't meet people at my house anymore.) Or the buyers that suddenly produce a dozen litters locally that look just like the pet rabbit you sold them even though they swore the pet rabbit they purchased was scheduled to be neutered.

You aren't safe from liars and cheaters if you don't sell to the public because breeders aren't exempt from this either and you have to get your starting stock from somewhere. To give you an example, I purchased a group of rabbits from a breeder that was supposed to be reputable. Because of this and because I still had the newbie mentality to trust a stranger in rabbits, I purchased them based on pictures and a friend transported them to my state after a show. Let me just say simply that they were grossly misrepresented. And I don't mean in just a case of poor type or something- I mean they were sick culls that I paid money for and ended up having to euthanize. Do you know what the seller did? Nothing. She didn't refund me a dime and continues to sell poor culls to newbies while enjoying a good reputation in the community as a successful exhibitor. Ugly? Yes, but it happens and more often than people think. 

Another ugly item that I already briefly mentioned is that there will be people that think you are the devil for raising rabbits and may try to sabotage you or your property. Some people are just against breeders of any species for any reason and make it their life's mission to stop you. Others think all rabbits should be free. Even ignoring for a second that domestic rabbits probably won't survive in the wild regardless, a third group are really just trouble-makers as sad as it is. They might live nearby and report you to AC because they are bored. Or be a disgruntled family member or friend. Or even a show competitor that is jealous of your win. Even if AC shows up and finds no problems at all in a perfect rabbitry, this can be a stressful event and occurs for no other reason than someone is being ugly.

If you are reading this post, then you probably have animals of some kind, likely rabbits. To me the most ugly part of having any animal, but especially smaller animals like rabbits is that they inevitably take a turn and sooner than you are ready for (are you ever really ready though?). If you are fortunate then they may pass away in their sleep, but much more likely than that is that you will have to make the decision to humanely euthanize them to prevent unwanted pain and suffering and/or a poor quality of life.

Now if you compound this with raising rabbits, then not only will you have to deal with death and sickness from a pet standpoint, but you will have to deal with several other items like protecting your herd from illness, preventing an inferior or malformed rabbit from passing along defective genes, and even something like population control if there is no other outlet for culls. In translation, it means that as a breeder while someone gets to enjoy the aspects of having life around like new kits in the nestbox, they also have to take responsibility for every rabbit born or purchased in the form of death dealing. Yes, the ugly fact is that rabbit breeders not only deal with life, but become very well acquainted with death as well. This is an uncomfortable and often distressing aspect of raising rabbits. Even meat breeders post all the time about how difficult it is when slaughter day arrives and how they struggle to rationalize feeding their families with wholesome home-grown meat even knowing that it comes from the babies they so carefully raised. Are you ready to be the hand that makes the appointment, the finger that pulls the trigger? This is a very serious consideration.

Death is ugly.

And so are several other items we've discussed. I really wish someone would have told me about all of the good, bad, and ugly parts of raising rabbits before I started, but unfortunately some of this literally comes with experience. Although many of these topics are not fun (though some are of course), I hope it has provided insight into raising rabbits for your consideration. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cute Little Furballs

Just wanted to post some cute pics I took today:

Thanks for looking!

APHIS Proposal

If you raise rabbits (or any animal, really), I encourage you to read the Rabbit Smarties blog posted by friend Ellyn that breaks it down superbly. It describes what the proposal is, how it affects people, what should be done about it, and even has a frequently asked questions section. Check it out!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Missing Spring

We have been in a drought for a pretty good bit now. Last night we had a little rain, but not enough to really make a dent in how dry everything is still. Some of my trees have been dropping leaves and the grass looks very brown and sad.

It wasn't so long ago when everything was lush and blooming. I'm posting some pics today of my hydrangea when it was producing tons of flowers in mid-May. I purchased it thinking it was going to produce bubblegum pink petals a few years back. It was almost dead on the clearance shelf at Home Depot for $5 when it normally sold for almost $30. I figured I'd give it a go and with some TLC, it came right back. Didn't bloom the first year, but ever since it has been like clockwork during Spring.

Interestingly, it never did end up blooming bubblegum pink, but research later on indicated that the advertising wasn't really accurate because the color of the flower depends on the pH of the soil.


 As you can see, the buds would try to open pink, but by the time they matured they were lavender blue with pink centers and were just so pretty!

Here is another lovely Spring discovery. A Toehee nest right outside my front window:

The little pair hatched less than 24 hours before this picture was taken. I had been discretely checking the nest when mama was out and the babies did great!

Thanks for reading. :o)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Staying Cool

Tacoma, resting on a hot summer day:

Though for some reason she lays on the opposite side of the cage as her frozen pop bottle and resting mat most of the time. Oh well.. to each his or her own, I guess!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Heat Wave

106! That's how hot it was here yesterday afternoon. This is an all-time record high for this time of year since recording began in 1878. We are expecting 104 today. :o(

Needless to say, I am taking numerous steps to keep the rabbits cool. I highly encourage anyone looking for ways to chill their barn out to check out some of posts of the blogs I follow regarding how to reduce temperatures in your rabbitry. Now that I don't have AC anymore out with the buns, I use frozen pop bottles, frozen tiles, box fans, damp their ears, and even set-up to rotate them inside the house in an exercise pen since I can't fit the stackers.

Stay cool if you can!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Out of Office

I've been away traveling for the better part of a week again after just returning from another trip previously. Here are some random pictures from the places I visited:

I am back home now for the time being and am trying to get caught up on everything. Every bunny is doing fine, though we are in a heat wave and code red smog alert right now. It is 100 degrees and humid, so I am working hard to keep all the critters comfortable today. Can't wait for Fall to come!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Directions

I haven't truly updated the blog in a while, so I am trying to get motivated to jump back in. I still owe a missing post in the good, bad, and ugly of raising rabbits that I plan to do as soon as I can. I also just wanted to talk about what's up here at Hendricks' Hearth.

First, we are down to our last two Mini Lop does- they are available singly or together and would be good brood does, though I think they wouldn't be bad options for the show tables either. Our last New Zealand pair went to a great brood home and are doing great, so I am happy. Especially because I was very attached to that gold-tipped steel doe. She is a love! Here is the sweetie pie before she left:

I still have the Harlie herd and everyone is doing fine. I have a couple junior brood bucks available right now and have some weaned litters I need to take pictures of. I no longer have a good summer set-up for rabbits and am now considering a military nurse career, so the entire Harlequin herd would be available to someone wanting to seriously work with this breed. If you have read my blog or talked to me, you know I think Harlequins in the United States are pretty much riddled with problems. In my humble opinion, they can also be incredibly rewarding and are some of the most beautiful and unique rabbits in the world. So if you want a very challenging breed that is affectionate, goofy, and one-of-a-kind near Atlanta then I'd be glad to talk with you.

I haven't been able to take many pictures lately, but I will work on that. I have been studying hard for the state board exam, so I am just hoping and praying I only have to take it once. I have also been under the weather for weeks now and have been to the Dr. twice. It's like my body knew I couldn't afford to miss a day of nursing school so now it is all catching back up, lol. Nothing to do but keep on keepin' on though!

Thanks for reading! I'll be taking some new pictures and posting more updates just as soon as I can. :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012


 I am not going to go into the gory details, but I read a post on a forum that I regularly visit tonight that just sickened me involving an owner taking it upon themselves to destroy dogs that were in their yard attacking their rabbits. Mind you, their yard is not fenced in nor were they supervising rabbits they had in a flimsy tractor set-up.

As a rabbit owner and a dog owner, let me please take this time to humbly ask both rabbit and dog owners for the following:

1. Consider fencing in the yard. Even if you can't fence in the whole thing, consider a section. Sturdy fencing please.

2. Supervise animals in an unfenced/unprotected area. It is the only fair option to them and to you.

3. Although someone elses dog should not be in other people's yard, please consider that it may have never happened before. Maybe a family member left the gate open or something? That dog or cat might be some kid's heart critter- give them a chance or call animal control before taking it upon yourself to end them with weapons.

4. For the love of everything holy, consider actions AND the repercussions before doing anything!

5. Remember that the world is judging what you do and what you say all the time on the internet. Regardless of whatever decision is made, is it really a good idea to post a horrifying story on a public forum? I am not sure what there is to gain. Sympathy? Popularity? Infamy?

All that I have found is someone I never want to associate with for any reason ever again.

This has been a public service announcement. Thank you for your time.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I did it!

Sorry I haven't been around much. I've been busy graduating from nursing school! :o) :o) :o)

Be back soon,


Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Hoppin' Circle- March Wrap-Up

At Home Pets tackles the tough topic of spaying/neutering rabbits.

The Kelfla Project explains how she values a group effort in her goal of beating the standard.

Fuzzibutt's Rabbitry makes her wrap up debut with a post about how her rabbitry was in the news!

The Nature Trail plays 'Hide and Seek' with a pair of Polish babies.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Bad

Part II of a three part series.

I've already talked about what I feel are some of the best parts about raising rabbits. Now let's talk about some of the less-than-perfect things. I know this isn't really a happy topic, but it is an honest one and I think it is worth sharing, especially to potential new owners.

First, the more obvious stuff that most people already know. Rabbits are prey animals- they can get spooked very easily by the most innocuous of sounds, sights, or smells. Assuming they don't kick you in the face, they usually scratch or lash out when this happens. Sometimes they just bolt. Mean ones will bite (though they might also attack because they are evil). Temperaments are never guaranteed with rabbits, just like with any other rabbit. I had the sweetest New Zealand doe that turned into a psychopath when she matured.

Also because they are prey animals, they tend to be less hardy overall and less adaptable than predator pets like cats, for example. In fact, rabbits can get seriously ill from stress alone.. and yes, they can die from it. That is definitely a bad point to me and a big change from some more easy-going species. That is not to say that rabbits are dying of fright or stress-related disease left and right, but I am willing to bet that it is more prevalent than some would have you believe.

Some other things to think about. While rabbits may not need exact temperatures, humidity requirements, etc. like an amphibian, they still need some very specific housing. They can't be kept too hot or too cold and they need good air circulation as they can be prone to respiratory issues and heat stroke in particular. Unlike dogs that can free roam the house or yard and find somewhere comfortable, rabbits don't usually have this opportunity. This is primarily because things want to eat them, but also because they are really adept at getting themselves killed. Biting through electrical cords, eating things they can't digest, snapping their own backs like twigs, eating toxic plants, and having a heart attack from fear are just a few of the lovely things that rabbits have killed themselves with over the years. So, they really should only be kept in a bunny-proofed area and preferably with supervision when they are out of their enclosure.

Aside from the various ways that rabbits die, they can be a huge pain to breed. People talk about things "breeding like rabbits," but they must not have ever tried to be a rabbit breeder. As several of us can attest, some years are just not good years for producing kits. There are a variety of reasons that we try to come to terms with, but sometimes it just comes down to fortune. Same with trying to show and finding that all the rabbits are blowing their coats, or having a great mom suddenly kill her kits for no reason. It can be frustrating.

Rabbits have a very sediment-laden urine that can produce strong ammonia smells and can cake their trays and cage. Vinegar washes work pretty well to get rid of it, but these rinses also corrode the housing, so that is not a great thing. Some rabbits also spray- thankfully this hasn't happened to me (yet), but I have been told by several people that rabbits can become adept at spraying their owners directly in the face and even in their mouth. That is just awful to me- beyond words...ugh!

Rabbits shed like crazy seasonally- and I mean it will coat the building they are in with fur. You, too. I haven't found a good way to deal with this other than spot cleaning and when they are done going in and burning hair off cages with a torch or blowing out the whole building. Either way, it is very messy. Angoras are 10X worse if they aren't plucked- it starts to mat quickly and then you start finding streamers of 4" hair all over the place.

This post is so ridiculous that it is starting to make me laugh, but I think that is because in a large way.. rabbits are ridiculous, too. They are! I'm sure anyone that owns them for longer than a week can attest to sometimes how downright crazy things can get when you live with them.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Good

My next three posts will be about the good, the bad, and the ugly in raising rabbits. I know when I first became involved, it was really a lot of sunshine and rainbows. I didn't have any health issues in my herd, I was doing reasonably well in my first shows, and was harvesting angora for spinning left and right. Life was good. Then I started planning litters, kits were born, things started popping up that I had never dealt with before, and I ended up with some rough lessons in the truth of raising any animal, big or small.

Today we are going to focus on the good parts of breeding rabbits though. There are a lot of positives, there is no doubt about it. First and foremost, it can be very rewarding when everything goes right. Producing homebred stock of quality can generate feelings of accomplishment. Winning on the show tables can plaster a big grin on anyone's face. Having adorable baby bunny faces greet you in the morning first thing that you helped bring into the world is an amazing experience, too.

Other wonderful things about rabbits: they don't take up acres of space, they don't smell, they don't typically vocalize at all. They are relatively low-maintenance for a small set-up. They don't cost even half of what some larger animals do to take care of. Most of their equipment can be attained at the local feed store or online for fairly reasonable prices. They can be affectionate, playful, and fun. Their binkies are a joy to behold. They come in almost every color, size, and pattern that one could dream up. The main American club (ARBA) is very organized and helpful. There are also plenty of folks out there that love to help newbies get going.

Some other great things: rabbits can make fantastic pets. They can also produce meat for the family, be fun to show for kids and adults alike. Certain breeds produce wool for spinning/crafts, and other breeds can be harvested for their full coats. They are a very multi-purpose utilitarian animal. Their diets are relatively simple and low-cost. They produce manure that is gold to anyone's garden.

There are so many good things to say. Do you have any you would like to add?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mini Lop Kits

Just thought I'd post a couple pictures of my last Mini Lop litter. They were sired by Hulk and Serenity is their mother. After all those litters where I wanted does, now that I am moving out of the breed these both appear to be nicely typed does, lol.

Agouti side view:

Agouti head view:

I'm pretty sure the kit above is a shaded agouti (shagouti), but she is definitely a blue chinchilla regardless.

Here is the smoke pearl doe:

And a head view:

I actually like the agouti the best right now, too bad she probably isn't showable if that is shading on her ears/muzzle. They are from a smoke pearl X blue silver-tipped steel pairing.

They are both available for sale along with the last of my Mini Lops- two senior does and a senior chocolate buck. 

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Breeding Plans

I had only planned a handful of breedings before the bucks and does have the summer off. For whatever reason though, there hasn't been a lot of cooperation. So far the only successful breeding was between Bonus and Tacoma last week and finally Kari and Apollo tonight. I try to time the breedings so that multiple does can kindle together, but it just wasn't meant to be this time around. No other pairings have been successful this Spring, so fingers crossed that these two will have nice litters as we won't have anything else planned until Fall.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I normally like the transition from a chilly Winter to a breezy Spring. But not this year.

Don't get me wrong, the flowers have arrived and it is very pretty out. This is one of the Japanese cherry blossom trees that I planted years ago starting to bloom this past week:

And here it is now:

They look great, but what you can't tell from this picture is how hot and humid it has been. Or how my white car is now yellow from pollen:

As much as I love this, I am already officially ready for Fall again:

Just thought I'd share.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Do you think he knows he is handsome? I do.

"I can't help it if I am studly." ~Bonus

Looking left:

Looking right:

Looking right at cha!:

It was nasty outside yesterday (at least to Bonus and I) at 85 and humid, so we had to make it a short photo shoot for both of our sakes. He was still glad to show off his handsome mug obviously. :o)

Bonus also has a great personality and is very laid-back. He was bred successfully to Tacoma yesterday a few hours before picture-time. Hopefully she took and all goes well. Little Bonus babies would be absolutely fabulous! I also think that if I could get a few keeper does anything like their parents that they would be very complimentary to Apollo and Helo in particular. Fingers crossed!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Last Roadtrip Post

In the last post about the trip, I was talking about how pretty the Bradford pear trees are all along the road in Elijay, GA. Here is another picture of it further down:

As Blue Ridge nears, all these cute little farms start popping up in the valleys:

I wouldn't mind that pasture one bit. :oP

Blue Ridge! This is the turn to the old town section where the scenic railway is obviously:

Blue Ridge was pretty much centered around the railroad back in the day:

I'm just going to post a series of pictures from the town. It is so cute:

 Finally left Blue Ridge and continued onward. This time we went to Blairsville, then up through Young Harris and beyond. What a beautiful area:

All I can say is that it is a beautiful place and I wish I could live there. Thanks for coming on the trip with me- I hope you enjoyed the ride. :o)