Monday, April 27, 2015

Eye Mystery

A while back, my foundation doe Kari developed a cloudy eye. She never had any drainage, and never acted like she had any discomfort. She is pretty old now- I believe 6 years off the top of my head- and I honestly didn't think much of it at the time. Maybe she had bumped it or it was just one of those things. As far as I can tell, Kari can't see out of it and there aren't any spots that are darker or lighter, no irritation around the membranes, etc. As the cloudy eye has persisted though, it does look like the whole eyeball has become slightly larger than the other over time. Even with this, she doesn't really favor a side, raised litters of kits perfectly, eats/drinks well, and has good condition. 

The thing is, I was "supervising" my poor husband taking care of them this week and I noticed a very faint cloudiness around Kurayami's eye towards one side. Upon closer inspection, it looks like the same kind of vague cloudiness that her Mom has, just less advanced. The eye also looks slightly larger than the other. I started looking at everyone's eyes with a penlight up close and personal and discovered that Valkyrie has the same thing, too. Both of these does were produced by Kari in different litters years ago.

Upon researching (because I have nothing if not time right now), this appears to be a hereditary form of glaucoma, which is apparently very common in domestic rabbits. I had never seen or heard of it before though, so I had to start digging through some books.

What I have found is that this disease causes deterioration in the eye and can go unnoticed for a long time because the damage is from the pressures inside the eye, not anything apparent to someone on the outside without special equipment. Slatter's Fundamentals of Veterinary Ophthalmology states that "medical treatment is ineffective" for rabbits with it. Apparently there have been genes identified in some New Zealand and Chinchilla lines in particular (bu gene), but it has cropped up in many other breeds. The age of onset is extremely variable. Rapid Review of Exotic Animal Medicine and Husbandry states that 1 in 4 of offspring from animals with the genetics for this may eventually show symptoms, though sometimes none do as the genes are not simply recessive. It also says that glaucoma in rabbits is not typically associated with pain like it is in other animals, and that by the time it is noticed clinically that the animal usually already blind in the effected eye(s). 

It is very unfortunate that 3 of my brood does are showing this problem and I'm not sure what to do from here other than try to keep moving forward. I wouldn't have bred them had it been evident to me that there might be a genetic link, but what's done is done. I will be watching their offspring very closely for any eye anomalies, but I just wanted to share the latest in case it is helpful at some point to anyone else. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mini Update

Everything is coming right along here at home. I'm still healing of course, so my husband has been taking care of all of the critters and property. I am so fortunate to have married such a caring and helpful man. The rabbits are all doing fine, too. The kits have grown a lot and are in that adorable stage where I want to kiss their little faces off. We still have quite a few culls to process, but that is on hold until we can work together again. The garden needs weeding badly for the same reason, but it is almost time to start harvesting lettuce, spinach, radishes and greens. The blueberries and raspberries will be going to fruit shortly, but right now the bumblebees are everywhere happily buzzing around and I'm content to sit in my little chair and watch them work. :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I'm Back!


Apparently I was completely unrealistic as to what I would be doing during my days following major surgery.

In my head, I'd be up and about quickly, eating solid foods, and super bored. I anticipated posting on the blog several times.

The reality was that I was out of my mind on strong medications, started on a clear liquid diet, and slept for days. My biggest accomplishment last week was being able to walk about 15 feet while hanging onto my IV pole for dear life.

Go me!

This week things are much better though. I'm back home, walking, and talking. Not for long periods, but it counts darnit! My hubby brought me one of the kits to pet last night and it had grown!

I missed everything here at home so much. I also missed blabbing about the latest with the garden/rabbits and reading about what my friends have been up to. I'm on a borrowed laptop right now, so I will be playing catch up for a little bit. Hope all is well with you and yours and can't wait to read about everything going on since I've been out. :)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pale Blue Dot

“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.” -Carl Sagan

Tomorrow's the big day. See you on the other side!  

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Another Dressing Percentage

We are trying to get caught up on our culls to reduce overall numbers before next week. Today we had a new record with one of the last New Zealands of almost 58% dressing percentage. I think it was actually closer to 60%, but I forgot to include the extras that I already removed and packaged for the dogs. That is between a 4-6% difference minimum from our Harlequins, which are averaging 52-54%. The NZ are also noticeably meatier and thicker in the loin in thigh. We only have limited space so our study doesn't have hundreds of participants, but it does suggest a pretty significant difference in meat qualities between the "commercial" type breeds when all other aspects are controlled (same amount of feed, same size housing, etc.). Just wanted to share in case it is helpful to anyone else.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Great Escape

I've been super busy, but I wanted to share a story from this week.

It was a dark and stormy night. Okay, so I'm not the best at writing stories. But it was 4:30AM and raining outside at least. I'm walking, still mostly-asleep, in my PJ's to check on the buns before I get ready for work. I grumble about useless dogs when I realize I am all alone on my way out the door because the durned furballs are still asleep in my bedroom. Upon arriving to the rabbitry, I know immediately something is wrong. Everyone is banging around in their cages when it is normally quiet. Worrying about a snake or a stray cat, I am cautiously peeking around, when suddenly, something prods the back of my leg!

Startled out of my boots, I may have squealed some words I won't repeat. Flicking all the lights on and now fully awake, I see an orange blur scurry underneath a stack of cages. Was that..? I kneel down, and underneath the tray staring back at me is what can only be described as a memorable face. It was something like this:

Yup, it was Jack, of course. I'm pretty sure the Harlequin motto is made for him as he is easily one of the most clownish and obstinate rabbits I've raised. He proceeded to show me how awesome he is by hopping around and rubbing his chin on everything in site, including my ankles. I had to laugh, but eventually scooped him up (while he hung like a sack of potatoes) so I could see how he escaped.

Upon further investigation, Jack has figured out how to unhook the J-feeder from his cage, move the clip up that holds the bin flush against the wire, and shove the whole thing out onto the concrete. He then transforms himself into a liquid bunny so that he may slither out onto the floor below. Lol. In all seriousness, I'm not exactly sure how he fits through the hole and down a few feet without breaking all of his bones.

And that, my friends, is how Jack woke my sleepy butt up before work this week. Hope everyone is doing well!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Latest

Just thought I'd share a little of what has been going on around the homestead.

First, we did lose another kit (one of the runts), but the 8 remaining look to be doing better than I thought they would. Yay! I still don't know what the future holds, but I'm thankful for what we have.

Second, one of the two kits from Kurayami looks to have a partial Dutch marking as fur develops. WHAT?! I've had a few white toes here or there (and have never kept or bred them), but unless this sheds out, it looks like a white streak across one shoulder. Of course it had to be 1 of the 2 survivors also.. grrr! I am finding the Dutch spotting gene to be quite an annoyance. I wish there was more information available about it. What little I know, I've gleaned from genetics textbooks and it is complicated and insidious. Sometimes I think Magpies would be the way to do so I don't have to pull my hair out over random white spots. Then I see Jack and the others with rich and bright rufous and my willpower drains away..

Third, I will be out of action starting next week and my husband will be taking care of everything while I am out. I've hinted at this, but the long and short of it is that I felt a lump, it turned out to be several masses (hopefully benign!),  and I will be undergoing a major abdominal surgery next week to have them removed. I will be at the hospital for at least a few days after, so if everything is okay, you may get tired of my incessant blog posts. Yes, I'm trying to plan ahead about what I want to write about because I am a dork. Honestly though I am scared, so I am focused on what my plans are afterward. I've never broken a bone or had any kind of surgery before, so nothing to do but plow forward into the great unknown, right?

Fourth, I am having to make some tough decisions so my husband has less to do while I am away. I culled a few older does out of the herd and I discovered that they need a serious exercise and diet program. I've never seen so much internal fat in my life. Holy cow! Effective today, my senior does are on Weight Watchers. Just kidding. But seriously, I'm going to utilize a lot more hay and a lot less pellets!

And fifth. My car is so yellow from pollen that I can't even tell it was supposed to be white. So gross! Does this happen everywhere else in the country or just here? It rained last night and the puddles are thick yellow goo. There is a yellow haze and I can't breathe and I found this picture that someone took in Atlanta:

Please send help because I'm pretty sure the apocalypse is here and it is.. yellow!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Difficult Litter

This will be a brief update because unfortunately I don't have much good news to share presently. We lost 1 of the 10 kits already and several others don't look very good. Of course the one that passed was one of Kurayami's, so there are only 2 left from her. Unfortunately, not one kit has a full belly yet that I've seen and some of them look downright rough. I don't think fostering the 3 that Kurayami had helped matters, but Tacoma isn't acting the same towards this litter as she did towards Pancake and Jack. I don't know what it is, but I am letting nature take its course due to lack of other options. None of the other 3 does took, so what we have now is pretty much it.

In the past I have attempted to bottle feed kits when the mother wasn't able or willing to do her job. I've never once had a bottle-fed kit survive long-term, even when it was getting small amounts of rabbit milk. In more recent years, I have decided against the practice as I believe it just prolongs the inevitable and still feel that way today. 

So that's pretty much it. I fully expect to lose another kit or four over the next few days, but hopefully Tacoma will become more interested and produce more milk. I feel very fortunate that we were able to get some kits from these older does. All the same, I am ready to get back to young and productive stock. My husband is frustrated by this endeavor and wants to work with New Zealands, but I am trying my best to stick with it and (hopefully) have enough of a line to continue forward into the next generations.