Northern California Angora Guild

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Remember When: How to Start the Wrong Way

Betty has encountered the question of "How did you start in English Angora?" many many times in the last 20+ years.

Here is the beginning of the story.

In July 1982, Betty wrote down the name of an exhibitor who advertised English Angora bunnies for sale in the Santa Clara County Fair and called her. In August, Betty received a call back and said there's a litter of English Angora bunnies ready to go, so Betty drove to the Santa Cruz mountains to look at them. It was a narrow winding road, a very difficult drive. Betty arrived in a small cabin with a barn next to it. The residence had no water, no electricity, no ... Betty did not even know that there were places like that in the modern time. Anyway, there were litters of little bunnies, 4 weeks old ones, at a very low price. Though it's not a good idea to buy 4-week-old bunnies, the price was right and the drive was hard. Betty bought an English Angora bunny and a French Lop bunny of the same age to keep each other company. The breeder told Betty that the rooster that just came back from the Santa Clara Fair would be chicken soup the next day, so Betty bought the rooster as well.

Here are two pictures taken in 1982. In the top picture, Betty was seen with the 4 week old bunny, Angelina. At 2 months old one of Angelina's ears dropped. One up ear and one down ear. Betty took Angelina to the show for the first time in the fall, the down ear went back up and stayed up for the rest of her life. At five months old, Angelina won a BOB in a very small show and got her first leg. Betty was really excited. The second picture was taken when Angelina was at her prime at 5 months old.

Two weeks later, Angelina gave birth to seven dark bunnies, a total surprise. Angelina was the only English Angora that Betty owned then. Well, it was a chestnut agouti French Lop junior buck that did the job. The mixed breed bunnies were some of the ugliest thing one would've ever seen. Their ears were going every direction, all chestnut agouti, all with very pointed faces. Luckily Betty found pet homes for all of them.

Then Angelina was taken back to shows and was able to get two more legs and became a Grand Champion. The GC really does not mean much if the genes are not good. Betty bought a white English Angora buck out of the same line from another breeder. The bunnies from the pair were pretty when they were young, but all became big, long and narrow with long ears when they grew up; some had floppy ear problems.

Finally Betty realized that this was not a line to be extended. She stopped breeding Angelina and Angelina lived out her natural life and passed on at about 6 years old. Nothing from Angelina stayed in Betty's breeding program. Betty started with a different line. Story to continue.

What happened to the French Lop bunny and the rooster that came with Angelina? The French Lop doe was later sold to another French Lop breeder as Betty had switched from French Lop to English Angora. Betty bought several hens for the rooster as his wives. He had a good life for over 9 years until a raccoon got into the chicken coop and destroyed his entire family.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Elsia and Her One Bunny

Cathy and Kim report an amazing news.

Elsia was bred but no sign of being pregnant. After one week of her due date, Cathy and Kim took out her nestbox. Kim got up around 3 am and found Elsia having two bunnies on the wire, one black and one white. The white one was revived and now over one week old.

Cathy said, "We are just taking it one day at a time. The ears and eyes are almost open and the bunny is very responsive. He/she has a stuffed moose to snuggle against and we caught Elsia snuggling up to the baby. We are keeping the baby in the nest box away from Elsia. She is a good mom and doing her best."

It is amazing that a live birth resulted from such an overdue pregnancy

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Holly, Now and Then

We have read quite a few things about Holly, our Canadian member. Her recent win of four Best In Show out of four shows with her two English Angora does are reported in many on line lists. A huge congratulations.

Holly has been a lifetime rabbit lover. Here is the proof.

The top picture is her with her beautiful tort doe HHR's Sahara today. The second picture is Holly at eleven, with the first bunny born to her breeding. She was not sure what breed it was, but it was a bunny! From a "don't know what breed" bunny to the top quality multiple Best In Show winning English Angora today, Holly has come a long way.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

What A Difference A Blower Can Make

In the post two days ago, Betty mentioned that the size of the top winning English Angora before 1989 carried a much shorter coat than the top winning animals today. The reasons given were the breed improvement and the use of blower as the major grooming tool.

Here is a good example of the benefit of blower.

Here are two pictures of the same rabbit, Chu's Crystal Cream, taken three years apart.

In the top picture, blue tort doe Crystal Cream was 5-1/2 months old. She won the first place of the colored junior doe class, went on to win over the senior doe to receive the BOSV honor in the 1987 Portland convention (the BOV was her father Chu's Cosby). There were over 100 colored does in the convention, and she was the best. In 1987, there was no blower. It's an accomplishment to be able to maintain the show coat to 4 or 5 inches with a slicker blush.

Three years later in 1990, Betty took Crystal Cream back to the convention in Tampa, Florida. Crystal Cream was 3-1/2 years old, already a grandma and retired from breeding. With diligent grooming using a blower and blushes, Crystal Cream's coat was about 7 inches long with tremendous density. Though it's not the length and density of today's English Angora, Crystal Cream was a sight and feel to be appreciated in 1990. She won the Best of Breed over more than 200 English Angora in the ARBA convention in Tampa and was the reserve to the 4 class.

This was the same rabbit. The difference is the blower, with the care given by her mom Betty.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Successful Ventures of Vicki and Kelly

We all love our Angora rabbits. Some of us show and some of us make products from our rabbits. It is seldom that we could be successful in both activities.

Vicki and Kelly of MN, a mother and daughter team, are one of the very few who are successful in both the show ring and business world.

In 1996, Kelly was still showing in youth. Her doe won the group in the Peoria convention. In 1998, the last year Kelly was showing in youth, her doe Lauren took the Youth Best In Show in the Portland convention. Both does were the daughters of Betty's rabbit Chu's Casper.

Vicki, after Kelly went off to college, decided to start a wool business with all the Angora rabbits that they own. Less than six years later, she is running a business that is successful in every aspect. Here is a report about her success

Her business website is

The top picture was taken immediately after Kelly's winning the Youth Best In Show in the 1998 convention, mom Vicki is in red blouse. The two judges in the picture are Cliff Dick at the left, the judge who picked the Best In Show; on the very right was Don Matthews who picked Kelly's rabbit as the Group winner. Don had since passed on.

The second photo is Kelly with Lauren and the Best In Show trophy at the Heinold booth in the 1998 Portland convention.

The third and fourth photos show one of the booths that Vicki and her reps put on in trade shows. The banner in the middle is truly a crowd stopper. The two rabbits at the top and bottom of the banner are Kelly's rabbits; the big one on the left is Chu's Emilia and the small one on the right is Chu's Ashka. These two photos were supplied by Betty.

Vicki also served as the NARBC secretary for several years. She is considered as one of the best secretaries in the NARBC history.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Rabbit Stained Glass Art

One of the special features of Betty's newly remodeled barn is a rabbit stained glass art mounted close to the ceiling that catches the morning sun.

This rabbit stained glass art has its special place in Betty's show history.

This is the prize for the Best In Show won by tort doe Chu's Erica in an open all breed show. It was Betty's first Best In Show win. In December 1985, Northern California Rabbit Breeders Association (NCRBA) held its annual Christmas show at Cal Expo in Sacramento; there were 1800 rabbits in the show and Cindy Wickizer was the judge who picked Chu's Erica as the Best In Show.

NCRBA is still active and still holds the annual Christmas show in December, while the location has changed to Yuba City. Cindy Wickizer is the current ARBA president.

At the top, the picture in the picture is Betty and Erica with the stained glass prize. Yes, that was Betty 21 years ago. Erica is no longer with us, but the stained glass art and the tree behind Betty are still around. The trophies behind the picture are some of the other Best In Show prizes that Betty's rabbits won after that first win.

Some of our readers may wonder why Erica was so small comparing to the Best In Show rabbits today. The difference is due to the breed improvement and the blower. Angora breeders did not know to use a blower as a grooming tool until in the 1989 ARBA convention in Tulsa OK when Susan Conley demonstrated the benefit of a blower. A blower helps to keep the show coats untangled and to reach more length. Prior to 1989, a slicker brush and a comb were the only tools that we had.

The second picture shows that the rabbit stained glass is now a part of Betty's barn. It faces the east and catches the sun every morning.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Tracy's Adorable Satin Angora Bunnies

Storks have visited Tracy's rabbitry a few times.

Here are the results: Kelly Clarkson's litter of 8 at the top, Fufu's two white bunnies in the middle and Lorena's two red bunnies in the third slot.

These are all Satin Angora bunnies, they are as cute as they can be.