Northern California Angora Guild

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Charlie Makes News

Charlie has made a splash on the local newspaper at Ukiah where he and David call home.

The article is posted on:

with the title of "Fluff and Stuff" written by Carol Brodsky, published on 12/27/09. It's a very well-written article and very accurate. Here is the article in entirety.

'Acting, Angora rabbits and attitude.

No, Naugahyde sofas were not made from the skins of the fearsome Nauga. And Angora sweaters do not come from the fur of the elusive Angora.
Charlie Lacey, president of the Northern California Angora Guild and board member of the California Wool and Fiber Festival routinely educates spectators regarding the origin of their fine sweaters during his near-legendary Angora rabbit clipping demonstrations at the Mendocino County Fair.

Lacey has been a resident of Willits for 16 years, beginning as a part-timer when he and his partner David originally purchased their 40-acre rural parcel. When Lacey retired from Wells Fargo Bank at the age of 55 after 33 years of employment, the couple was able to move to the county full-time.
"I started at Wells Fargo in the mail room," explains Lacey. "It seemed like a good foot in the door. An opening came up in the microfilm department. I had previous experience in film processing, so I applied for the position and got it." Back then, banks relied on microfiche for data storage, but gradually the department moved into computer operations. "You were able to get on-the-job training back then. I hit the jackpot. I have been one of the lucky, lucky people in life," Lacey muses.

Prior to his retirement, Lacey visited the Boonville Fair and saw his first Angora rabbit. "Someone was showing a French Angora rabbit. I'd never seen anything so gorgeous in my life," he recalls. David was involved in fiber arts, and Lacey thought raising the rabbits might be a way to supplement his retirement income.

"I took up spinning first," says Lacey. "Then I went on line. I researched everything about rabbits, the wool and the business. I read and read." Lacey was lucky to meet Betty Chu - the foremost breeder of English Angora rabbits worldwide. "I devoured everything on her website," Lacey explains.

After careful consideration, Lacey decided to get a rabbit. "I thought, I'll just get a pet quality rabbit to start. I met Betty at a show and she brought me my first rabbit, which I fell in love with." That rabbit developed an illness and died within about five months. "Betty offered another rabbit at a reduced price, which is what most reputable people would do. I think she also wanted to encourage me to get into this," he smiles.

His second rabbit was named Whitey. "I got a lot of flack for that name. People would say, boy, I bet that took a lot of thought.'" Though he had a rabbit, he didn't have a show-quality animal - yet. "My friends said Charlie, you're the only person who goes to shows and doesn't bring a rabbit with you."

Lacey started out small. Today he has 20 English Angora rabbits - some for showing and others for "wool gathering."

"Like all show animals, rabbits have their standard of perfection that judges are looking for," Lacey explains. "The English Angora is a small rabbit with Dolly Parton hair." At about seven pounds, the compact body is utterly lost in the pouf of long wool which is blown, primped and combed until it achieves a level of fluff well exceeding twice the size of the rabbit's body.

Their temperament is very sweet, says Lacey. "I can't tell you how many times I've been at clipping demos and people have asked, is it tranquilized? Is it alive?'" The rabbits, virtually invisible except for two very round eyes and small, loppy, fur-covered ears, seem unfazed by their extensive, daily grooming sessions - to help display wool density and silky smooth coats.
Their wool is prized by spinners and can be plucked, clipped or combed. "All wool is hair, but not all hair is wool," explains Lacey, who says the rabbit's first coat is their best for showing.

He currently has three generations of rabbits, since rabbits are rabbits and their gestation period is a mere 31 days. Show-quality rabbits cost about $400, and their wool sells for $50 per pound. "It's definitely not a living, but the wool does pay for a few sacks of food," he smiles.

Who wouldn't try to sleep with one of these Tribbles-come-to-life? "You know what you get when you try to sleep with one? You get to clean the sheets. Are they pets? No. They have a job to do. I love them very much, but dogs and cats they aren't," Lacey said.

David and Charlie have been building their dream home, which they moved into only a few weeks ago. Coming from the city, Lacey has learned everything about country life - from compost privies to frozen pipes - and he loves it all. Lacey has performed in numerous productions for the Willits Community Theater. As an openly gay couple - one of the first to marry at the county courthouse in 2008, Charlie and David have found a community filled with loving, accepting friends and neighbors.

And as far as the rabbits go, Charlie is impishly philosophical. "They're a little like me. They'd rather be eating right now, but in the big picture, they have a pretty good life."'

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year 2010

Northern California Angora Guild wishes everyone a very Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bye Bye 2009

Where's the Champagne? Glasses are ready.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bunnies Are Hope

In order for a show exhibitor to continuously do well in shows, it is vital to be able to have bunnies at the right time so that the adults will peak at the right time. When a breeder is looking at the bunnies, he/she is not just seeing little cuties; the breeder is seeing the hope for the future.

Here are the hopes, a healthy litter of chocolate tort and fawn English Angora bunnies that could make big splashes in the shows in 2010.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Found On The Net: Surfice Dog

Little Ricki as a puppy, just started surfing in the kiddie pool.

Ricki as a youngster starting her career as a surfice dog.

Ricki is a full-fledged competitor in the So. CA. dog surfing circuit.

There is no misspelling in the title, it is "Surfice Dog" not "Service Dog". This is the story of Ricochet Rip Curl Ricki, The little surFUR girl.

When we were in Del Mar, we realized that it was a very dog-friendly town with a dog beach, several dog bakeries and the the headline in the local community newspaper was about dogs. We also saw that Del Mar beaches had a lot of surfers. We did not realize that there is a very famous surfing dog that routinely practice at the Del Mar beaches, or we would for sure look for her. Found on Internet is the story of Ricochet or "Rip Curl Ricki" in surfing code. In her words,

"I was born on January 25, 2008, and was the 9th puppy in a litter of 10. I was born, and raised as part of the Puppy Prodigies Neo-Natal & Early Learning Program with hopes of becoming a service dog, and helping people. But, they tell me I'm a little too interested in chasing birds, and other small animals. So, my career path changed, and instead of being a service dog, I became a SURFice dog! Now, I have a personal mission called "Surfin' for Paws-abilities" which raises money for charitable causes."

The websites for Ricochet and for Puppy Prodigies are absolutely wonderful. There are lots of videos and photos of dog training. Some of the techniques could be applied to rabbits easily. If you have some time in hand, click these websites and hope you will enjoy the stories, photos and videos.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Raykun's New Paintings

Betty says,

"Each year I go to shows in Red Bluff, in addition to attending shows, one of the treats is to visit my good friend Raykun. Raykun and I went to graduate school in Economics together at University of Notre Dame in Indiana long time ago. Her family lives just outside of Redding, 40 minutes northeast of Red Bluff; see the top photo. We usually have dinner together then I'd stay overnight.

Last year Raykun started taking classes in painting. She is getting very good at it. She showed me some of the paintings that she did in 2009, I am putting the photos here to share."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Maddex Gets A Hair Cut

Maddex, BOS at the ARBA convention, in his prime coat.

Close up of Maddex during his first hair cut

Maddex's nice little body is starting to be visible.

Maddex with his wool in the "peacock" form.

Little body, big wool

Maddex in plastic bag? No, it's Maddex's wool in plastic bag.