Northern California Angora Guild

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Allen's Presentation of Wool Texture at the Judges Conference

There are many sessions and classes one could attend in the ARBA conventions.  A participant could really learn from these sessions.  On Oct. 19, there were RabbitCon sessions and there was also a Judges' Conference going on.  RabbitCon required additional payment but the Judges' Conference was free for anyone to participate and to attend. 

In the Judges' Conference, the most interesting session for us Angora people was Allen's hands-on session on wool texture.  

Allen uses pool noodles and an accordion style cloth hanger to aid his presentation about the wool pliability.

There are plenty of wool on the table for participants to touch and feel.

There were quite a few people standing close to the table.

Allen is very animated in his presentation.
Touch it, he says.
There are various wool samples on the table for participants to touch and feel.

Allen gave a written handout in addition to giving the participants the chance to touch different kinds of wool.  Here are some quotes from his handout:

The more pliable the wool shaft, the softer it will feel.  The finer (narrower) the wool shaft, the more pliable it will be, and moreover the softer it will feel.  On the contrary, the thicker the wool shaft, the less pliable it will be, and thus the coarser it will feel.   An easy comparison is to think of wool fibers like trees.  When the wind blows, the sapling (fine diameter trunk) bends and bows while the old oak tree (thick diameter trunk) harles bends at all.  Wool shaft diameter plays the most crucial role in texture.
If we think of wool like trees, let's consider three types of trees: sapling (soft and short), oak tree (coarse and long), and poplar (middle of the texture spectrum and long).   Considering this analogy, follow this table for a more concise summary.  The (+) represents the ratio of each wool type.

Breed                   Texture Points      Underwool                       Guard Hair
English Angora              20               Sapling ++++                   Poplar +
French Angora               20               Sapling +++                     Oak Tree ++
Giant Angora                 20               Sapling +++ Poplar +       Oak Tree +
Satin Angora                  15              Sapling +++                      Sapling ++*
American Fuzzy Lop       5               Sapling +++                      Oak Tree ++
Jersey Wooly                 14               Sapling +++                      Oak Tree ++
*Satin Angora guard hair should be longer but similar in diameter to underwool.    

Texture Vocabulary

There are several words we use to describe wool that can be very useful in pinpointing exactly what we feel and see as judges:
Prime:     (+) Guard hair and underwool are nearly the same in length, guard hair and underwool have the appropriate ratio.
Bouncy:   (+) A correctly textured coat that is full of life and comprised of the appropriate amount of guard hair to give the coat free-flowing appeal.
Hairy:       (-) Guard hair far outnumbers the presence of underwool; little crimp to the underwool (straight); resembles human hair (high luster).
Cottony:   (-)  Underwool far outnumbers the presence of guard hair; underwool and guard hair are similar in texture (too soft).
Harsh:       (-)  Guard hair is very thick in diameter and lacks pliability.

Friday, November 08, 2013

RabbitCon Session: Wool Breeds

Judges Nate and Carol are the co-speakers of the wool breeds, they use a light hearted humorous approach to introduce the wool breeds and the special needs of the wool breeds.   The room was constantly filled with laughs.

Nate opens the session by introducing the topic, wool breeds.  There are four wool breeds: English Angora, French Angora, Giant Angora, Satin Angora, American Fuzzy Lop and Jersey Wooly.

Carol talks about the wool gene being recessive and it's hidden in many breeds due to previous use of the Angora to improve the fur in various normal fur breeds.

Carol describing English Angora.

Carol describing French Angora.

Carol describing Giant Angora.

Carol describing Satin Angora.

Carol describing American Fuzzy Lop and housing needs.

Nate stresses that the wool breed rabbits are more prone to have wool and poops entangled in the wire floor, it's important to keep up the cleaning.

Once of twice a year, all cages should be flamed and power washed.  Nate shows how much his son Stewart is helping with the big cleaning.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

RabbitCon Session: Ask the Experts

On Saturday, October 19, 2013, RabbitCon was in session.    Betty was honored to be a panel member of the "Ask the Experts" session with Randy and Josh, two top judges. 

There is no set topic in this session.   The participants can ask any questions, Randy, Josh and Betty try their best to answer.

Among some of the questions are posing, depth vs. width, meat rabbit production,  priming the wool for show, flying with rabbits to conventions, ...


Betty says that showing is very much like studying in school, you prepare your rabbits and you study the judges.   Both judges are having a good laugh when Betty describes how they prefer the English Angora; Randy prefers them younger and fresher while Josh prefers them a little more mature.


Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A News Write Up on ARBA Convention at Harrisburg



Farm Show Complex Hosts Large National Rabbit Convention

11/2/2013 7:00 AM
By Michelle Kunjappu Reporter


HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg is often full of livestock, and the third week in October was no different. But, the sheer number of animals exhibited — 22,000 — was an impressive statistic, even for the Farm Show Complex.

From October 19 to 23, Harrisburg played host to an annual convention conducted by the largest rabbit organization in the world, The American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA), marking the first time the convention has been hosted here in Pennsylvania since 1976, in York, Pa., and drawing enthusiastic participants from not only the Mid-Atlantic region but also across the nation and internationally.

Back to Pennsylvania

ARBA boasts 23,000 members. ARBA’s district nine, which includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Washington D.C., has the second-largest concentration of ARBA members in the world, according to Eric Stewart, ARBA executive director. This year marked ARBA’s 90th annual national convention.  The convention at the Pennsylvania Farm Show was “wonderful,” Stewart said. Though Stewart is based in Emlenton, Pa., the organization itself is based in Bloomington, Ill.

The sprawling Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex provided plenty of space for the animals and the site of the venue proved to be a drawing card for exhibitors.
“Because it hasn’t been in this area for a long time, people wanted to see the area,” said Stewart, noting that Gettysburg and Washington D.C. were some top picks for convention exhibitors, who came from not only the U.S. but also Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and England.

Stewart also noted the support of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in not only welcoming the convention and ARBA members to Harrisburg, but in its work for rabbit breeders’ rights, he said. Additionally, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a resolution marking Oct. 20-26 as Pennsylvania Rabbit and Cavy Week in honor of the nationwide convention in Harrisburg.  Stewart estimates the economic impact of the convention to be “generally two million (dollars) at whatever location we’re at each year,” he said.

Veterinary Care

During the five days of the convention, veterinarian Wendy Feaga, of Twin Oaks Veterinary Practice, in Ellicott City, Md., oversaw the health of the high-end rabbits, whose price tags ran anywhere from $100-$300 and up.   Feaga, a veterinarian for 33 years, did not learn about rabbits in the vet school curriculum, but through raising her own rabbits, which she has done for more than 40 years. During the convention, Feaga, who volunteered her time for the event, worked to keep her small charges healthy in two rooms of a “sick bay” area in the second floor of the Farm Show building.
Since she sees mostly dogs and cats in her practice, Feaga does not give herself the “rabbit specialist” title since veterinarians need a special certification for that. However, over the 40 years she has raised rabbits as a hobby and volunteered as a 4-H rabbit club leader, she has become well versed on the typical ailments that she saw during the convention. Armed with medicines she brought from her own practice, Feaga treated anything from serious problems such as a common chronic upper respiratory infection — called “snuffles” in rabbits — to wool block or ear mites.
Feaga did not look over the rabbits as they arrived — the massive volume of rabbits prevented that — but instead said, “We trust the exhibitors to bring healthy rabbits.” Also, she said, each breed chairman may spot problems and bring sick rabbits up to her.

Record-Breaking Youth Participation

This year the convention broke ARBA’s all-time record of youth contest participants, according to executive director Stewart. The contests include, for example, a royalty contest, plus breed identification or management contests — in all, 22 different contests for youth. Stewart attributes the higher-than-normal participation to strong leadership in the area. Elizabeth Gallagher, 15, Lititz, Pa., has participated in the youth contests at ARBA’s national convention for the past four years. Her mother, Luann, is the 4-H rabbit club leader for Lancaster County, Pa. “The youth contests had an overwhelming rise in participants,” said Elizabeth Gallagher about this year’s convention. She said there were more than 800 youths that entered the educational events. This year she ran for ARBA queen and competed in achievement, breed identification and judging. She also competed as part of a team for a breed identification contest.  Competing on the national level takes commitment, and “it seems like I never stop preparing for convention,” Gallagher said, “whether it’s my rabbits, my knowledge, or just raising the money needed to get me there.”
Between studying, making breeding decisions, and caring for her rabbits, her animals are an important part of her life. Admittedly, “long car rides and dinnertime talk usually turns into conversations about rabbits, much to my family’s annoyance,” said Gallagher, who, because of her experiences with animals, has set her sights on becoming a large animal veterinarian.  The ARBA convention finally allows Gallagher to talk about rabbits to her heart’s content.  “I love being able to discuss pressing topics with rabbit breeders my age and share my knowledge with them,” she said. “Whenever we meet up with the state youth teams, I have a feeling of belonging ... I’m able to teach younger kids and help them become knowledgeable rabbit breeders.”
“I can relate to kids from all over the nation through my rabbits,” said Gallagher, who attends the Commonwealth Connections Academy cyber school. “I learn a lot about responsibility, teamwork and good sportsmanship.”

Meat Rabbits

Jules Kerdeman, Manheim, Pa., spent several years going to rabbit shows with his wife and grandson before he decided, “If I’m going, I’m going with something of mine to show,” he said.  Consequently, three years ago he chose the Californian breed and purchased a buck from friends in New York and later followed that up with some does from Michigan. His show herd, now numbering roughly 25, has been to ARBA-sanctioned shows in Lebanon, Pa., State College, Pa., West Virginia, Maryland and New York.   Kerdeman works with his grandson, Bryan, who does the showing, and the pair took nine Californians to Harrisburg, coming home with a first-place junior doe that went on to win the best opposite of breed title (similar to reserve champion of the breed).   “In perspective, it (showing at the ARBA convention) would be almost like the Westminster Kennel Club — it’s the premier thing,” Kerdeman said. “This is the national show — when you go there, everything has to be just so. Winning is really an accomplishment. They’re all good ones there. It comes down to the personal preference of the judge.”   Since Californians are a meat breed, the Kerdemans don’t have to go to quite the extent of preparation needed for the fiber breeds. However, two or three weeks prior to the convention there is a daily regimen of spraying a specially formulated mixture on the rabbits and wiping them down to get all the dead hair out.
“What you do want is you want them to look as good as possible for the condition of coat they’re in,” Kerdeman said. “You can’t stop or delay molting or anything like that, but you want to work the coat and make it a look as good as you can make it look. When they molt, the old hair is going to be brittle and dead-looking, and won’t have a shine to it.”    Outside of raising Californians for show, however, there is a market for meat rabbits, since the meat is purported to be high in protein and iron, and several small animal markets in the area provide an outlet for meat rabbit growers.
One of the best parts, though, about exhibiting rabbits, Kerdeman said, is the people he talks to during each show.    He said the camaraderie with other rabbit exhibitors helps to make the work of exhibiting rabbits more worthwhile.    “I get to meet and talk with a lot of people,” said Kerdeman. “We basically have the same hobby.”

Rabbit Fiber a Winner for Hats, Scarves

Christine Oliver, Oakham, Mass., has been coming to the ARBA convention since 1991 and enjoys seeing some of the same exhibitors every year.  “It’s an old home’ week. It’s a yearly get-together for crazy rabbit people,” she laughed.    Oliver, who owns a herd of more than 20 English Angora rabbits, hand dyes and spins the wool for her knitted gloves and scarves.   A typical English Angora, she said, can produce a few pounds of fiber a year.   It’s this exceptionally soft fiber that led Oliver to own rabbits, even after a “no-livestock” dictate from her husband. A friend of hers heard of the rule and promptly purchased an English Angora rabbit for Oliver for Christmas. Her husband eventually capitulated on his “no-livestock” edict and allowed her to keep the rabbit, plus add to the herd over the years.    “There’s a huge yield with rabbits,” she said, explaining that one 6-1/2-pound rabbit can yield one to two pounds of fiber each year. The rabbits are shorn with fine scissors or clippers with a special blade every three to four months unless they are growing out a show coat.    “I can do that every three to four months and still get several inches of fiber,” she said, “which is very spinnable.”

Next year ARBA plans to hold its convention in Fort Worth, Texas.

(Normally NCAG blog does an abstract of a news article then provides a link.   In this particular case, the link will only work for a very limited period of time thus we are posting the entire article to preserve the memory.)    

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Wool/Skein/Garment Contest at the ARBA Convention in Harrisburg

The skeins are in protective plastic bags. 

The judging hide-a-way.

These are the raw wool entries.
These are some of the large wearable entries.

This white shawl receives the most attention but did not win the major prize.  The yarn is finely spun, knitting is exquisite and the beaded pearls are heavenly. 

This black shawl is the Best In Show winner in the W/S/G contest.

Here is another white shawl.

On Tuesday afternoon, the entries are taken down to be picked up by the participants.

The large wearables are in the bag ready to be returned to their owners.

Not sure what it is but it's cute.
On display are some of the wool entries.

A multi colored scarf.

Pretty pattern and soft color combination.


Monday, November 04, 2013

Best In Show Judging at the ARBA Convention in Harrisburg, PA

The Best In Show judging is done in a horse arena.  This photo was taken during the youth Best In Show judging.

According to the result book, there were a total of 5200 rabbits and 751 exhibitors in the youth show.

Most of the spectators are on the upper level for a better overall view.   This photo was taken during the youth Best In Show judging.

The four open group judges are introduced to the spectators.  

Group 1 judge is Mike Avesing, the president of ARBA,
Group 2 judge is Josh Humphries, Standard Committee member,
Group 3 judge is Randy Shumaker, vice president of ARBA,
Group 4 judge is Allen Mesick, RabbitCon facilitator. 

This photo was taken by Candy Haenszel who was sitting in the upper level. 
 Betty is sitting in the first row in light pink with her English Angora BOB in Group 3, to the right of Betty is Charlotte who wears long hair and dressed in dark blue, with her BOB French Angora in Group 2.   To the right of Charlotte are Janine in light blue and Timothy in medium blue whose BOB Satin Angora is also in Group 2.

According to the result book, there were 15,472 rabbits and 1,470 exhibitors in the open show.

In the open show, Group one judge is Mike Avesing, he is in the far left, Betty wasn't able to get an individual picture.

Group two judge Josh Humphries is examining an Angora, either French or Giant.

Group three judge is Randy Shumaker judging the English Angora.
Group four judge is Allen Mesick who is in the far right.  

Betty was sitting in the middle of the first row in front of the very high stage and table.

The Best In Show judge is Eric Stewart who checking on the Group four winner, a Jersey Wooly.

This photo was taken by Candy Haenszel who was on the upper level.  It gives an overview of the Best In Show arrangement.  All BOB winners except the four Angoras are in the small holding coops on the back table.  The trays of coops are stuffed with shavings so the four breeds of Angora are in their own carriers on the floor.   Eric Stewart is examining the Group three winner English Angora.

These $500 checks are prizes for the group winners, sponsored by Manna Pro.

The Best In Show goes to the Group one winner, a Florida White.  The owner's name is Doug Harrah.

Here are three happy Group winners, Julie Spier and her black Havana on the left, Betty Chu on the right with her English Angora in the middle and Amber Henderson and her broken Jersey Wooly.   All three ladies have known each other for a long time as they live in a 20-mile radius at the southern tip of Silicon Valley in CA. 

Being in the top four out of 15,472 rabbits, all three ladies are feeling the joy of being recognized for the quality of their rabbits.  

Betty and her prize of winning Group 3, a $500 check; in addition there is also a trophy.


Sunday, November 03, 2013

Waiting For Best In Show Judging

On Monday, October 21, 2013, afternoon, all Best of Breed winners were summoned to the waiting area for the Group and Best In Show judging.   It turned out to be a close to 3 hour wait on wood chips and horse manure that were left over from the horse show a few days prior.  No chair nor table provided.      It was a difficult wait so we tried to keep ourselves entertained by taking pictures of each other.

Brock's beautiful fawn doe is the youth BOB winner; English Angora is assigned to Youth Group 3. 

Betty's English Angora BOB is in Open Group 3.

Charlotte's French Angora BOB is in Open Group 2.

Ashley's Giant Angora BOB is also in Open Group 2 with the French Angora.

Janine's Satin Angora BOB is also in Open Group 2 with the French Angora and Giant Angora.

Amber's Jersey Wooly BOB winner is in Open Group 4.

Julie's Havana BOB is in Open Group 2 with the French Angora, Giant Angora and Satin Angora.

Also in Open Group 2 is Nate and Stewarts American Fuzzy Lop BOB.

It was a draw of luck that three of the Group winners are in the above photos.    There will be photos of Group and BIS judging posted tomorrow.