Archive for January, 2012

Why do we keep at it? Guest Post

January 20, 2012

On the outside, raising rabbits looks like so much fun.   Cute fluffy bunnies and tiny babies to play with that bring home big big trophies and ribbons?  Oh boy!

But get into it, and the good times are punctuated with lots of trouble.  Rabbits are extra wonderful because they are living things — but living things, well, stop living sometimes.  In this world, life comes with death.  Winning comes with losing.  But we stick with it.  Why?  Guest poster Laurie Stroupe answers that question…

Rabbits ARE Addictive

If you took psychology 101, you may remember the schedules of reinforcement. If you get a reward for doing something, you continue to do it. Once the reward stops, you discontinue the behavior.

But there are different schedules of rewards. Sometimes you get a reward everytime you do something. When the rewards stop, you stop the behavior very quickly. If you put quarters into a soft drink machine and get a soft drink, you’ll put quarters in next time you want one. But if you put several quarters in with no drink, you’ll quickly stop.

But with a variable schedule of reward, sometimes you get a reward and sometimes you don’t. But when you get that reward, it’s so desirable that you keep trying for the next one. If you put quarters into a slot machine, you may not get a reward every time. But when you do, it’s very exciting. People put lots of quarters into slot machines with no wins, just hoping for the next time. It’s very addictive.

And so it is with rabbits. I’ve gotten emails from people who are discouraged. Perhaps they lost a littter. Perhaps nothing promising has come from their nest boxes in awhile. Perhaps they’ve had judging inconsistencies that are frustrating. They question why they even do this.

And then one day, they go to the barn, and “find” a very promising youngster. JACKPOT. All is forgotten and suddenly they are ready to go again.

Yup, it’s an addiction.

12 Unlikely Useful Items in the Rabbitry

January 14, 2012

Be sure to keep these items on hand in the rabbitry…just in case you need them.
Dancing bunny graphic1. Marshmallow Creme. Spread on cage door to distract a chronic cage chewer.  Temporary fix.

2. Surveillance Camera in the Barn. Useful when you forget where you last put the toenail trimmers.

3. Extra storage card. For when it feels you just HAVE to take more video of those sweet little babies…even if you never end up watching it.

4. Standard of Perfection. Um.  Uhh…..  Everybody else has one!

5. Super duty triple-action Fort Knox quality combination lock and chain. To wrap around the cage once you realize that you have your first keeper in nine litters.

6. Metal saw. For when you forget the combination to aforementioned lock.

7. A dish of mints on a table.  Bunnies have no more excuse for bad breath.

8. Brick wall. To forcefully apply one’s head against when you realize you just bought a rabbit with buck teeth.

9. Amazing odor neutralizer: turns bunny smells into the scent of daffodils. Sorry, product no longer available due to manufacturer facing charges of false advertising.

10. Wire snips. For when a kit gets its head stuck in the wire and you have to cut it out.  (This one is serious — it has happened to me!)

11. Air conditioning. For when you have an older junior growing hotter by the day.

12. Bottle of Bubbles. For when a bunny’s sneezing, a doe is nesting on the wire, and you just want to go out and pretend you’re seven years old again to relax.

The Rocky Syndrome – btw: Back to Blogging!

January 8, 2012
Show quality Polish rabbit in the woods

Rocky's brother CQ - also had "the syndrome"

I once knew a girl whose AIM screenname was “Always2ndBest.”   Do you ever feel like that?   Yeeeaah…

In rabbits, Tiffany and I call it the Rocky Syndrome.  Those bunnies — usually bucks– that you can rely on placing in the top five in a large class, but never grand.  They rarely, if ever, come home with a win.  They’re always second-best.

Ever had one of those?

Rocky was a broken black Polish buck.  I bred him, but Tiffany showed him his whole career.  I would need to get the exact stats from her, but when Rocky finally retired he had one or two legs and at least 20 2nd or 3rd place finishes, in large classes.

His younger brother Conquistador had the same complex.  When I stopped showing CQ he had chalked up prestigious finishes such as second place at the ARBA convention AND Polish Nationals, but only had one leg to his name.

Why does this happen?  I think it happens to rabbits that are of very good quality, but just not quite great.  There’s nothing that jumps out about them that’s wrong, but they don’t have the flare of a BIS winner either.    Sometimes you can get a rabbit that looks just stunning…if you ignore all the scattered white hairs.  Or has some standout fault but is otherwise fantastic.  That kind of rabbit might win sometimes, and might not even be in the top five: it depends on how much that prominent fault bothers the judge.  Rocky and CQ weren’t like that.   They were all around good Polish rabbits:  short, round, deep, with good coats and a sort of “in the middle” head shape that could appease both the judges who like dwarfy heads and the ones that want longer, more refined heads.  But their patterns were plain, and they just didn’t have that edge.

So I’m curious to hear what you think: would you rather have a buck with the Rocky Syndrome, that doesn’t have any major issues and can rack up sweepstakes points (confess, you do care about sweeps points…), or would you rather have a rabbit that is flashy and almost amazing — but has a single glaring fault.

Polish rabbit body type

Not bad type on CQ

My answer:  Whichever makes better babies.

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By the way —  I’m back to blogging!  Going to try to post twice a week.  If you haven’t added your breeders listing to the free directory at the Nature Trail, send me a note and I’ll put up your info!

Next post planned:  12 Unlikely Items to Keep in the Rabbitry in Case of Emergencies.