Archive for September, 2013

Rabbit Fever the Movie – A Review

September 23, 2013

Rabbit fever movie youth royalty

At last!  A movie about us Rabbit People!

Recently I finally got the opportunity to watch the movie Rabbit Fever.  And you know what?  I’m glad I did.

Created by Amy Do, Rabbit Fever is a full-length documentary about the rabbit showing hobby.  It focuses on the ARBA Youth Royalty contest, following five young rabbit breeders in their quests to become the ARBA King or Queen.  We’ve been hearing about the production of this movie for years, and now it’s finally available via DVD and streaming at RabbitFever.com.  Amy gave about ten years and most of the resources she had – including funds she had intended to put toward a house – to producing this film, and I’m glad to be able to thank her for that effort.

A Very Personal Connection

ARBA Royalty Contests were the focus of my teenage years.  Like the “stars” in the movie, I poured all my effort into my dream of winning ARBA Queen.  In fact, the kids featured in the movie were my role models.  They were in the age group just above me, and so were the very people that I held in high respect.  Jeremy Garrett helped coach me in Royalty, and Jenna Anderson’s mom answered some of my questions when I was studying.

For a long time I didn’t want to see this movie.  Royalty contests were just too close to my heart.  Since I never did win National Queen (though I was twice a runner-up), I was afraid that seeing this movie would arouse competitive feelings that I didn’t want creeping back.  I was afraid that the movie wouldn’t depict the hobby accurately, that it would play up the Royalty contests to be different than they actually are, or caricaturize rabbit breeders as total weirdoes.  But it doesn’t.  I can say with confidence that Rabbit Fever portrays the hobby exactly as it is, and overall in a very positive light.  (In other words, if it does make rabbit breeders out to be total weirdoes, then I am too much of one myself to notice!)

The Content is Real

Amy did a great job capturing the spirit of rabbit royalty contests: so many young people putting so much time and effort into the project, when only a few come away with an award.  She shows how some youth members have worked at it for most of their lives, and how they give up “normal” teenage activities to focus on their rabbit projects.  She touches on both the hardcore “If I don’t win I’ll cry” competitiveness, and also the priceless friendships that youth members build with each other.  These major themes are brought to life by the little details that are oh-so-accurate, like the total randomness of the judging callbacks, and how easy it is to blow the four-minute interview that makes or breaks your chance at the crown.

Honestly when the film was over, it felt more like I had flipped through one of my personal scrapbooks than that I had just watched a movie.  Of course, it helped that I recognized a huge percentage of the people in it and even spotted myself in the background of one shot.  (I remember Amy being at Convention filming, but I didn’t know at the time that she was making a movie.)   I was there at that banquet in 2005, and at others in later years.  The film brought back the hold-your-breath jitters when the winners were being announced.  I identified with the girls on stage receiving their awards, and also with Lindsey Lauterbach looking into the happy banquet room once her royalty career was over and thinking, “this used to be me.”

These are my friends! A screenshot from the movie showing some Michigan team members

Film Quality is Good

To me the film feels a little rushed, but there’s so much to tell about the rabbit hobby, and an hour and twenty-three minutes is so little time.  Cavies, team contests, and local shows were barely mentioned, and breed judging is covered only briefly.  But when we consider how many facets this hobby has, it’s easy to see how Amy shot over 150 hours of footage for this film.  I was really impressed at how family-friendly the film is.  It’s (virtually) free of bad language and any political slant, and features some super cute animations.  My one minor complaint is that it implies that Joe Kim won convention BIS in 2005, when he actually won in 2003.

The Take-Away’s

If you are an ARBA royalty hopeful, then watch this film.  I strongly recommend it.  It portrays the contests very accurately and, since it allows you to see into the lives of other participants, helps put the whole thing in perspective.   Two-time ARBA King Jeremy Collins nails it when he says in the film that the top contestants are all smart kids, and they’ve all done their studying, and so they have really similar scores when it comes down to the interview.  Any one of them “deserves” to win – it’s just a matter of who comes off well to the interview judges.  And even after the interview, the scores between the Queen and 4th Runner-Up are very, very close… in 2008 it was 30 points out of 1000, to be exact.  So if you don’t win, it doesn’t mean that you weren’t good, and it doesn’t mean that you wasted your time. Not at all.

Like the movie says, even when you win, the fame and glory fades really fast: Long-time rabbit breeders see generation after generation of youth go by.  It’s terribly clichéd, but I’ll say it again: the real prize these contests hold out to us is not a tiara, but the person you become while trying to achieve it.  4-H and ARBA Royalty contests really do build confident and capable youth members that will continue to succeed long after they turn 19.

Thanks for this movie, Amy Do.  Nice Job.

And psst, Royalty contestants —  listen closely to Paula Courtney in the film talking about what the judges are looking for in the Royalty interview.  She is dead-on, and shares the most important interview tip I know.

How to Identify the Color of your Junior Bunnies

September 20, 2013

This post about rabbit color genetics can help you identify the color of the young rabbits in the litters you raise.

Identifying the Junior Oddball

Did you have an “oddball” in your last litter of bunnies?  I call rabbits “oddballs” when they turn out to be a color you didn’t expect and can’t identify.  Our book, “About Bunny Colors” has a whole section about how to identify the junior oddballs — and here’s a quick checklist to point you in the right direction.
odd colored rabbit

“What Color is my Bunny?”  Checklist

[ ] Check the ears—the fur here is short and dense and very useful for telling the color. Agoutis have ear lacing on the outer rim of the ear which is one of the best places to determine the basic (black, blue, chocolate, lilac) color. Agouti and tan pattern markings are easy to spot on the insides of the ears.

[ ] Check the eyes—black based colors usually have dark brown eyes. Chocolates often have lighter brown eyes. Dilute colors have blue-gray eyes. Sable and chocolate colors often show a ruby glow to the eye in correct light. If your rabbit has red eyes, it is a REW or a pointed white. Also, all agoutis and tan pattern colors show light eye circles.

[ ] Check the muzzle—again, dense short fur and a good place to tell basic color. Nostrils show agouti or tan pattern markings.

[ ] Check the triangle—on agoutis and tan patterns, the triangle of color at the back of the neck tells you a lot. First off, if it’s not there at all, the rabbit is a self pattern. If it is orange or fawn, the rabbit has the gene C_. If it’s silver/white, the rabbit is cchd or cchl.

[ ] Check the underside of the tail—Sure place to tell a tan pattern Himie (marten)—if tail is not all colored.

[ ] Blow into the fur—Normal agoutis show ring color, that is, bands of color on each hair shaft that form rings when you blow into the fur. The middle band of the agouti coat is a light color: orange or fawn on C_ based colors, and silver-white on chinchilla or sablebased agoutis.

[ ] Look at the ticking or tipping —  On agoutis, dark ticking is a good way to tell basic color. If tipping is light, your rabbit is a steel or a silver.

[ ] Is your rabbit shaded looking: darkest on the points and over the saddle and lighter on the sides and chest? Does the rabbit show sepia or smoke tint? Suspect the sable gene. Shows even in agoutis.

[ ] Would you describe your rabbit as brindled or having oddly placed dark spots or harlequin markings? Suspect the ej gene.

Click the image below to download the checklist!

rabbit color genetics checklist

Download this checklist to help you identify the colors of your bunnies