Meet Nibs, a chocolate English Angora doe

This is Nibs now in 2021. She is an English Angora rabbit doe and she is as happy relaxing inside as she is outside on the grass lawn in her new home in Wales. In the first image she has been clipped whilst in the relaxed pose her wool length is starting to grow back. She is a pet rabbit and her clipped wool is used in as part of my wool products.

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Nibs’ first day with us

As all in our household continued to go out to work, we were far from bored during the lockdown of 2020, but we certainly thought more about our hopes and dreams for the future. It started as ‘moving to West Wales and taking on a smallholding’, including a pair of donkeys requested by our son, but reality and finances gradually reshaped the plan to what we could do here and now, in a suburban terraced house in Cardiff. Something that could begin to replace a wage with more satisfying income.

Grow mushrooms, tomatoes, salad leaves, and currently, winter onions and garlic. Done.

A few chickens in the garden. Maybe in a few years.

No room for sheep, but perhaps Angora Rabbits…

Our mental health was greatly improved through researching and learning about the commitment and rewards it would involve. Seeing the treatment of Angoras in China was very upsetting, so we would do this right or not at all. Though showing a rabbit seemed beyond us as novices, the chance to use natural fibre for crafting really appealed.

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I was thrilled to get the Wow factor in the virtual Products show and this actually confirms the reaction of people whenever I wear the poncho outside.  I’m asked “where did you get it” and when told I made it and the history of the making I’m asked “can you make me one?” Well this item was really a labour of love – and one I thoroughly enjoyed. If I hadn’t made this I don’t think I would ever have got into spinning Angora. It goes back to 1983 when I discovered and fell in love with the wonderful Angora rabbit, bought my first Angora and spinning wheel and started to teach myself to spin. The only fibre I had was Angora and over  time, about 5 years, I managed a sort of yarn. There was no internet then and I lived too far away from Angora members – except Ray  Whitcombe who I met up with at local rabbit shows. I collected all the 2ply  practice yarn which was not good spinning lumpy, too thick, too thin, over and under spun .

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A judges lot is not a happy one, it doesn’t matter what decision a judge makes someone will disagree with it. Usually very vocally! I received some very sage advice on the eve of my first judging engagement, when expressing nervousness to a long-time judge – “you don’t have to worry about the one that wins, its the one that comes second is dangerous”

A judge comes in for a lot of stick, but on the day he or she’s decision is final – no matter how much you the exhibitor may disagree with it! Having stood on both sides of the table, I can see the situation from both sides, but have learnt one indisputable fact – you cannot judge a rabbit properly unless you handle it.  This I would imagine is true of all breeds, but to an even greater degree with regard to the angora. Because there are so many different points to consider, not only on the rabbit itself, but the presentation and grooming carried out by the owner!

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Large litters are hard to avoid, and this Doe produced 9 baby angoras in a wide range of colours. One of the issues though is the size of each of the babies as they develop as the Doe cannot always provide sufficient nutrients in the first few weeks to help each one develop well. Therefore you can end up with a lot of under sized Angora rabbit babies. Sadly she lost one of the litter so now has eight but this has allowed the remaining ones to gain access to more food. If your Doe does produce a large litter it is vital that you provide additional supplements for her so she has sufficient resources and food to help feed the young. It is also important to make sure that the hutch space avoidable is sufficient to house a growing litter of so many babies so they have space to move about and not all sit together even though they for the most part all choose to sit on one another.

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I have to admit my passion for angoras came from a desire to spin and knit my own fibre.  Having a German husband and being drawn to the extra yield/size of the German Angora compared to the English Angora lead me on a quest to acquire some of these more rare and majestic bunnies.

My poor long suffering husband (who often threatens to use my wool stash as wall insulating when I’m not looking!) was sent off across the channel to pick up my beautiful German angoras from the very Easten side of Germany. I was beyond excited when they finally arrived home. Two REWS (Hagrid and Fleur) and three blues (Hermione, Remus and Bella) settled in really well and with a lot of support from Sally May I slowly got to grips with looking after my wonderful buns.

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It is good to be able to put your Angora rabbits outside in good weather to enjoy some fresh grass and fresh air if you have the space to do this. It is also a chance to observe them while they relax and check them over to ensure they are all healthy and look at the contrasting colour if you have a litter with a range of colours like this one from Blues to Lilacs to Smokes.

However a few notes for you before you put them outside.

  • Make sure you have a secure run or cage to put them in set up in advance
  • check the grass area over before to remove any plants that might be harmful or debris
  • If you know they dig make sure the run or cage has a wire base as well
  • If you are putting babies out make sure the wire cage has small enough wire that they cannot slip through it and get outside the cage
  • Ideal to watch them during their first time out to see how they react and to ensure they are safe
  • Ideally also check on them if you do leave them for any period of time whilst they are outside to check they are alright
  • Provide a shade or cover if the location is in full sun
  • Provide a water bowl or bottle if leaving them out for longer than 10 minutes
  • Make sure the cage is protected from being accessible by cats and other birds and animals as they can scare the rabbits

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Best in Show – Jo Ford with Smoke Adult Buck

Here is the judges feedback and results for the Pets Virtual Show. 1st J Ford, smoke. Best in pet and spinning class. Nice head, colour, body and wool. 2nd, J Ford, Lilac. Another nice exhibit. Good head and body. Nice colour. 3rd C Hamilton. White. Also a nice rabbit with short body and nice wool. Many thanks to Chris for asking me to judge. I really enjoyed it. Thank you to everyone for entries and congratulations to the winners.

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Winner of the product competition by Sally May

Congratulations to everyone who entered, and the overall winner was Sally May with the most votes for her felted Angora bunny. However, as we had so many fabulous entries we decided to make a few other awards.

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