Monday, May 8, 2017

So Much Depends on a Red Rabbit





A Red Wheelbarrow
By
William Carlos Williams

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions. Should we go home via Interstate 80 and Truckee or take the long way home via California 395 and Bishop? Interstate 80 would save time, but California 395 goes through Bishop with stops at Mahogany Meats and Schat’s Bakkery. The choice: extra time at home after a long rabbit show weekend or peppered bison and elk jerky and Sheepherder's bread and chocolate-covered macaroons?


I enjoy going to rabbit shows, and the West Coast Classic is my favorite. I am amazed at how the cavernous Reno Convention Center can be transformed into a bustling mini-city filled with rabbit fanatics of all shapes and sizes. I would like to thank the volunteers and show management for their time and effort.  This rabbit show is a microcosm of democracy and capitalism at its best.


One thing I missed this year was the lady who operated a photography booth. Last year, she took pictures of patrons’ rabbits against a green screen, then digitally inserted the West Coast Classic backdrop. I still enjoy the picture we purchased from her; it just seemed to say, “We did it! We did something right.”


And we did something right again on Saturday. Wow!  First, second, third in junior bucks. Unfortunately, on Sunday, the judge dispatched our rabbits quickly from the judge’s table. Well, at least MH51 hung around for a second place in junior bucks. My star, 2703, placed next to last. Back a few months ago, I thought MH51 was a candidate for the stew pot. So much for my picking winning rabbits. Second year in a row where I have kept a stew pot candidate around long enough for it to fulfill its God given talent. My lesson learned is not to judge young rabbits too harshly; they often just need more time to develop.


We did not win best of variety this weekend, which is our usual goal. That award is our validation that we are doing something right in our breeding plan for reds. It may sound odd to some, but we enjoy winning best of variety more than best of breed. Why? Because we get to leave early and explore other activities on the road trip home. We had fun at the Reno show, but now as a family, we could load up before noon and explore the big wide world beyond our small town of 1,000. First stop, In-N-Out Burger. “A Number 2 without tomatoes please. Can I substitute a strawberry shake for the drink?” I ordered with a small tear in my eye. It made me realize the picture was incomplete; my son was not here. Through three years of monthly three hour drives to UCLA for chemo, my son’s favorite stop was always In-N-Out Burger in Santa Clarita. Now he is 3,000 miles away at college. Next stop, Bishop.


Bishop has been my Emerald City ever since my  big brother Bob used to take me backpacking at Lake Sabrina. Every trip to Ansel Adam's "Range of Light" would begin by stocking up on Mahogany Meat's jerky and end with a trip to Schat’s for macaroons and some sheepherder’s bread to take home to Mom.


The rabbits provide the impetus to get into the car and go for a family adventure. I’m lucky. My wife, two daughter’s, and my oldest daughter’s boyfriend made this weekend a family adventure; Oscar even won $90 playing poker at 3 in the morning.


The poet William Carlos Williams writes that “so much depends/upon/a red wheel/barrow.” I guess in the case of the Hacketts, “so much depends/ upon/a red rabbit.”

Next road trip: the Central Valley Rabbit Breeders Association’s October show in Hanford. Homemade ice cream at Superior Dairy anyone?

The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New Additions to www.newzealandreds.com




Today I have posted some updates to our rabbitry’s website that should help prospective customers learn more about our rabbits and make more informed decisions about which rabbits to purchase.


In addition to the pictures on the “For Sale” and “Breeding Barn” pages, we now post our show results on the “Calendar” page. Why would we do this? Now customers can visually analyze the parents of available litters and then check out the kits’ parents on the “Breeding Barn” page. If prospective customers like the parents, they can then check their show record by going to the “Calendar” page. For example, if someone were interested in a kit from Bradford (MH21) and Emily (MH10), they could click on show results from the ARBA National and see that Bradford placed third in red senior bucks and Emily placed second in broken senior does. Knowing  how rabbits have been judged in actual ARBA show can help prospective customers make more informed choices.


Also new this month is also our “Rabbit Line Breeding Chart.” I have tried to find line breeding charts to track the different generations, but I have never really found what I was looking for. I finally decided that I could make a chart using a Microsoft Word table and draw tools. The result is a pdf visitors can download and then write in names and ear numbers as they track a given line’s different generations. The “Rabbit Line Breeding Chart” can be found on our “Links” page.


Another new feature this month will be our www.newzealandreds.com magnetic feeder business cards. I recently moved rabbits around into different cages in an attempt to create some new logical system to rabbit placement. Upon entering the rabbitry on another day, I realized I had forgotten the new logic behind our new system.  The rabbits were all red; they all looked alike; and worst of all, the parents’ identity  of those few that I had not yet tattooed seemed to have escaped my recent memory. I remembered those magnetic info cards that I saw on sale at last year’s West Coast Classic, and decided I would ask my architect daughter to design magnetic feeder info cards that I could pass out as promotions when we return to Reno. The templates are posted on our “Links” page: we have one template for does and a different version for bucks.

I hope some of the new additions to our website  are of use to someone out there in Internet land. We are always trying to come up with some new “system” to help us improve our rabbit breeding efforts.

Send us comments below and share some of your rabbit breeding ideas.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mr. Rooster and His New Flock of "Hens"








For twenty years we have raised chickens so that we could have “farm fresh” eggs for breakfast. A few months back my wife received a text from Veronica asking if my wife would like a Faverolles rooster. This rooster had been hand raised and was “very friendly.” He needed a new home where he could crow and not wake up the neighbors. We did not want fertilized eggs, so we let him live with the sheep, who lived next to the hens.

Unfortunately, somehow raccoons, skunks, or coyotes figured out how to get into the chicken coop and only one hen and Mr. Rooster survived. One night my daughter came home late and did not put the chickens away. The next morning on my way out the driveway, I saw a pile of feathers. I thought that was it: Mr. Rooster had joined his hens in the great coop above. But upon returning home that night, Mr. Rooster greeted my pickup at the top of the driveway and patiently waited for me to open my door.


Without his beloved hens, I was his new best buddy. I never knew roosters could be so smart, although I was once defeated by a chicken in tic-tac-toe. Now he waits at the top of the driveway for my truck to come home. He then follows me to the front door of the house and waits for me to come back out and feed him some scratch. Since his hens were gone, he had no reason to go back down the hill and roost with the sheep. Instead, he found some new four-legged chickens with long ears, who liked to hop around in their cages. Mr. Rooster seemed to enjoy these new hybrid rabbit-chickens and even adopted their garage as his new home. So now www.newzealandreds.com has a new mascot: Mr. Rooster. He has adopted our herd of New Zealands as his new family. He proudly flies to the top of their stacking cages to survey his dominion, and to my surprise, the rabbits do not seem to mind: no going crazy running in circles, no piggy squeals, no thumping of cage floors.


I have to admit, I don’t enjoy his nightly deposits on the garage floor, but how can I break his heart?


Yesterday, Mr. Rooster once again almost joined his beloved hens in the sky. Squawking and all sorts of strange sounds broke out on our front porch and my daughter started screaming for me to come and help. Anna, our Anatolian Pyrenees, had Mr. Rooster in her mouth. Upon being scolded, Anna  released Mr. Rooster, who now lay wet and motionless in my daughter’s arms.

Mr. Rooster recovered; flapped his wings; walked into the garage; flew to his roost; and crowed. He was content and he had a new story to share with his long-eared hens. I closed the garage door and turned out the light. Mr. Rooster was on duty and watching over his new flock; he would have something new to crow about in the morning.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Road Trip!

Old School Oorang Airedales (from Internet)

I sold some rabbits today, a breeding pair to be specific: a nice little nine-week-old broken buck with a heavy red pattern and a nice twelve-week-old red doe. The gentleman had called before to make an appointment.  I erroneously thought this was the man and son who asked for my business card at the January KRBA show. Instead, a man and his wife drove up the driveway to buy some New Zealand reds and talk rabbits for a few minutes on a Sunday afternoon.


It is people like this couple that remind me why I breed rabbits. Yes, I enjoy producing home grown meat; I even enjoy sitting back and watching my rabbits kick up their heels in the exercise pen. But the rabbits also serve as a way to meet new people and share ideas about a hobby that we enjoy.


Ramon was full of knowledge about breeding rabbits and I learned much from him. He had also purchased his foundation stock from Manuel Hidalgo. I listened as he told me about his adventures in breeding Manuel’s whites with a broken red and getting babies with all sorts of colors. One topic led to another rabbit related topic: from stacking cages to gardening with rabbit pellet compost. Like Manuel, he suggested I breed year around through the Valley heat and utilize a forty-one day breed back calendar. But the story I enjoyed most was about how he uses the red worms from his garden to go fishing. The joy in his voice was evident when he talked about taking his worms to Texas, so he could go fishing with his grandchildren.


People often ask me if I ship my rabbits via airlines. Yes, I do. But to me, the joy in purchasing a new rabbit is the road trip itself. I want to hit the road; try new restaurants; see new country; meet new people. Ramon agreed. It is not a chore, but fun to hop into the car and drive to Northern California or Oregon and visit with some breeders and have a chance to share ideas about our hobby. I used to make it a family adventure to take my Mammoth Donkey to Las Vegas so she could visit her boyfriend. After we dropped her off at the West Farm Mule Ranch, the Vegas buffets and shopping awaited. I guess I owe this love of animal road trips to my dad, who once drove the family in a Dodge Chinook Plus from California to Sparta, Tennessee so we could bring home an eight week old Oorang Airedale puppy from the legendary Mooreland Kennels .  That puppy grew into the king of the neighborhood: the bear like dog who battled the brown UPS truck on a daily basis.

At work, I often hide in my classroom so I do not have to debate the virtues of the latest reinvention in education. On TV, the nation is at war: Trump vs. anti-Trump. But when I talk rabbits with people, we are just people who share the enjoyment of breeding these funny, long eared  critters. I anxiously await the next Hackett family road trip to Reno for the West Coast Classic. My students always ask, what do I do at these rabbit shows. I say it is simple: I talk rabbits.

Monday, January 30, 2017

New Website Host, New Show Year



Kern County Rabbit Breeders Association




After more than a month, www.newzealandreds.com is back up and running. A computer crash and loss of software and files necessitated a migration from the CS5 generated website to a cloud based website at our new host: weebly.com. The process was a bumpy road and still is not complete, but thankfully, the website is now functioning.


We hope to reconnect with previous customers and hopefully meet many more in 2017.


Participation in this year’s rabbit shows has confirmed that reds are increasing in popularity and improving in quality. My family and I made the southward trek to San Diego and the ARBA National Convention for the first time. I was amazed at all the New Zealand reds. Our little rabbitry did OK for our first time: we had a buck place third in senior bucks, and we had three broken reds that were the highest placed broken reds at the show. I must admit, we did not like the caging arrangements: we have never housed our rabbits in shavings and found this method messy.


This last weekend was a first for our family’s rabbitry: we not only won our first Best of Breed, but we accomplished this twice in shows B and C. I guess we are making progress in trying to help reds be competitive against whites, blacks, and now blues. For the first time our reds beat  the other varieties of New Zealands. We have been competitive against other reds, but rarely get placed ahead of the other varieties. But wow: one senior red buck won Best of Breed in show B and in show C our brokens won Best of Breed and Best Opposite. I don’t think we will repeat these results often, but it was a nice way for the family to spend a Saturday together. I know my son was disappointed at having to stay for more judging, but my youngest continued her winning streak in the raffle and won a nice Mini Rex for her older sister.


Next stop on our show calendar is the West Coast Classic in Reno; we loved this show last year: well organized, lots of interesting vendors, and everyone was very friendly. For 2017, we will begin showing a whole new string of juniors, who are just about ready to escape to their own cages. We have retired last year’s show bunch to the breeding barn.

It you are interested in purchasing a New Zealand red or broken from us, check out our for sale pages. We will have many new additions coming soon.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bucket Lists and the Fibber Cup









ARBA National Convention, San Diego






Bucket Lists and the Fibber Cup


Before leaving for San Diego and the ARBA Convention, I asked my senior English students to make slideshows for their bucket list projects. They were asked to come up with about ten items they would like to experience, see, or achieve before they died. The intent was to help them think about their futures and what they would enjoy doing in their adult lives. I made an example slideshow and demonstrated to them what my expectations were for their projects. I had one slide showing my desire to witness the Aurora Borealis. I also made a slide that examined my desire to win a class in New Zealand reds at the ARBA Convention.


Upon returning to the classroom, I informed my students that I would not be able to cross off an item from my bucket list. My daughter and I had earned a second, a third, a fourth, and a fifth, but no firsts. A first would have to wait until the ARBA convention comes west once again. But we were happy: all of our winners had come from just two litters. Our success was proof that we could keep our rabbitry small (8-10 litters per year) and still compete at the national level. With our San Joaquin Valley summer heat, raising rabbits is confined to the air-conditioned garage, with limited space; however, this year we are jumping from three to six does and we will use five bucks.


Now that we are back home, it is time to start breeding again for the 2017 season. We hope to show at the Kern County Rabbit Breeders Association show and the West Coast Classic in Reno. Our first litters should be ready for new homes around Christmas time. Hopefully, we will have some juniors that will be competitive in Reno. We were lucky to start our breeding program with quality foundation stock from Manuel Hidalgo. We quickly learned that reds were well-known with ARBA judges for having weak shoulders, so that became our priority. A heavily patterned red broken buck from Manuel has solved our shoulder problems. We are now producing reds with good body length, big butts, and full shoulders.We have also received comments on our reds’ good color. Another goal for this breeding season is to try and select brokens for breeding stock that are as calm as our reds. For some reason our broken reds like to run in circles and squeal like pigs. Does anyone else have this problem?


On a personal note, it was fun to meet Wendall Tisher. I had read articles about his famous New Zealand reds and how he travels to rabbit shows throughout the Midwest. It was nice to talk to someone else about breeding reds. I also learned it is a small world and that Mr. Tisher was also from the world of education.

Lastly, My family would like to thank everyone involved in putting on the ARBA Convention. It was smooth running and a fun experience. We didn’t know about the RabbitCon until after we had made reservations, but next time, RabbitCon will be the goal.

Once again, we cannot update our website due to lost files on a computer that crashed. We will rebuild www.newzealandreds.com over Christmas vacation.

































Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Website www.newzealandreds.com will reopen after Christmas








My laptop computer has crashed and rather than purchasing new website publishing software like CS5, we have decided to rebuild www.newzealandreds.com with a cloud based website design company like Weebly.

The current website will remain visible until the redesign is complete. Tentative new start date is during our Christmas vacation.

Unfortunately, our rabbit customers will not be able to see any new additions or posts until the redesign is complete.

We are sorry that we were unable to meet this year's demand for breeding trios. We held back our best bucks for ARBA national and will have 4-6 very nice bucks for sale after the October convention.

We were not blessed with many does this breeding season, and  we will start breeding our rabbits again when we return home from San Diego. Some babies should be ready by Christmas. We are going to increase the number of does we breed to 6. Hopefully, we will be able to better meet the needs of our customers during the 2016-17 breeding season.

Thank you everyone who expressed an interest in purchasing rabbits from www.newzealandreds.com