Hand Spun

Hand Spun
Campfire Hat

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Angora bunny shear

Well today I've been ill. So I've made birdie mash, I've napped, I've had my weight in fluid intake and I still feel blah. So I've decided to blog about shearing a bunny. I have pictures too! Licorice was shorn very recently and she received two tiny cuts from me in the process. I HATE it when I cut her skin. But I keep triple antibiotic ointment handy with lidicaine to ease the sting for her and she's always so relieved when it's over. She's now naked and will be under a small heat light for a few days while it's still chilly here. Here she is a few days before her shear outside in the bunny play pen eating grass.
Here she is next on the "shearing table" which is actually an unused bird playstand with the  "U" portion removed. It's on wheels so she can move around on it but I can position the stand to position her where I need her for shearing purposes.
Looking grumpy because she knows what's coming.
I usually start in the center of her back along her spine. I grab the fur in "locks" and cut at the base using the tiny shears you see next to her in the picture above this text. I don't cut the fur on the bottom of her feet or at the top of her ears. She needs the foot fur to cushion her feet and the ear fur just looks cute. :) Here she is after we get started.

I trim  in a circular motion all the way around her back and sides. This is the best fur for spinning and it has the longest staple length usually. Not because she grows it better here but because I'm better at shearing it here. This is only her 3rd shear since she was born. I didn't use her first shear fur because it was so downy but her 2nd shear and this most recent shear are wonderful for spinning angora single strand yarn to ply with another strand of wool or alpaca.
Almost done...
Finally she can relax!

Finally she's all done and kicking back on the shearing table. My husband helped hold her for me while I did her belly and legs. Licorice is not the most patient rabbit and she's a wiggle worm. But she was so happy to have all her fur off that she just relaxed in relief when it was all over. She got nicked twice (my fault entirely!) and she has antibiotic ointment on the cuts. I'll check them for the next couple of days but they heal really fast.
Here she is after being shorn. View number 2. :)
Looks like a kindergartner who went after her own hair with scissors doesn't she? I would LOVE to have clippers but the best kind to use on angora rabbits cost around $500.00 and that's just not in my budget. I have 3 angoras right now so hand shearing with scissors isn't too bad if I go slowly and carefully and the rabbits are patient. But any more than that and I'd be hard pressed to continue doing it with scissors. Carol, the angora breeder I get my rabbits from (Rabbit Tree Angoras in Boise, ID) shears all her angoras with scissors. Lemme just say... that takes more patience than I'll ever have. And she's much better at it. I lost a lot of good fur on Licorice's most recent shear to 2nd cuts and by the plain fact that I'm a newbie at it. I hope that over time I'll be able to harvest and save more of the fur by developing better shearing techniques. Anyway, there you have it. I have a newly naked and much relieved angora bunny out in the big hutch now and two babies busily growing out their own fur so that in a few months they get to go through this too. :)
Last but not least, here is the result of our combined hard work. Soon this will be spun into an angora single for use in yarn and a knitting project.
Phew! That's 3 1/2 months of angora fur growth and about 1 1/2 hours of shearing time. But it's well worth it!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Lovely two days!

Today and yesterday were so lovely I just had to blog about them. The weather was warm and dry and sunny! On both days I got home from work and took the baby angora rabbits outside to play. I have a "bunny playpen" to put them in and let them bounce around and forage. They had so much fun!!
The boys all bounced on each other until they got so tired and worn out that they just HAD to nap. Little Butterscotch just napped the whole time. She basked in the sun until she got too warm and then went to lie in the shade. Isn't she cute? :)
Our trees are starting to blossom out. Here is my plum tree.
Isn't it great?
So today I got home, put the bunnies in their playpen, got my Amazon and her cage onto the deck outside by me and then brought out Rowenna to spin on for a while. I spent a good hour and a half spinning some lovely merino top called "Mojave" from "The Fiber Addict" in Donnely, ID.  I LOVE her fiber and I'm having so much fun spinning it up.
Tomorrow is Sabbath so we're going to church, taking naps and letting animals play if we can. The weather is supposed to be kinda cruddy so we'll have to see what we get.
Here is Daisy playing with some wood from her chew toy. She always has to have TWO pieces of something in her mouth at the same time. One just doesn't cut it in Daisy's book. :)

The last two days are the first time she's been outdoors to play in her cage. Once the mosquitoes come out we can't do it anymore. We have West Nile Virus here and it will kill birds. I couldn't bear that so better safe than sorry. For now, however, Daisy can safely play outside. Yesterday I think she said "Hi!" to every bee, fly, gnat and wild bird that flew by her and caught her eye. It was like watching a little kid discover something amazing for the first time. Today she was more content to just sit by me while I spun and ask me for kisses occasionally and play with her wooden toys. I love my animals!  What great weather. It's gone for a while. We'll be back to below 60 deg. F. by tomorrow and thru all next week according to the weather channel but I'm not sorry one bit for the sunshine we just had. We all soaked it up and it fortified us for sunless days ahead. :)