In February I attended the Board meeting at PaSRBA Convention. I helped clean up at close of Convention and had a great time!
My sister Ashley and me after we were all finished cleaning up!
On February 23rd, I helped to lead a pet care night at Dauphin County Fur N Feather Club for our monthly meeting. Our club has a number of new, young members. We presented on seeing eye program, reptiles & snakes, and rabbit pet projects the youth can present at our fair this coming summer.
February 28th had me preparing a pulled sweet and sour rabbit meat for the Lebanon Valley Extension Office for their annual meeting that they hold. I wasn’t invited to participate as queen, but was asked to prepare the meat which was from my rabbits and my mom and I made the dish. I must admit that we kept just a bit to taste and it was really good!
I attended the York Rabbit Show on March 5. It is a great show. You can only show as open as they don’t hold a youth show, but I really enjoy this one.
Currently, I am working really hard to raise litters for Indy ARBA Convention. I bred to have a litter of English Angora rabbits that didn’t go as planned. The doe kindled 7. Unfortunately, she ate three of them and let the others lay on the wire. We were able to revive one of them, but you know that doesn’t always go well because there usually isn’t enough milk to sustain one rabbit. Lucky for me, Donna McGraw, a fellow Angora breeder contacted us and asked if I could help her by raising a litter of 5 kits that she had from a doe that was dying. They were the same age as my single kit. She came to our house that day with the tiny little kits. All of them were a bit dehydrated. I immediately took them to my doe and nursed them. Success, they all had full bellies. I housed them separately from the doe and kept them under a warming lamp. As for the doe, I prepared a portable pen for her that I also brought into the house. I continued to nurse them all twice a day for several days; however, a week into the process, the doe began to develop mastitis. I didn’t want to lose this litter. So, I contacted my vet who told me to give her Penicillin as well as Flunixin. I continued to do this for several days and she continued to eat, drink, and produce milk for the little ones. I also supplemented her feed with Kale, fresh hay, and, of course, fresh water. Things started to take a turn for the worse, though, in the second week. The doe began to grow large lumps on her abdomen. They turned black and after a few days, one of them pushed through her skin near a teat. I had no idea what it was. I wasn’t able to contact my vet because she was out of the country. So, I tried to contact Dr. Jay Hreiz. Unfortunately, he wasn’t in the office either. So, I contacted Mr. Eric Stewart to see if he had any suggestions. He asked me to send pictures which I did. This lump was large and very painful looking, but the doe continued to eat, drink, and run around.
We then realized that the lump wasn’t even attached to her by much anymore. We sterilized a knife and cut it off. She didn’t even bleed and the skin underneath was pink and healing. We packaged up the tissue and ran it to the lab to see if they could tell us what it was and we’re still waiting on the results. I continue to feed the babies that are now nibbling on pellets, hay, and drinking from a water bottle a bit. I am also caring for the doe and glad to report that she is also doing fairly well, eating, drinking, and enjoying her time that I allow her to run around for a while twice a day.
Look closely, one of the little kits decided to hop onto my shoulder. Clearly, they’re feeling really good!
All six of the little nuggets this morning. They’re very busy and it’s really hard to get a picture of them all, but aren’t they adorable? Not sure if you can see it, but there are 3 of the lumps I was talking about on the doe in this picture. They are now gone and healing over.
In the beginning of March, I attended the York rabbit show which was a lot of fun. Later in March, I travelled to Westmoreland and taught several classes for their rabbit school. I taught one class on Angora rabbits, Jacob Bell and I ran two classes on judging, I helped Isaac and Caleb teach a class on Breed I.D. and then I helped Jacob with a class on showmanship. We had a lot of fun, the classes were full, and I was happy to do it.
On March 28th, I, along with Jacob Bell and another individual from the Dauphin Co 4-H Fur n Feather group, went to a 4-H meeting for the York Rabbit Club held at their Extension Office. I worked with the kids to teach them about what is expected at PA 4-H State Days for Rabbit Bowl. We held a small rabbit bowl with the buzzers that we borrowed from our extension office and we also set up stations with breed id and judging.
Early in April, we hosted a guild at our mill. I spent the day sharing fiber stories and my rabbits with the groups. Later on, I attended the Governor's Mansion Easter Egg Hunt Event. We had perfect weather and there were a lot of kids who came to participate. The following week, I attended a show in Michigan which hosted the National Angora Show. My rabbits did very well earning 2 Best in Shows and 2 Reserve In Shows all in one day. I also was awarded a special award for my boots and yarn that I made.
On April 24th, I led a program on community service for the PA Homeschoolers Conference. I chose to present a story about my rabbit project that is up on the website. My essay was also published in the Pa Homeschoolers Newsletter this Spring and is printed at the end of this blog post.
On April 30th, we hosted a field trip from Steelton Elementary School. I shared my rabbits with the kids and they seemed to have a good time.
Be a Difference Maker by Madison Shaw
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi. Community service. What is it? Who has time for it? We’re all busy and have too much to do and not enough time to do it, but, if you find time to give of yourself, you might just be surprised that you’ll receive more than you give. I found that to be true many times when I participate in group events through my county 4-H program. Since many of the groups I belong in have small and large animals, we’re often asked to bring them to nursing homes, vacation bible schools, summer camps, and many other events.
Perhaps one of my favorite events, and most near to my heart, would have to involve taking my baby goats and rabbits to one of the nursing homes in our county. We have been going every year at Christmas for more than eight years now. Sometimes we sing Christmas carols while others go around with their animals so that we can talk to the residents while they enjoy holding and petting our animals. Other times we’ve also participated in a live nativity with my family’s menagerie of animals. Occasionally, we are also asked to bring the animals to the one section of the home where many of the residents are suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia. This Christmas, I was asked to do that along with a few of my rabbits and a chicken.
When we arrived in the room, we were greeted by visiting family members who were very welcoming. At first, many of the residents were just sitting and not saying anything. We began to sing while I carried my one American Fuzzy Lops named Mittens around the room. In an instant, a gentleman’s eyes lit up. As he held Mittens, he began to talk with his wife. He began to tease his wife that Mittens liked him better than he liked her. I stayed with them for a while longer and as we were leaving the room, the wife thanked me because, she said, “I got to see my husband again tonight.”
You see, she had been visiting him for quite some time and seeing him slip away from the effects of his disease. That night, he visited with her too. Who knew that a little 4-pound bunny with lots of wool could be better than any medicine that modern day could offer him? While I’m sure that she left the facility that night feeling happy, I left feeling happy too. I can’t even begin to put into words how proud I was to be a part of something so much larger than me. Mittens and I, along with my other critters, continue to visit many places, but I know that night will stay with me forever.