Amanda Parker

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since May 01, 2018
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I am a woman who has dreamed of living a self sufficient lifestyle since I was a child. I now have an amazing husband who supports me, and we have a beautiful 11 acre property in the blue ridge mountains. We raise east friesan sheep, french and English Angora rabbits,russian bees, 3 heritage breeds of chickens (Wyandotte, Pendesenca, and speckled Sussex,) and blue slate turkeys. We also grow mushrooms, herbs, dye plants, fruits and veggies. I am the kind of person who would rather make something than buy it, like my spinning wheel and wool Combs! I love woodworking, wood turning, spinning, knitting/crochet/weaving, and pretty much anything that allows me to use my head and hands to create practical items. I love working with animals and gardening, and my Angoras are the heart of my farm.
Nelson, VA
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Recent posts by Amanda Parker

Alexis Richard wrote:

Amanda Parker wrote:

Alexis Richard wrote:Not that I'm an expert by any stretch of the imagination... but I did breed rabbits for about 6 years. So I feel like my opinion probably has at least a little logic behind it rofl.

I would go with Chocolate Pearl like those breeders said simply because she has too many decidedly brown hairs in there for me to consider her a lilac. And to me, she really is a little dark to be a pure lilac. Grey Pearl wouldn't fit because of the brown. I'd almost want to say she's ticked. But it's so subtle I'm honestly not sure I'd go that far.

Whatever she is, she is absolutely beautiful, and I think breeding for more with her coat would be very successful. Now you've really got me wanting to start on Angoras darn it.... But only if I can have this doe to start my herd lol.

If she lightens a little bit more I'd probably call her a Chocolate Pearl Ticked if she were mine.




Well if you're really interested.....lol I have no plans to sell her but I do have a chocolate agouti who carries chd that I plan on breeding her with so if she's a chocolate pearl I should get a few more out of the crossing. I am really leaning toward chocolate pearl too, she looks almost blue in some light, but in sunlight you can really see the brown in her coat, it's almost a taupe. I want to say she's ticked too....which almost makes me think of steel, but she doesn't have any Es in her pedigree that I can find. I did some searching and I also found something called a "snowball", which is when the undercoat of their first coat is white or super pale below a ring of color. It happens most often in self rabbits, but can happen in almost any color. Her new coat has just started down at the skin so I'm waiting to see what her Jr coat looks like before I make a final decision, but I feel most people have been leaning toward chocolate pearl. Thank you so much for your response!



Oh no... where are you located? Because now I'm INTERESTED.
I see what you mean about the taupe. It's such a cool tone brown.... if I were painting her she would definitely be an umber brown, not a sienna! Most chocs I've seen are so reddish. I've rarely seen such a cool tone brown.
I honestly can't wait to see her full Jr coat! Please post another pic when she's got it all out!! <3

I will definitely post more pictures! I'm located in central Virginia, but I do travel to shows along the east coast from New York to Florida, and as far west as Ohio and Louisiana, depending on how well I'm doing that particular show season :). I do have some great lines and I've been developing my BEW and Vienna lines to improve type, wool density, and ear carriage. I actually have a BEW doe who reached GC status!!! She is my greatest success, lol. This is her granddaughter. If you really are interested, send me a message and we can share emails :)
2 months ago

Alexis Richard wrote:Not that I'm an expert by any stretch of the imagination... but I did breed rabbits for about 6 years. So I feel like my opinion probably has at least a little logic behind it rofl.

I would go with Chocolate Pearl like those breeders said simply because she has too many decidedly brown hairs in there for me to consider her a lilac. And to me, she really is a little dark to be a pure lilac. Grey Pearl wouldn't fit because of the brown. I'd almost want to say she's ticked. But it's so subtle I'm honestly not sure I'd go that far.

Whatever she is, she is absolutely beautiful, and I think breeding for more with her coat would be very successful. Now you've really got me wanting to start on Angoras darn it.... But only if I can have this doe to start my herd lol.

If she lightens a little bit more I'd probably call her a Chocolate Pearl Ticked if she were mine.




Well if you're really interested.....lol I have no plans to sell her but I do have a chocolate agouti who carries chd that I plan on breeding her with so if she's a chocolate pearl I should get a few more out of the crossing. I am really leaning toward chocolate pearl too, she looks almost blue in some light, but in sunlight you can really see the brown in her coat, it's almost a taupe. I want to say she's ticked too....which almost makes me think of steel, but she doesn't have any Es in her pedigree that I can find. I did some searching and I also found something called a "snowball", which is when the undercoat of their first coat is white or super pale below a ring of color. It happens most often in self rabbits, but can happen in almost any color. Her new coat has just started down at the skin so I'm waiting to see what her Jr coat looks like before I make a final decision, but I feel most people have been leaning toward chocolate pearl. Thank you so much for your response!
2 months ago

Juniper Zen wrote:I'm a newbie when it comes to rabbits, but I've always had good luck getting my color questions answered on the Rabbit Talk forums. They have a whole subforum dedicated to colors.

My understanding is that the white base means there must be chinchilla, and that color does like lilac. So my guess would be self lilac chinchilla, which is what you mean by chocolate pearl, I think? But again I'm new to this.

I will be watching this thread for answers!



Thanks for the answer! Pearl is a color caused by the c(chd) Gene, or sometimes the c(chl) Gene which causes sables, in combination with the non extension, or tort Gene, the recessive (ee). I do agree, I think she has a chinchilla gene in there, but I have also seen the almost white undercoat in other colors including lilac and lynx! This little doe has absolutely stumped me....
3 months ago
Okay guys, I am by no means a novice when it comes to rabbits....I've been breeding and showing since I was 8 years old, so 18 years. I am newish to Angoras, I've been Breeding and showing English and french Angoras for about two and a half years. But I had a baby bunny pop up in a litter of Vienna Marked bunnies, that I am just stumped by! And here is the real kicker, I've asked FOUR breeders, three of which have 20+years experience with Angoras, and they all gave me different answers!

So, this bunny, at 1 week of age looked like a chocolate with grey dust on it. Then, it changed....it's now grey. But it's not blue, it is way to "brownish" to be blue, and it's too dark to be a lilac.... There is no color banding on the hair shaft, from what I can tell, and no eye bands or pale belly to indicate an agouti or hidden agouti. However, the tips of the hair are the taupe grey color, but about a centimeter down, the hair turns pale grey/white, all the way to the skin. (In the pics you can see some dark grey right at skin level but that's actually her new coat growing in, not grey on the hair shaft. In natural sunlight she appears to have chocolate or PInk tipped ticking on her guard hairs...but it's not as obvious as in ermine's or steels....I'm just so freaking confused! She has blue gray eyes, but that could be from the Vienna Marking. She does have non-extension, chinchilla, and sable genes in her pedigree but most are several generations back. The breeders I asked, told me dark dark lilac or chocolate chinchilla, chocolate pearl or similar pearl color, lilac steel, or lynx with umbrous modifiers....which doesn't really help me!!! They all had different answers.

So if anyone thinks they know what the color of this adorable but very confusing little English Angora is....please let me know? I've also never seen a chocolate pearl in real life, so if you have a picture of one please post it! I'm really curious! Chocolate pearl is the only color that TWO of the other breeders suggested.
3 months ago
Hello guys!

I'm almost embarrassed to post this as I have been breeding rabbits for years, about 18 to be precise. But I bought a new English Angora doe, a blue eyed white girl with 10 inch wool that is so dense it makes me drool! On her "pedigree" it says that she is just over a year, should have been 8 months when I bought her, but I'm pretty convinced that's not true.... I believe she is older. She had a full senior coat when I bought her, and I should have noticed something was off then, but I didn't and I paid 220 dollars for her. And now.....she REFUSES to breed. I've tried so many things, changing diet, separating them so they can't smell each other, having them next to each other for a few days before the mating. I've held her for him, I always take her to him, I've installed a light to increase day length to simulate natural mating time....I'm at a freaking loss! I'm starting to feel like I bought a 220 dollar pooping dust mop!

So, does anyone have any suggestions? Any tips they have had success with? Maybe I'm just doing something wrong, but I've never had this much trouble with a doe. I think she may be around 2 years and never bred before, I think the damn "breeder" lied to me. I am so offended that someone who calls themselves a breeder would lie like this. Her pedigree looks off too, the colors don't add up. I mean, he father was supposed to be a plain blue buck, but she somehow magically inherited the Vienna Gene when his parents were self black and blue too?
4 months ago

J Grouwstra wrote:I'm from the area these sheep originate from, but here Friesian sheep have lost a lot of ground to mainly Texel sheep, which is a meat sheep.
My mother still used to milk Friesian sheep on her farm, but this is a long time ago.
I'm not sure there is a lot of difference between Friesian sheep and East Friesian sheep.

I know they have a reputation for being quite a social type of sheep, both towards humans as within their own group. What I once read is that a Friesian ewe will often allow a lamb that isn't hers to poach milk from her. Triplets or quadruplets are more common among Friesian sheep, so than this possibility of poaching sounds handy. Sorry, I have no personal experience, but I did once look into it. On a picture of my mother milking sheep it struck me that this happened in the open field, and the sheep appear to have no problem allowing to be milked.

If you have a more specific question about these sheep, I can always look if I can find a Friesian, Dutch or German source for the answer, assuming you yourself aren't used to these languages.

I have plenty of suggestions if you want to give your sheep Friesian names: Rixt, Elbrich, Wietske, Marrit, Sjieuwke, Loltsje... there are hundreds of Friesian names, it is an older language than German or Dutch, and often German and Dutch names borrow from Friesian.



That is amazing! I wish anyone in my family had been into agriculture. I'm the first and most of them think I'm wasting my time lol. I do know that my ancient ancestors spoke Friesian. They moved to the Rhineland area of Germany around the 1500s but before that they seemed to be nomadic but lived on the northern border of Germany, if I remember correctly. The oldest ancestor I have been able to trace back was named Peiter Heidle. My maternal family name is Hitt, which came from Heid, when they immigrated to America around the 1730's.

I picked the friesians for a few reasons....one is that one of my ancestors used to breed sheep in Germany. They were described as a milking sheep and apparently he kept a small herd of about 5 to 10. I can't be certain, but I think he probably had friesians <3. Another reason was that aside from fitting my milk and wool needs perfectly and preferring a small herd environment, they are supposedly very very friendly, like you mentioned. I have two 16 month olds and I hope that when they are older they will become involved with the farm. I want a sheep that will be docile and easy for them to handle for 4-h and agriculture projects. It is absolutely adorable that they trade lambs ha ha! That's like me, I took in my neice right alongside my son and raised them as twins. The more I learn about these sheep the more I love them.

And I absolutely LOVE the idea of giving them traditional Friesian names! If you could send me a list of a few male and female names that would be wonderful! What a wonderful way to honor such an old breed. I had never even thought of that before, I'm so so glad you mentioned it. Thank you so much for your comment
I had no idea about using tannins to help with parasite control but that makes a lot of sense since most of the antiparasitic herbs I keep on hand are high in tannins. Thank you so much for that knowledge .

I had heard that they could be very slow to mature but any breed that is dual purpose usually is a little less efficient in all areas than one purpose breeds.  Do you know if the quality of meat is decent? I know with my wyandottes chickens, they take almost twice as long to finish but the meat is much higher quality, very soft with lots of fat separating the muscle groups, than the Cornish crosses I raise for just meat.

Thank you both for your advice!
I absolutely love the idea about doing the wide alleys with sediment traps! We have done something very similar with the already clear sections of land but they are nore like wide terraces. When we bought this place it had eroded down to bedrock I'm many places. Every time it rained the driveway got covered in red mud, so I spent the first year practicing my stone masonry. It's year 6 and we are just now starting to see some fertile land coming back. I've been building up the soil with manure from my animals and local farmers as well as compost, mostly mushroom compost. I packed a lot of the areas in front of the erosion control walls with fallen trees and leaves and manure, they are basically huge hugelkulture beds. I've gotten very very efficient at building rock walls to catch runoff. I'll see if I can grab some pictures later.

Most of the species of tree here are oaks. Some red, mostly white. There are also intermittent poplars, maples, and a few cherry and hickory. I had the forestry service woodlot adviser come up the first year and we have been cutting down select poplar and twisted or unsturdy trees to keep the woodlot up. We don't use too much wood honestly. I would say 6 cords a year TOPs. Last year we only used 2 but it was a mild winter. I also have a gasifier engine that runs off of the smoke from the stove when the power goes out. I thought you guys might think that's neat, my fiance built it. I'm not sure which species are best for coppicing and pollarding. I've honestly never thought about it for the forest trees which is silly because I just did it with a girdled apple tree in the orchard and I do it every year with my willows.

The sheep will have divided pastures. I would like to split the 2 acres I already have into 2 sections for grazing and a small paddock. I also want to fence my orchard and let them graze in there in the fall and get windfalls. Thank you all so much for the advice! It is my duty, as I see it, to improve my little peice of land and help make it as healthy as possible. If it is healthy it will be able to keep me and my family healthy and it has. I'm thinking about maybe clearing out a fairly flat section that is acting as basically a small pine Barron. It is full of damaged pines and nothing is growing under them. Aside from missing my pine needles that I use as mulch for my strawberries and blueberries, that area of about an acre and a half, would be the least damaging to remove. We do have other pines spread out on the property so the natural food source would still be there, and I just transplanted 35 pine trees from that area down to the side of the road to act as a noise break and privacy screen.
1 year ago
I am planning on adding some east Friesian dairy sheep to my homestead in VA by next spring. We have 11 acres but only 3 to 4 is pasture. I am planning on fencing about 2 acres, as well as my orchard, for grazing the sheep. I have heard sheep only need about 1 acre for 3 to 4 sheep and their lambs. I want to raise them mainly on grass, with as little commercial feed as possible. I want to use feed that I can grow or produce for health reasons ( I am allergic to many antibiotics and two common preservatives in chicken feed), and also to keep down cost.  So this is my plan, now tell me honestly what you think:

I am going to be raising the sheep for milk, wool and meat, with meat taking a backseat to milk and wool. I WANT to keep their grain intake to an absolute minimum, and only use it during the winter and gestation. I plan on having a small herd, mainly for home use for my family, of about 4 or 5 sheep. I would fence the two acres into 2 sections to allow herd division and pasture rest. I will also use the fenced orchard, once the trees are larger, as grazing in fall. This would also allow us to use the windfalls as a food source. Will the 2 acres be enough to grass feed the herd? Or will I need to create more pasture by clearing some woods?  
I have been playing with the idea of clearing some land for another pasture but would prefer not to unless I need to. I'm thinking about clearing another 2 or 3 acres of the wooded area to create a summer pasture for them. That would allow me to rest the winter pasture and even make hay.
Another idea, and this is just an idea as I haven't found any information on anyone having done this before....is to use the acorns that are so ridiculously abundant here as feed for them. Our 6 to 7 wooded acres is mainly oaks. White and red, with many more white than red.  Now, before you shoot me, I know that tannins are toxic to sheep and I know about acorn poisoning. But I also know that you can soak shelled acorns in water to remove tannins, and then use that tannin water to tan hides etc. So I was planning on collecting and soaking the acorns and using them as feed since I literally rake up TONS every fall, and even though it is labor intensive, I only plan on feeding for 2 to 4 months, so it wouldn't be huge amounts, only about 10 pounds per week as supplementary feed/starch. I also am thinking about growing mangel beets and pumpkins as feed too. Time is not an issue for me. I am a stay at home mom, so my kids and my farm are my life. I am so very very lucky in that regard so I don't mind taking a little extra time and effort to produce healthy natural food and milk for my family. <3

So tell me what you think! Any thoughts, suggestions or advice are welcome! Criticism too but you know, just try not to be too mean lol.  Thank you so much!
We have a small farm in westernish VA. We are in Nelson, so the mountains, and we have about 11 acres. Out of the 11 acres about 4 is clear, the rest is wooded with 20-40 year trees and rich healthy forest, I mean HEALTHY. We have thousands of ghost flower, crane fly orchid, Solomon's seal, etc....lots of semi endangered plants.

Now here is my moral dilemma. I have been only using the woods as a wood lot for our woodstove for the past five years, since we bought it. Now, I am running out of usable pasture and open land for my farming escapades. I currently have two large gardens going. I raise chickens for meat and eggs but they are tucked into a scrubby area. I have a small berry patch with goji berries, blue berries and raspberries, and aronia and elderberries. I have herb gardens that are fit into the natural layout of the land, and I have a small and upcoming orchard, and a fenced area where I plan to raise East Friesian sheep for milk, meat, and wool starting next year. I have angora rabbits and bees, basket willows, dyers garden, and a thousand other projects going on too but I'm running out of open land, as I said before.

Now I do currently raise SOME mushrooms, I have a shiitake lot and a few stumps of oyster mushrooms, and I also harvest wild trametes versicolor (turkey tail) for their medicinal values. I also wild harvest many medicinal herbs from the woods. I have a deep appreciation for my beautiful forest, but I need to expand my usable land. I have been playing with the idea of cutting about two or
three acres at most as a small pasture for the sheep during summer, and making hay on the one that I already have established. We could use the cut wood for our stove or lumber, and instead of clearing the stumps and destroying the soil with heavy equipment, that I could use them for mushroom production. This would still leave 3 to 5 acres of woods. I am worried about having enough wood for the future though from only 3 to 5 acres, and I am also worried about erosion as our land is all uphill.... literally, we own a mountain and there is nothing flat unless you make it. I'm hoping that by leaving the stumps it will help keep the soil in place until other grasses and shrubs can take hold.

If you have any ideas that would help, or if you think I shouldn't cut the pasture patch please let me know. If you have any forest agriculture ideas other than ginseng (already working on it)I would love to hear them as well! Really, any suggestions on how to best utilize this wooded area of my property, and how best to clear and use the patch I intend to cut while doing the least damage are welcome! I hope to hear from you soon!

PS...sorry for my rambling post. I've never been a conscise writer. Also, I love this site! Thank you to everyone for all the knowledge and ideas!
1 year ago