Amanda Parker

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since May 01, 2018
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kids rabbit homestead
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

I am raising dairy sheep right now and I love it! I have several east friesian ewes and some Finnsheep ewes who are also known to be quite milky.  My ran is a Finnsheep/friesian cross. I did it because I raised goats when I was younger and im just not a fan. I am also a spinner, Weaver, felter, and knitter so I really wanted an animal that could pull double duty. They actually pull triple duty as I get milk, wool and meat ;) from ram lambs that we don't need or cull.

I wouldn't go back to goats for anything. I love the taste of the milk and the wonderful cheeses I make. Their wool is beautiful and provides an extra source of income for us. And sheep are much easier to care for than goats in my opinion.

I did have trouble finding breeding stock as well. I had to have my babies transported from the Midwest and I paid about 400 per ewe lamb. The Finn's were much cheaper.
One of my EF ewes will give about 3 quarts per day (on average) at peak milking, one of my finns gives about 2 quarts. One of my better ewes gives 5 quarts a day, so the amounts vary from animal to animal. Our family goes through a gallon of milk about every day and a half to 2 days, and that's not cooking, just drinking.....we love milk. I have about 12 girls and that gives us enough for cheeses and yogurt.

I also get lanolin from their wool. I boil see of the lower quality cuts from their fleece and remove the lanolin for using in salves and ointments and cosmetics. The fat from slaughtered lambs (we butcher them ourselves) is rendered down and used to make soap. Sheep are incredible and just an all around amazing homestead animal. They are the foundation of our farm, along with the alpacas and Angoras, and bees <3.

I think your set up will do fine if you do rotational grazing but you will need a place for your ram unless you choose to keep him with the flock, I don't because I don't like not knowing when lambs are due. Just be diligent with parasite checks and field hygiene. Small acreage can be bad for parasites as they tend to build up.

Best of luck with your dairy flock!!!
-Magnolia Knoll Farm and Fiber
The process above is not actually tanning the hide, it's called pickling, and was a common process used to preserve the hides for short periods of time for transport or to save enough hides to sell, and to preserve the hair by preventing bacterial growth. Oxalic acid doesn't have any actual tanning properties. Pickling works short term, but isn't a great option if you want a durable long lasting hide.

My main suggestion is to use emulsified oils and woodsmoke. It's how I've done most of my hides. The brain of the sheep is a wonderful source of lecithin, a tanning agent. You can boil the brain in a small amount of water and apply to the flesh side of the hide. This is a very common practice called brain tanning, and it was one that native Americans used all the time. Another source is egg yolks. You can research both of these methods online, their is a great deal of information about them, including the chemical process. But basically, you mash the boiled brain and water, and apply the brain-paste to the flesh side of the hide. You then rub and work the solution into the hide, and fold the skin flesh sides together, and allow the lecithin to do it's work.

You can also brush the back of the hide with vegetable tannins. I make a solution using acorns and oak galls. I brush the tanning solution onto the skin about 3 times a day and make sure it doesn't dry out in the mean time. The tanning solution is made by soaking the acorns in cold water for about a week, then removing the vegetable matter (you don't want starches in your tanning solution)
Once the hide has been tanned, cut a small strip from the edge and look at it from the side. You want to see the literal tan color all the way through the skin, if it's white in the middle it still needs to continue being treated with the tanning solution.

Once the hide is tanned, I always smoke the hide to add tannins and ensure the skin is tanned, and to waterproof the hide, as moisture is a hides worst enemy. Again, you can research this process online, but the basic method is to tie it up near a stove or fire, and let the smoke billow onto the skin continually for several hours. The creosote and chemicals in the smoke continue tanning the hide and preserve and treat it against moisture. I made a special smoking stove with a perforated pipe off to the side. I tie the hide around the perforated pipe, and the cooled smoke billow up the pipe and onto the skin.

Good luck with your hides! I'm sure they will be beautiful 😍
Absolutely! I no longer raise meat rabbits, I've switched to Angoras, but I used to raise new zealands and standard rex. It was very important to keep records. By knowing which does consistently had large litters and high survival rates I could cull out non productive does, and bucks, as I listed those as well. I also kept records of their weights and time to butcher. Those with the best weight increases in the shortest times were spared from slaughter and used to breed the next generation. I actually increased my 16 week butcher weight by 14 oz after a few years! Another one was dressed and non dressed weight, that helped me know which lines produced nice fine boned heavy carcasses, vs heavy boned carcasses. That was a measurement I added later on though once I had improved other issues. I have found that no matter what you are raising, records are always an important part of animal husbandry.
1 year ago
I have grown the majority of my own bunny food for years, but I'm in a completely different area than you. I would say two of the most important things to consider are calcium/phosphorus balance, and getting enough long fiber in their diets to prevent ileus and gastric stasis since hay is not available to you. You seem like you're on the right track. I would also consider protien levels vs fat in these foods. Rabbits make the most protien rich milk of any livestock and need very high levels to keep the mother in weight and the offspring growing at a decent rate to reach desired butcher weight. Especially in pregnant and nursing animals, if a doe isn't getting enough protien she will start burning fat, known as ketosis, and this can be a problem. A lot of toxins are stored in fat, and if she's burning too much fat it can poison her, a  deadly condition known commonly as pregnancy toxemia in sheep. I grow a stand of birdsfoot trefoil as a high protein, high fiber source for pregnant and lactating does. I don't know if that's an option near you but it's a great legume for rabbits and ruminants. Beware of high sugar and high fat foods like fruits and nuts. Most of a rabbits diet in the wild is grasses and weeds, nuts and fruit aren't a large percentage of their natural diet. All that extra fat can compound the problem of pregnancy toxemia, especially in late pregnancy when the does stomach is smaller because of the large litter and kits she's carrying. High protien food at that time is a must because of the limited amount of food her stomach can hold.

The calcium phosphorus ratio is important too, too much calcium can cause a lot of issues from urinary stones, vitamin deficiencies and neurological issues. Too little can cause problems as well such as dental disease, and hypocalcemia. I strongly urge you to consider the nutritional needs of your animals based on biology and their own lifestyle as well as your goals, then formulate a diet that will meet those requirements.

I am worried about the lack of hay...95% of a rabbits natural diet is hay. One of the most common health issues in rabbits I saw as a vet tech was ileus and gastric stasis caused by a lack of hay and fiber, and urinary stones caused by an uneven calcium phosphorus balance. I would urge you to grow a lot of weeds or for ages like dandelions, spinach, native grasses, chicory, etc to replace the hay in their diet. Plantain stands are excellent for rabbits as well and highly productive. Certain woods like apple twigs, raspberry brambles, etc (in my area) are often used to supplement fiber. Maybe there are some in your area that would be safe for rabbits?

I wish you the very best! Feeding my rabbits organically was a very informative and enriching experience, I hope it will work out for you as well! Feel free to message me if you have any questions 😊
1 year ago
I found a paw paw tree last year and saved some seeds from the ripe fruit. I've kept them in the freezer since I know here in VA they would freeze over the winter. (First off, are they still viable? I collected them in fall of 2018.) Are there any rules for planting them or tips I should know? I figured it would be good to add the genetic variation from the seeds. Are there any reasons not to grow from seed? (Other than time to fruiting) I would appreciate any and all help, thank you!
1 year ago

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 :)
1 year 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!
1 year 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....
1 year 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.
1 year 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?
1 year ago