Niele da Kine

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since Oct 15, 2015
Zone 11B Moku Nui Hawaii
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Recent posts by Niele da Kine

I still have a '77 Kenmore which is a rugged machine that's sewn miles of fabric.  For awhile I was doing boat interiors and awnings with it and it handled that beautifully.  Then, at a yard sale, there was a Singer 401A in a beat up cabinet for $15.  I tried selling it at a little 'antique mall' that I'm part of for $50, but nobody was interested in it.  I'd later picked up a Singer Featherweight and decided not to keep it since it didn't have a zigzag stitch and while researching the Featherweight, I found out that the 401A is a solid metal direct drive machine so I took that out of the shop and tuned it up.  That's now become my 'go to' machine.

That's the 'as found' in the shop picture.  I'm glad it didn't sell.

It's been cleaned, tuned and set into a different cabinet with more storage spaces.  The cabinet needed a lot of work, but it had been at a different yard sale for $10.

Singer Cabinet #47 as found at a yard sale.

Same cabinet with "Howard's Restore-A-Finish" wiped on it.

So far there's $35 into the machine and cabinet.  A lot of times folks don't value these old machines even though there's some amazing machine work in them.

Just to add icing to an already sweet deal, this was found at our local dump about a year later:

I'd just seen a sewing machine case in the metals bin, grabbed it and stuck it in the car to look at later since it was heavy (35#) so I knew there was a machine inside.  Imagine my surprise that it was a matching Singer 401A!  Perfect!  An 'at home' machine and a 'portable' machine.  At 35#, it has a small wheeled dolly to haul it around, but it sews so much better than new machines that it's worth the weight.

The machine at the dump hadn't been working since someone had installed a lever on the cam shaft incorrectly, but it was an easy fix.  

Try looking at your local thrift shops, estate sales or sales from where the kids are cleaning out their parents or auntie's house.  To many folks, they're just 'an old sewing machine' and not worth much.  

The only drawbacks to the Singer 401A is that it is a 'Slant-O-Matic' which means it's really easy to thread, but the feet aren't interchangeable with other Singers.  The bobbins are also just a touch bigger and thinner.

The 401A bobbins are the flatter ones with only four holes in them.  So, now I have to have separate bobbins and feet for the Kenmore (which uses Singer bobbins & feet) and the Singer 401A.  But, the 401A is worth it, it's a very willing machine and wants to get the job done, not fussy and persnickety like the cheap new machines.

There's a whole pile of mid-century mostly metal machines out there.  Find one with no electronics on it and as little plastic as possible.
3 weeks ago
Aloha Colter,

Since she's almost 6 years old, an angora bunny would probably not be a very good pet for your daughter.  Mostly due to the coat harvesting, it takes a fairly high level of dexterity to get the wool off the bunny in a usable condition.  When she is a bit older and if she's interested in making yarn, then some angoras would be a good thing.  Or, if you wanted to make the yarn, then you could harvest the wool and your daughter have a pet in the meantime.  Because of the coat, I don't think she'd be able to keep an angora by herself without help, though.

We have English angoras and they're quite profitable, but we've been breeding them for years for low maintenance coats.  A lot of the profit from them comes from being able to sell the finished yarn at retail rates instead of just the fiber.  We can also feed a lot of forage and that keeps costs down.  YMMV.

We've been breeding them for years for good temperaments and low maintenance coats.  The ones around here don't need daily grooming, they go for about six weeks with zero grooming after they're sheared.  Then they get minimal grooming until it's time to shear again.  They're not show bunnies, they're a fiber herd.  They're actually much better as a 'hands off' type of bunny since when they're picked up and held, they then want to groom the scent of human off themselves.  If they do that too much, they ingest too many hairs, it blocks up their stomach, they can't eat, it doesn't end well.  And it's always the beloved pets that this happens to.  But, even though the bunnies here are 'livestock', they're still very cuddly livestock and they still frequently get picked up and petted.

Perhaps instead of a fiber bunny, you could raise bunnies for the pet market.  Find out which rabbits sell for the most in your area and then get good bloodstock of that breed.  Keep pedigrees on them, a rabbit pedigree is just a record of it's ancestors, you don't have to register them with any organization like you have to do with dogs.  I use Kintracks, which is an inexpensive computer program which is really good for any kind of livestock record keeping.  

The smallest breeds and the dwarf breeds, such as Holland Lops and Netheland dwarfs, usually have smaller litters and the dwarfs have some problems with the dwarfing gene.  When calculating which breeds would be profitable to raise and sell as pets, add in average size of litter to the calculations.  Personally, I'd opt for a Rex or mini-Rex as a pet breed.  They're very plush yet don't have excessive coat care, they come in nice colors, the ones I've met have had lovely temperaments and it seems to me they'd be a great pet.  Not as expensive as a Holland Lop or Netherland Dwarf, but having larger litters may end up with more $$$ at the end of it all anyway.

Not sure how well a whippet will do with a rabbit, keeping them very separate is a good idea, IMHO.  Dogs kill more rabbits than anything else around here, but we don't have a lot of the predators that are on the mainland.

Rabbits are kinda a solitary yet social kinda critter.  They don't mind other rabbits and can happily live in a herd, yet they like their own space and can be territorial.  If they have their own space and once it's scented like themselves, they are pretty much happy by themselves.  But, you'll need at least two if you're gonna breed rabbits.  We keep six bucks in one big hutch that is segmented into six spaces.  They can visit through the wire, but they can't attack each other.  Bucks can fight, even fight to the death.  A doe herd will usually do pretty well, although there is occasionally a diva bunny who wants to boss everybunny else around.  Also to watch out for is the shy doe who doesn't push her way in to the food dish when everyone is eating.  Make sure that the shy ones get enough to eat and you can usually keep the girls in communal space.  Since we have multiple communal spaces, when I'm changing the make up of a doe herd, I'll swap spaces so they're all in a 'new' space.  That seems to keep kerfluffles to a minimum.

Starting small is good.  Get a pair of 'pet' bunnies, let them have a litter and then sell the excess kits and see if it's going to work out.  If nothing else, your daughter has a pet and your rose bushes will be happy with the 'bunny berries'.
3 weeks ago
For young growing bunnies up to six to eight months old (depends on the size of the breed as to how long it takes them to get to adult size) we will usually let them eat as much as they want of both pellets and hay/forage.  Once they become adults, then their pellet intake is monitored although they have as much hay or forage as they want.

Usually you can tell if your rabbit is being properly fed by feeling his condition.  If you can easily feel the backbone, especially a bumpy backbone with hardly any flesh over the ribs, then he needs more food.  If the bunny has flesh on the backbone and over the ribs and isn't fat, then he's being fed enough.

For a breeding doe, we feed them as much as they want.  For a doe feeding a litter, as much as she wants with additional higher nutritional food such as high protein bunny pellets mixed with Black Oil Sunflower seeds, rolled oats or barley.  Maybe a bit of calf manna.
1 month ago
Bunny berries are the only fertilizer we use.  A layer several inches thick is spread over the top of the garden before planting or whenever a plant looks hungry.  It gets tossed around tree roots, along the hedges, where ever there's a plant.  More bunny berries on the garden produces more greenery which we can then give some to the buns to create more bunny berries.  Bunnies and gardens are really good for each other.  (as long as they're not actually IN the garden eating the veggies you want for dinner)
1 month ago
This is probably another 'it depends' type of answer.  If it's a house rabbit and used to people and artificial sounds, then radio or TV wouldn't bother it.  Some of them may even enjoy it, it all depends on the rabbit and situation.

We have outside bunnies in a hutch who are pretty happy without a radio.  They get interacted with several times a day and talked to while people are nearby, they don't like things to sneak up on them so talking to them while walking up to the hutch area is appreciated by the them, at least, as far as I can tell.  I would think constant or of long duration artificial sound wouldn't be appreciated by them.

I'd figure their alarm system is a thump with a hind foot and a lot of music has a pretty thump-like beat.  In rabbit speak that may mean a constant low level input of "danger-danger-danger-danger" which can't be restful.

1 month ago
There's a pedigree program called 'Kintracks' which is inexpensive and has a handy 'coefficient of inbreeding' tool.  From an animal's page, you can click on the inbreeding tool and match them up with an animal of another gender and it will give you the percentage of inbreeding along with details on which other animals they're related to.  It's a free download and you can test out the program with the addition of quite a few animals before you need to pay for it and it's not expensive (around $20 Australian) when you do.

I've been breeding angora rabbits since 2009 starting from eight individuals and have been able to keep the levels of inbreeding below 25%.  There's been the addition of several new animals over the years, but not very many.  Just lately, I've allowed the level of inbreeding to be a bit higher and it's been interesting to see some of the changes in the offspring.  Some of them are getting extra fuzzy and some are losing the fluff on their ears.  Another has showed up in a color that I haven't a clue what it is.  Looks like a very chocolatey dark sable, but that's an impossible color from a tort x REW cross.  Well, fortunately, there's the Kintracks database so maybe the color and genetics behind it can be figured out.

Keeping good records is important for any kind of animal breeding, whether it's tracking the level of inbreeding or fertility rates or production rates.  
1 month ago
That sounds like a great setup, Thomm!  It would be nice to try something like that around here, perhaps.  The bunnies do like grazing, although they only have a small corral made of zip stripped together refrigerator racks from our local dump.  They don't seem to try to get out even though they could probably easily jump over the short fence if they tried.

We end up doing a lot of 'cut & carry' to get forage to them, it would be a lot easier if they were able to go out and gather it on their own.  If they're in a grassy area, they'd probably keep their wool clean.
1 month ago

Seven week old English angoras.  They will all have "V" names this year, hopefully "V" for Vaccine and not only "V" for virus.

Same babies at four days old.  The pink one will become white.

Six week old babies from a different litter.

8 months ago
If you have a moist area somewhere that isn't dead (i.e. has worms in it) they will probably go there and then you'll be able to collect them for your garden.  We get lots of them under the bunny hutches where there's lots of bunny manure, especially after washing down and it's more moist than usual.  I've always been amazed at how much wetness the worms really seem to like.  I'd have thought it was too soggy for them in several areas, yet those would be the areas which had the most worms.  Perhaps if you tried making a moist haven for them somewhere in the yard where there's likely to be worms you'll have a collection site.
8 months ago
I would say most likely the answer to "Is raising angora rabbits worth it?" is "it depends".  For us, yes, it is definitely worth it.  However, we don't sell fiber, we sell finished yarn.  We also sell rabbits, but the rabbit sales pretty much just pays the costs of feed and maintenance.  The profit comes from yarn sales.  We also have a place to sell yarn at retail rates and not wholesale rates.  So, if it's profitable to keep angora rabbits, a lot of that answer is 'it depends'.

Angora rabbits are technically a rabbit, but they're not really that much into 'rabbitness'.  They don't dig much or chew much, they do a lot of laying around and growing fluff.  They have never been a wild rabbit, they've always been domesticated.  The length of their wool keeps them from even being able to successfully breed very well unless they get a haircut.

We usually have a couple dozen English angoras at any particular time.  They produce about a pound of good fiber per bunny per year.  Depending on the condition of their coat at the time of harvest, it will either be plucked or shorn.  We have the type of English angora which can be plucked, not all of them can.  It's a lot like picking the hair off your dog when he's molting, they aren't hurt and don't mind being picked on.  Usually about halfway through the grooming, the bunny will start helping, especially once we've reached an area they've been wanting to itch for awhile but haven't been able to reach because of the dense coat.  Actually, in the rabbit world, the rabbit being groomed is top rabbit, so they like being groomed.  Well, except for toenail clipping and in the ticklish spots.  But, they are easily bribe-able to behave well while grooming.  The bunnies here are handled from the moment they are born, so they're very used to being fussed about with and that helps make grooming and coat harvesting easier as well.  

Temperament is also one of the major selection factors when deciding who to breed.  Fiber quality first and foremost.  Then health, conformation, temperament and fertility.

We frequently end up shearing the bunnies, just like micro-sheep.  If they are shorn, they won't need any coat maintenance for several months.  Then a little bit of combing with a long toothed steel comb (brushes don't do much in a dense coat) will keep the mats at bay.  FWIW, coat maintenance is one of the selection factors when deciding which bunnies to breed.  That's part of the fiber quality, since if it's matted, it's not going to make good yarn.  It's also because of the amount of bunnies we have, if they were the type with high maintenance coats it would take tons more time.

The bunnies are kept in wire bottomed hutches with 1" x 1/2" wire floors.  The bucks have a ledge to lounge on and the does have an assortment of nest boxes and ledges.  There's also big ceramic tiles when it's hot, although, again, this is Hawaii so we never really get that hot around here.  The bucks are kept in their own separate spaces, they don't do well living together, especially if there's females around.  They may look like a soft fluffy but they're got teeth and claws and when they fight they can draw blood and even kill each other.  We haven't had any bucks actually kill each other, but some of my friend's bunnies managed it.  The females can usually all live in a big herd, although sometimes there will be a diva who gets too bossy and gets her own space.  They enjoy being with each other and the buck spaces are side by side so they can visit with their neighbor, but there's a wire wall between them so they can't fight.

The bunnies here are part of the garden, we don't use any fertilizers other than 'bunny berries'.  The bunnies get all kinds of leaves, trimmings and such from the garden as well as the yard and their 'bunny berries' go back to fertilize and produce more greenery.  It works amazingly well.  Under the hutches is a great place for worms, too, so they get scooped up with the bunny berries and added to the garden as well.  Bunny manure is a 'cold' manure so it can be put directly on plants without being composted although it's usually set around under the hutches long enough to be composted somewhat anyway.

We don't feed them hay since hay is too expensive around here (approx. $35 per bale of timothy or orchard grass hay) and it mildews before even a fraction of it can be used.  However, this is Hawaii, we have fresh forage all year.  They get a lot of various grasses, ti leaves and mulberry leaves along with high protein pelleted feed mixed with rolled grain of some sort and black oil sunflower seeds.  Depending on what you have in your area, you may be able to grow a lot of their food.  

They do need a lot of roughage to keep any ingested long hairs moving through their system.  They can't cough up hairballs like cats can so if they ingest too many hairs, they can become unable to process their food and that's not good.  However, since the bunnies here are fiber producers and we harvest their fiber three times a year we've not had trouble with gut stasis from ingesting too much wool.  With show bunnies who keep their dense fluffy coat on them for much longer, they are more likely to have these sorts of issues.

As for eating them, the English angoras we have are pretty small at around five to six pounds when fully grown.  They can be eaten, but they can also be sold for the price of two lobsters (which I think is tastier than rabbit), so the extra ones are usually sold instead of eaten.

Bunnies are pretty adaptable and flexible in their care and keeping arrangements.  You'll probably have a completely different setup that will be perfect for your space and your needs.
8 months ago