Friday, August 21, 2015

Rare breeds and The Fight Against Stupidity

So many big plans for this week and where did I wind up? …in bed….sick as a Dodo with a migraine from hell and a stomach flu to boot: a brilliant combo !..NOT!

So the August clubs didn’t get dyed and the batts didn’t get made and the custom orders slowly but surely piling up were not finished either. Today is the first day out of bed and feeling extremely woozy …but the battle goes on ! Because what was the first thing I saw on my phone today? : What is the DPI trying to get sanctioned ?
Yes: a brandspanking new calici virus even better than the previous successful ones .

This time it is lovingly called the K5 calici virus and hails from South Korea. Why?

Ever since an English nobleman in the early 1850s imported 24 rabbits into Australia for hunting purposes it kinda got out of hand with the wild rabbit population. The Gentry obviously overestimated its hunting capabilities and sucked big time at shooting rabbits or got tired of roaming the bush for bunnies and got another hobby and started looking for gold in them hills..who knows. The fact is that now..well for the last few decades, the farmers are seeing the countryside devasted and their livestock hurt by stepping in rabbit holes and warrens.

Another brilliant idea was hatched and they released a virus called myxomatosis , that any pet rabbit owner cannot vaccinate against because bringing in the vaccine is illegal in Australia! So yes, wild rabbits did die as predicted but so did (and they are still !) pet rabbits and rare breed rabbits. 
Then –ahem---ahem- by accident…nudge nudge wink wink....from South Australia..a virus was mistakenly let out…OOPS!...oh well: the calici virus.

We can vaccinate our bunnies against this virus, but the thing with viruses is..they mutate and the vaccine cannot possibly protect against all strains. We lost over 75% of our carefully bred stock of beautiful English angora bunnies in a huge amount of colours, about 4 years ago! We vaccinated every year. Still they died painfully and in large numbers…this was 4 years ago. We are still building up, But, bloodlines were lost and lots of colour variations were lost . Friends have lost more than 18 rabbits earlier this year. Others even more. It is a gigantuan heart ache for the rabbit owners to see their beloved pets die in such a horrendous way. And, there is nothing you can do about it. Yes, you can vaccinate, but there is now evidence that even the available vaccinaton once a year is not enough since the protection wears off in 6 months…and then there are the different strains. The least thing they could do, is to advice the population when a virus is getting released. They don’t. You can protect your bunnies keeping them locked in the house, fly wire screened and vaccinated and still they will not be a 100% safe. Why? Because viruses tend to get carried by lots of things and we are one of the carriers, as well as birds, pigs, flies, mosquitos, etc etc. The carriers do not die -, but we do have the virus stamp inside us .

However, At the time we had the calici virus raging through our stock it was very typical that the local wildlife was non existant either: we had a more than usual death rate of local wildlife birds and even wallabies around. Scary but true. So, the DPI , obviously under pressure by ?? farmers?? Government?? Are planning to get a new even more vicious calici virus approved for use: K5 RCD virus. Today in Melbourne farmers, scientists and landcare groups are meeting at a Victorian Rabbit Management Conference to prepare for the launch next april. Dr Tarnya Cox from the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre is asking farmers to contact Landcare to volunteer their properties for K5’s release. And, on the other hand , all the people with pet rabbits, commercial rabbit farmers, rabbit Fanciers ( the ones who breed bunnies and show rare breeds and basically keep the rarer breeds alive !) are not heard or asked to take part in any of the discussions.

On a side note: On ABC yesterday : Let’s not forget Senator Bob Katter , who protested the fact that his favourite Akubra hat won’t be able to be made from Australian Rabbits anymore….. The NSW Akubra hat industry cannot get Australian rabbits anymore? Well, hello!? Who would want to get into an industry that from one day to the next can get decimated with hundreds and thousands of dollars going down the drain and no way of recovery? and eh...why not organise a well functioning akubra hat company to get the Australian wild rabbits they need straight out of their back yard instead of risking so much by biological warfare? Some people are just highly illogical in their problem solving....

I wonder why, people are always making the same mistake: it is happening with the rabbits and the whole way they are dealing with the issue from the rabbit proof fence to myxo to calici. It happened with the introduction of the cane toad to get rid of a pest destroying the sugar canes not knowing?? -huh???-that the cane toads wouldn’t want to eat those particular bugs and now the cane toads are a problem. It’s like Australia has a life long love affair with throwing the baby out with the bath water.

There is a petition waiting for your signature on :

Please let your voice be heard! Speak for the Rabbits....and sign the petition .

For this update I was planning on putting two fibres on: one of a rare sheep breed and one of our pure white absolutely lusciously soft white English angora fibre. One of the reasons I want to share rare breeds with you , whether it be rabbits or sheep or any other kind of animal, is to make sure that we know about the wonderful variety and biodiversity of nature and our Mother Earth and don’t let it get destroyed by stupidity and greed. The calici virus issue I raised earlier is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want something to fight for, please Speak for Rare Breeds. Too much has already been lost.

So what rare sheep breed is on offer tonight? : It is the Manx Loaghtan !
The Manx Loaghtan conjures up images of the movie “Hell Boy” but these sheep are the epitome of gentle awesomeness ! Here are photos illustrating the flow from little lamb to adult heroism:

The origins of these primitive sheep are not fully understood but their ancestors are thought to go back to the Iron Age.
They share many characteristics with other primitive sheep and are part of the Northern Short Tail group of sheep.
These related primitive sheep were spread round Scandinavia, Iceland, the Scottish Islands and the Isle of Man by the Vikings.
The Manx Loaghtan is still one of the rarest of breeds in the British Isles and since 1973 the Rare Breeds Survival Trust has helped promote these wonderful sheep.
Up to the 18th century these sheep covered the Manx hills in their thousands. Gradually they were replaced by modern sheep that mature quicker and are heavier. Obviously modern economics are far from
In the last 120 years the Manx Loaghtan came close to extinction 3 times and was only saved by the dedication and foresight of a few people.
In the 1950s numbers were down to less than a 100!!!
 Happily today there are just over a thousand and their future seems much brighter as people have come again to appreciate the wool which is naturally a dark tan colour, soft, light yet very warm.

The first thing that you notice about Manx Loaghtan sheep is their impressive set of horns. Both sexes have 2, 4 or even 6 horns!

As the name suggests, the Manx Loaghtan originated on the Isle Of Man. It is a small, ancient hill breed. Originally white with some grey and black sheep but few of the reddish-brown colour we see today (the word 'Loaghtan' comes from the Manx for 'mouse brown').

Like many other heritage breeds, the Loaghtan was once popular but declined in the early 20th century. The breed was rescued by enthusiasts both on the Isle of Man and in Scotland (where I got these beauties from) , and is now popular as a conservation grazer that will eat almost anything!

The breed is considered 'at risk' by the Rare Breed Survival Trust, with fewer than 1,500 registered breeding ewes.

Most Loaghtans have a medium staple length fleece, which in varying shades of brown getting paler with age, although they bleach to cream in the sun. The lambs are born black and generally achieve their particular shade of brown during the first year.

The fleece is very nice and soft witjh a staple length of between 70mm-100mm with around 22-28micron. It is great to spin for close to skin wear or for outerwear as well. I love this sheep. It has such an old world feel to it and so ancient in a way and ofcourse the fleece itself is just magic to spin up.

Please understand that I do not have a lot of stock of this exceptional rare breed fibre. Do not wait too long to pounce on this weeks update to avoid disappointment. I am offering you this all scoured and cleaned and pulled into luscious tops ready to spin in its natural colour. I will always be tempted to overdye grey fleeces (like you will see in later updates with the grey merino and silk blend I am working on as well) but there is no way I am tempted to overdye this luscious honey brown caramel coloured Manx Loughtan fibre. It is amazing just the way it is !

Manx Loughtan
Rare Sheep breed Tops - all sold sorry !!!-

A rare sheep breed that is a magical addition to your stash !

100grams (+/-3.5Oz); AU$21  

Manx Loughtan top

IxCHeL  Angora Rabbit Fibre

25-28grams/1 oz AU$10
A very soft lusciouis natural white fibre, great for spinning, felting or embellishing or… To cuddle and call George
Great to spin and wear !  Harvested by  a simple haircut on the grooming table after three months of growth .

Miracle Max

Mme Butterfly

Have a fun weekend Creating your Dreams! 

Please don't hesitate to contact me at any time if you have any questions okay? Always happy to enable.

All my contact details are to be found at the end of this weeks blog entry.
Have fun !!!

Dates to put in your Calendar !!

Saturday , September 26th
Play day at Pascoe Vale
You can find all the info on this poster and for any questions you may have please contact Annet !

Sunday , September 27th   (9:30-3pm)

Sheep and Woolcraft Field Day , Cranbourne Public HAll (near KFC)
A perfect fibre and craft day hosted by the Black n Coloured Sheep association of Australia and an absolute MUST!
How To Order:
1. You can email me on ixchel at rabbit dot com dot au or ixchelbunny at yahoo dot com dot au
2. message me on facebook or ravelry where I am Ixchelbunny.

I will email you right back with all your order details and payment methods.

Any questions? Any custom orders for yarn or dyeing fibre? Please don’t hesitate to ask! Always happy to enable.
Thank you so much for your help and support !

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