John and I had the great pleasure of visiting one of the largest Angora rabbit breeders and fiber producers in Maine last Saturday. Beth Acker, of Acker’s Acres, was kind enough to give us a tour of her rabbitry and share with us a wealth of information about raising angoras.
I’ve been mentally planning for raising rabbits since we bought the house, and since I started running into John’s office to show him yet another adorable bunny in The Nervous New Owner’s Guide to Angora Rabbits or another diagram from Storey’s Guide to Raising Rabbits, he’s been softening to the idea. When I came across some information about the Maine Fiber Frolic and started drooling in excitement, he sighed and said, “Yes, I guess we can do rabbits this spring.”
Acker’s Acres is the closest angora rabbitry, and you can only imagine how thrilled I was when Beth invited us to come meet her rabbits. After half an hour or so of inspecting colors, listening to Beth’s advice, and mostly, watching the adorable bunnies hop about in their cages, John’s resignation had turned into something a bit closer to excitement.
To share forward a bit of the knowledge and excitement, here are just a few of the nifty tidbits Beth shared with us:
- 40% angora blended with 60% wool is enough to gift a yarn the halo and softness of angora and the strength and spring of wool.
- Angoras usually have three different coats at different stages, which you can see pretty clearly in the black rabbits.
- Purebred German angoras only come in white, but they have the highest fiber production, so many Maine breeders cross Germans with other breeds to get the best of both color and fiber production.
- Wood hutches are a bad idea for angoras because (a) the rabbits will chew on them and (b) the hutches will get soaked with urine, making the rabbits dirtier and their wool less viable for spinning.
John and I still have work to do to get ready for bunnies, but I’m hoping we’ll have our mini-rabbitry ready by the Fiber Frolic. Beth’s hoping to have a good number of kits ready to go shortly after the Frolic, so we’re hoping to pop down for another visit to reserve a pair when they’re old enough for their color to be showing true.
And a word to anyone else planning on stopping by the Acker’s Acres booth at one of the festivals–save lots of fiber money for Beth’s booth, because her hand-dyed colors (roving and yarn) are absolutely gorgeous and luscious to the touch.