Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Challenging Silver Marten *edited

After reading the SMRC's version of The Challenging Silver Marten, I decided I had my own version to write.

One year ago I discovered that my breeder friends Sarah Cleavenger & Nicole Velotta were dispersing their herd of Silver Martens. I had always admired their gorgeous Martens and it’s has always been on my list of breeds “I’d raise”. I took the news to heart, and with arising Mini Lop problems and passing my judges test, I decided to take on an additional breed.

I purchased 2 does and picked them up in September 2010. I had asked Sarah if she would breed them to their super buck Arson, before they left. A month went by and no babies. I was not able to purchase a senior buck until October 2010. I took MGD (purchased from Scott Rudolph) home and bred my does. Again, a failure. During that time I had taken the opportunity to purchase a Blue buck from Tex Thomas at convention. It was my first real sight unseen sale, I purchased a “name”, but I received a wonderful buck, Badger. Finally when I went home for Thanksgiving holiday, I bred the does again and they both took, giving me 15 Christmas babies. Of the 15, I narrowed it down to 4 by Spring break. I decided to keep a Black doe & Blue buck from Pyro, and two does from Maddy.

While Marten breeders were battling enteropathies, I was having troubles getting does bred. This has never been an issue for me with Mini Lops, so the concept is alarming. A doe has a certain place in my barn, she’s either a growing junior, being shown, bred, or on a litter. If a doe is none of those options in my herd she does not last long. Additionally, during the spring I was having troubles conditioning the Martens. Where my Mini Lop feed worked wonders on them, it was not suitable to the Martens. Not willing to run two different feeds, I will have to learn how to condition these muscular, firm fleshed rabbits on my feed and learn how to cull to it. Since I have no juniors to practice on, this concept is on hold.

In October I started showing the Martens & have exhibited 1-4 per show since. I have done pretty well, holding my own weight. In June I had my most well deserved wins at the State conventions; but some heartbreaks came as well. At Oregon State, Del Rio won BOB in shows B & C. I also won BOSB in two shows with Bacardi. After Oregon State, I felt the Marten pains as I lost Zinfandel. A week later I lost Del Rio. At Washington state, I scratched two black does. Pendleton was buried in a class of 15 with finish breaks. Badger was 1st of 4 each show & Bacardi, he was my little star. He won BOV both shows with comments from both Tex Thomas and the Sunday show judge that he was an inch away from winning BOB, he just needed more maturity. It was especially nice to hear Tex rave about Bacardi. He even found me afterwards to tell me what a great job I had done growing him up. Marten breeders at the table surely thought he would win, but those shiny blacks are hard to beat!

With two does & two bucks, plus a Silver Marten colored Satin purchased at state, I am at a road block with the small herd. Maddy is hopefully bred. As soon as Pendleton gets home, I will be breeding her. I would really like to breed her to Bacardi, but my feelings are I should breed her to Badger and sell him & Maddy and move on with my line. I have molded what I want so far and only to move forward makes sense right now. Purchasing more Martens doesn’t seem pliable. After seeing what other breeders raise & offer to sell – breeding my own and achieving my own does to breed is the only way up. Unfortunately, that means getting litters from my does. Until this action happens, the Martens are currently less than frustrating. A good kind of frustration, I enjoy the challenge as long as I can overcome it :) The Silver Marten breeders in the pacific northwest (and nationwide) are some of the downright nicest breeders I've ever encountered and am happy to have the incentive to continue into the next year.

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