#1: Lynne, tell us a little about yourself and your family and where you live. Well, I was born in Minnesota in 1963 (for anyone who wants to know how old I am-lol) and spent my early years moving around as my father was in management for F.W. Woolworth (yes, I am that old!) After living in various towns in Montana and both Dakotas we ended up in Nebraska City. As this ended up being a long term arrangement my parents finally gave in to my begging for a pet. We had fish and birds, but that didn’t count to me. Mom liked animals-Dad not so much, but he gave in and let me have a couple of guinea pigs (I know, they are Cavies, but to me they will always be guinea pigs) Alfalfa and Clover , both girls, were soon joined by a nice young boar named Timothy. Needless to say the population grew. One year I took some of my babies to the county fair and won my first ribbon. About this time a small white rabbit, named Harvey of course,joined my little family. Harvey grew up to be a big New Zealand buck, but he was a good bunny. My Dad even paid a vet to splint his leg when it was accidentally broken in a fall, so maybe he liked animals a little bit after all. After Harvey passed on I went to college for a year . I decided that that was enough education for me so I moved into a tiny little house above the creek with and assorted cats, a Sheltie that I had rescued from a bad situation and a white rabbit named Milton that had been dumped out by someone to fend for himself. In 1984 I met my husband Gale and after a whirlwind courtship of 3 months we were married ( I was afraid he would come to his senses and back out if I didn’t nab him quick) The kids soon followed, with our daughter, Amanda, being the 1986 New Years Baby in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Dan arriving in February of 1988. All during this time I kept myself busy as a veterinary assistant and pet groomer. We found a place out in the country where we lived for several years so I was able to keep pretty much whatever I wanted. We had horses and raised foals which I showed at halter. Amanda rode and I drove. We also had a few ponies that I trained to drive as well. We had goats that I milked twice daily and we raised bucket calves and fattened hogs with the excess milk. I made my own cheese and even made some goat milk soap. We raised Shelties and Siamese cats. We had several aquariums set up and I also kept a few turtles, lizards, salamanders and snakes (the snakes were mine-hubby wasn’t a fan of them and would count them every morning to be sure something hadn’t escaped during the night) I was invited to different schools to talk about the herps. I really enjoyed sharing with the kids and took various critters to the schools while the kids were growing up. We pretty much had everything from hissing cockroaches to fat-tailed Duprassis to a rhea. Anyway, things went on pretty well until my migraine disease, which is a hereditary neurological condition, took a bad turn and I eventually had to give up working outside the home and it got too hard to take care of the entire menagerie. In 2004 we moved from the acreage to a small house in town. It was hard letting go of most of my animals, but we still have 2 dogs, 2 cats, 2 Chinchillas, a pair of finches, a bearded dragon, a couple of Koi and all the rabbits so it’s not like I had to give everything up. I still groom a few dogs on the days when I’m feeling OK, but for the most part the bunnies are my full time job now. Gale & I also volunteer for Raptor Recovery Center here in Nebraska-transporting and giving supportive care to injured birds of prey. Currently we reside in Nebraska City, Nebraska but are planning to relocate to Topeka, Kansas so hubby can find work. We are still in the house hunting stage, but hope to move in May after Amanda graduates from college.
#2: How did you first become interested in the Lionhead Breed? When and where did you first hear of it? I recall seeing an ad for Lionheads in the Domestic Rabbits magazine. A friend also mentioned the new maned rabbits she had seen at a show but it was awhile before I actually saw any myself. My husband Gale really liked them and eventually I broke down and bought a little Blue SM doe, supposedly for him. I had to admit it was a pretty cute bunny. One thing led to another and we started acquiring more How many animals did you start out with? We bought a Broken Black buck that didn’t turn out as a breeding buck so I went to a different breeder and bought a Black Otter Buck and a Chinchilla doe, as well as a Black doe from the same person we got the first doe from(yes, we got the colors we liked without any thought to what we would get for offspring, but at the time I thought they were just Hubby’s little fun project-lol) I did eventually phase out the Otter & Chin, but I still have a daughter and granddaughter out of the Black doe How long have you raised the breed and what other breeds do you raise? I think we got our first one in 2003, but we didn’t start having litters until 2004 We also raise Polish and Silver rabbits, and keep a few Holland Lops. When the kids were in 4H they had Silver Martens , Satins, Standard Chinchillas, Mini Rex, Dutch and a few French Lops at various times and I had a promising herd of Florida Whites for a short time and I am STILL kicking myself for getting out of them. The Polish really did well for the kids so we ended up concentrating on that breed and still have a small herd of them. I added the Silvers in 2003 about the same time as the Lionheads-I guess I am just a sucker for challenging breeds
#3: Where and when did you get your original stock and what varieties did you start with? How did you use these first animals to move the breed forward? Did you cross with other breeds? Stick to what you had? Experiment with several crosses? The Blue and Black does came from Faye Scheef of Craig, NE. She had some Cimarron/Statler based Lionheads. I also bought some from Sadie Welsh in Colorado-I really liked the type of what she had then. I added a little Cimarron and then quite a few Mossy Possum rabbits. I hadn’t hybridized in the past, but I have crossed in a little Holland Lop just recently and will be using some Netherland Dwarf later on this year. It’s just a long process of trial and error-it takes some time to get all the pieces in place but I think I have that now. You just never know when breeding animals-you can breed the best to the best and get nothing or breed a BUD (Big, Ugly Doe) and get an entire litter of showable bunnies. I think that is what has kept me interested in breeding animals all these years-you just never know what you are going to end up with but there is a lot of excitement when you first look in the nestbox so it is well worth it. You just have to keep trying different combinations until you find what clicks
#5: What did you consider the hardest part of raising this breed? The most frustrating part? I think the hardest thing about the breed is that it has so many things that have to come together to make a correct Lionhead-it’s very rare yet to get everything in one package. I believe that we are seeing better and better rabbits all the time and I think this trend will continue. The most frustrating part is just getting thru the growing pains of the club. I think we all want the same thing-to breed, promote and show the Lionhead rabbit but it just seems that personalities can get in the way too easily.
#6: What do you see as the major changes in the Lionheads from the earlier years? The animals are smaller and much more compact with an upright stance. I also see more consistency in various lines as well.
#7: Was there an animal that was the most influential in your beginning stock? F & J’s Cuddles, a Black doe with a Cimarron/ Statler / DJ’s pedigree behind her. I also had a chance to use Wetzel’s Cutting Edge, a Chestnut buck, on her as well as a few other does. Another buck was Cimarron Nazareth that I purchased from Gail Gibbons. MSC’s Jenga and Mossy Possum Eros were two more Chestnut bucks that I got good babies out of. Cimarron Taden was a nice Tort buck that we co-owned with Mossy Possum for an all too brief time that made nice babies for me. Wetzel’s Princess, Angelic Hares Destiny and Mossy Possum Cleopatra are a few of the does in the backgrounds of our current herd. Mossy Possum Cosmo, a Sable Point buck has had a big influence as well and I am hoping for one more round of babies out of him before he goes to his new home in Texas. Cimarron Mordor is here too now making babies and I have Pridelands and KP’s bunnies as well that were recently added. I could just keep going on & on-there were many rabbits that have contributed to our bunny barn. Each one unique and with their own personality.
#9: You received a new C.O. D. in (October? November?), 2007. Tell us what varieties you have on your certificate and why you chose these. Originally I had Black Tort, Blue Tort, Chestnut, Orange and Sable Point but I recently dropped the Black Tort and replaced it with Blue Point. The Black Torts are probably the strongest as far as type, and have enough people interested in them that I think they will make it thru the acceptance process without too much trouble. I loved the few Blue Points that appeared in various litters and thought that they would compliment the other varieties I had. Blue Tort is pretty common and the Sable points are just lovely to look at. Chestnut is not my favorite by any means, but I keep getting such nice animals in that variety that I have quite a few of them on hand. Orange is just a personal thing , I guess I just think that’s the most “lion like” color. In my mind the orange is a reddish gold animal, but we may see a lot of variation on it in the first few years. I think that the smut can be bred out of them, it will just take a few generations.
#10. It seems daunting to apply for a C.O. D. How long did it take between submitting your request for your C.O. D. to hearing back from the Standards Committee did it take to have it accepted? It was about two weeks after I sent my COD in that I heard back that it was accepted. I had Mike Avesing look it over for me to make sure I had everything covered. He also helped my with the Blue Point standard that recently replaced Tort in my COD. I think the standards committee is very willing to work with Lionhead breeders at this point.
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