4-H member Hannah Remington clearly loves her Himalayan rabbit, but the bunny is a lot more than just a pet. Hannah has also learned how to be a competitor and a businesswoman from breeding and selling her rabbits, which she will show during 4-H competitions at the North Dakota State Fair.
"Oh, I love showmanship," said Hannah, who will turn 11 on July 22, a day when she will be showing both rabbits and poultry at the fair, which starts on Friday.
Her mom, Laurel Grams, said the family will bring a birthday cake to the fairgrounds for Hannah to enjoy, even though it will be a working birthday. This year the family will bring a camper to the fairgrounds since kids often have to stay there for long stretches when they are showing. Grams said they will appreciate the fair more this year since it was canceled last year due to the flood.
Andrea Johnson/MDN • 4-H member Hannah Remington shows off her rabbit Twilight. Hannah breeds and shows rabbits and also shows poultry. She will compete this year at the North Dakota State Fair.
Hannah isn't the kind of kid who likes to just sit around, anyway. She first saw the Himalayan rabbits at a show about two years ago and decided this was the breed she wanted to specialize in. They aren't as common in North Dakota as they are in other states, but Hannah likes the way they look.
To get the look she wants, including the colors on the ears that mark the rabbit as a "black" or a "lilac," she has to breed the right male to the right female.
"You can't breed blue to lilac or you'll flourish it," she explained. Breeding a "black" to a "lilac" means the rabbits will either have "black" or "lilac" markings.
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Sometimes a breeder like Hannah might set up a special meeting with another rabbit breeder to breed a female to another breeder's male rabbit, but Hannah said it's usually best for her to own both the father and the mother. Since rabbits breed like, well rabbits, that also requires her to keep the males in a separate pen from the female rabbits.
She's also chosen to name her rabbits after characters from Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" book series, a theme which her mom said attracts some interest from buyers.
"Her father is Edward and her mother is Bella," explained Hannah, who named Twilight the rabbit after the entire book and movie series.
Breeding rabbits also has taught Hannah some business and marketing skills, since she sells some of the rabbits to other 4-H members. She usually keeps the picks of the litter and uses them to help establish the best possible line. She wants the people who buy her rabbits to be happy and to think they are the best rabbits around and great pets.
Hannah has also shown her rabbits at American Rabbit Breeders shows in other states, including Indiana, Minnesota and Kansas. When she's showing her rabbits, Hannah said she always makes a point of chatting with the people who stop by her booth. Being friendly is a big part of salesmanship.
When she shows her rabbits at the State Fair, Hannah knows that the judges will be watching both her and the rabbit. She works with her rabbits beforehand so they are accustomed to being posed and to being handled by people. Twilight is docile and is willing to let Hannah pose her long body. Some of the rabbits Hannah has had are not as docile and that requires some caution when it's feeding time.
Hannah also enjoys displaying poultry during the 4-H shows and has won awards for showmanship. She also has done other 4-H projects, including an herb garden. She chose herbs for the herb garden based on scents and has different herbs such as mint and lavender in the "Statics" exhibit.
Hannah's mom, Laurel Grams, said her children have learned a lot from being in 4-H: business and leadership skills, public speaking, responsibility. Hannah belongs to the Des Lacs Star Beef club, which meets for an afternoon once a month or so. It has members from Minot as well as the Des Lacs area.
Hannah, who has been a 4-H member since she started elementary school, said she's interested in a business career too. 4-H has helped her develop skills that will serve her well in any career she chooses.