Britain's best loved rabbit magazine...
I fell in love with rabbits at the age of nine, my first pet being a crossbred Dutch before discovering the wonderful world of exhibition rabbits, where more than five hundred varieties are recognised by the British Rabbit Council.
What's your favourite? Follow our photos to the link to see monthly downloads of popular fancy, lop, fur and rex breeds.
What's mine? Â I have to admit, I love them all. Here I'm cuddling three fairly recent newcomers, the Miniature Rex in Orange, Ermine and Otter. At a top weight of 2.041kg they're easy to house, feed and handle, a great favourite with the ladies.
Please pay us a regular visit, as each month I'll be bringing you up to date with bunny topics...
A major part of our British heritage for more than two hundred years, agricultural events such asÂ Bakewell, East of England, Great Yorkshire,Â New Forest & Hampshire, Suffolk, Gillingham/Shaftesbury and the Three Counties provide a huge shop window where we can showcase our hobby.
Without the agricultural societies staging a few classes in their show schedules for rabbits, cavies, poultry and cage birds all those years ago, perhaps the fancy may never have been created.
John Edward (Ted) Watmough of Bradford was one of those early rabbit and cage-bird exhibitors and I like to think of him as the true creator of "The Fancy" . It was a courageous decision to gambleÂ his modest savings into producing a newspaper which became known as "Fur & Feather",Â the world's longest running livestock publication .
In his weekly newspaper Mr J E WatmoughÂ provided show news and advertisementsÂ to his readers thus encouraging the formation of hundreds of fur and feather societies.
Looking through the yellowing and fragile pages of one of Watmough's 1890 newspapers, I see that rabbit classes were a big attraction at such well known agricultural events as the Wolsingham & Wear Valley Agricultural (described as "the oldest show in the north),Â Driffield, Derbyshire Agricultural,Â Bingley,Â Bakewell, the "Great Yorkshire Show"Â and many more.
Nowadays our rabbit Clubs and the agricultural events teams work hard to maintain high exhibition standards and a good working relationship with the agricultural societies. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen,Â long may you continue to provide us with so much pleasure!
So as Eddie (the Hutch) our writer-in-residence was travelling to judge in the West Country recently I hitched a lift in his camper van to re- visit one of my favourite agriculturals, the Devon County Show ( Westpoint, Exeter, 17, 18 & 19 May, results and photos in this issue).
As a curtain raiser to the start of the agricultural showing season across the South West, this event is organised by the Devon County Agricultural Association which has been established for 140 years.
There were around five hundred stands at this 2012 event selling anything from life insurance to teapots, but it was the parade of sheep, pigs, goats, alpacas, heavy horses and cattle that provided a feast of entertainment for animal lovers.
Four marquees containing poultry, cavies, pigeons and rabbits also attracted huge crowds escaping from first-day showers; one attraction was the touch-and-feel rabbit display and also a friendly information stand where visitors could ask questions and pick up BRC leaflets, even old copies of Fur & Feather.
Next stop was the 235th Royal Bath & West Show, the jewel in the West Country's jubilation crown and setting the scene for the jubilee weekend.
More than 150,000 people visited the Shepton Mallet showground offering another golden opportunity to welcome new fanciers as they were welcomed to the fur and feather balcony to chat rabbits, cavies and all things fluffy and feathery. (See this issue for photos.)
Before visiting the fur and feather balcony I wandered round the vast showground and watchedÂ cows actually milking themselves!
30 dairy cows spent a week at the show taking themselves off to be milked whenever they felt the need, demonstrating the 21st century face of farming where science and technology are ingeniously harnessed to address the demanding issues of expensive labour costs and theÂ long hours required to run a dairy.
The show's press officer explained: "This new system has given many small, family-run dairy farmers a future".Â However, visiting the Suffolk Show last month later a dairy farmer disagreed, pointing out that it could be a calamity if the technologyÂ broke down when dairy workers were no longer employed. I could see his point.
One agricultural event you will find sadly missing from the show advertising pages of Fur & Feather is the Royal Lancashire Show, which claimed to be the oldest agricultural society in Britain having staged its first event in 1767.
For many years this had been a popular rabbit event for Lancashire's fanciers; then a wet summer forced abandonment of the 2007 event, only the second time since World War 11.
Disastrous weather struck again in 2008, thenÂ traffic management concerns and site access problems left the Society with no option but to abandon the 2009 show.
The Society admitted that it was left in a precarious financial position and mothballed the show in 2010 and again in 2011.
This year (May) an event did take place. It was called the Countryside Experience, the Show Director explaining that the "Experience" would not even be a quarter of the size of the old "Lancs".Â Fortunately the weather held but although livestock was on show there were no rabbits to interest Jo Public..
Perhaps with the help of some enthusiastic local fanciers or a club a rabbit display will return to the Royal, if so do keep us posted!
So far the summer agricultural shows have been a disappointing washout, with extremely windy conditions and heavy rain a feature of the Royal Cornwall (Dizzy has promised us a report next month), the South of England and the Suffolk which for the first time ever was forced to cancel its second day.
So let's keep our fingers crossed for a fine summer and bumper entries at these wonderful agriculturals - just remember, unless we support them we'll lose our vital link to the rabbit loving public.
Thanks to some great contributions in this issue from our regulars and new readers, plus those all-important show photographs. However, we do need more of your articles, news and features to maintain a bumper magazine so please write or email us soon.
Enjoy the shows.