Rabbits are a big hit with children at Savage library


April 16, 1999|By Lourdes Sullivan | Lourdes Sullivan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WENDY FEAGA and Anne Becka came to the Savage library yesterday to show rabbits to children.

The Feagas have a farm in Glenelg, and Wendy Feaga, daughters Heather and Laura, and Becka are involved in the Hare Raisers, a 4-H Club that raises rabbits to show and sell.

Wendy Feaga and Becka are co-leaders.

Feaga is a veterinarian in private practice near Glenelg. Becka, of Jessup, is a computer programmer who soon will be studying to become a Lutheran minister.

Together they brought animals, samples of feed, water bottles and cages to the library to show children how to care for rabbits. About 65 people, mostly children, attended.

Wendy Feaga allowed a large New Zealand Red buck -- the color of an Irish setter with brown eyes -- wander around the room.

"He minded his manners," she said.

The buck's 1-day-old litter -- nine bunnies -- lay in a nest box. The children could see but not touch them.

Becka brought a Jersey Wooly and its three babies to show.

The babies are 5 weeks old and the size of an adult's hand. Feaga held one of the babies while the children petted it.

Feaga said she hypnotized the Red by putting his ears straight up and stroking his stomach.

"He lay on his back with all four feet in the air," said Michele Hunter, a part-time children's programmer at the library. "It was really funny to watch him."

When rabbits are hypnotized, Feaga said, "they close their eyes, and they're kind of in a trance."

She said she tried not to let the children breathe on or touch the rabbit, for fear of waking him. But they all gathered around.

The program was organized by Rita Snyder, another children's programmer at the library.

Hare Raisers 4-H Club has 20 members, ranging in age from 6 to 16.

Laura Feaga, 16, is the oldest member. She has been active in the club for 10 years, but her mother said Laura has attended meetings since she was 2, when she got her first rabbit, Pepper.

Wendy Feaga said that when Laura was a baby, she took her into the barn in her baby carrier to see the rabbits. Feaga hung the carrier on a hook so Laura could watch the rabbits being fed.

Laura, now a student at River Hill High School, breeds and sells rabbits. She has appeared in a video -- "What Do Rabbits Say?" -- made for the Calvert School in Baltimore.

Laura said her favorite breed is the Holland Lop, a small, usually multicolored rabbit with a sweet disposition and ears that droop.

She often has several for sale when she exhibits at the Howard County Fair. Selling them is a good source of pocket money.

There are expenses associated with maintaining the 16 hutches Laura uses in raising her rabbits, but fortunately for her, her father, Howie Feaga, is a farmer. Because he trades some of his crops for animal feed, Laura gets the rabbit food as part of the trade.

Heather Feaga, 13, also raised rabbits for a while. Now she is more interested in photography but is still involved in agricultural pursuits: She helps out on the farm and she takes crop samples to the county fair for exhibits.

Wendy Feaga said Karen Becka, 16, Anne's daughter, got her mother involved in the club.

Karen, a junior at Seton Keough High School in Baltimore, now is more interested in music and plays the flute, although the rabbits remain a part of her life. The Beckas keep about 20 rabbits in their back yard and sell them for pets and to show.

Karen said the Jersey Woolys are "little puffs of fluff."

Ice in spring

Hard to believe, with the warm weather and the mild winter just past, that Hammond High School fields an ice hockey team.

The playing season is over, and the joint Atholton-Hammond team excelled.

This year, the team was 9-1 and first-place winner in the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League's Howard County Division.

Congratulations to David Potsiadio, Dan Curry, Jason Milke, Emily Embrey and Jason Morstein.

Good work

The Interact club at Hammond High is setting its sights on a new project.

Until now, the 80-member service organization has engaged in several successful charity drives. Interact has donated new toys worth more than $350 to the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center. The group has held blanket drives, change drives and other brief campaigns.

Now the club is ready to take on a more difficult challenge. Interact is creating a partnership with fifth-graders at Guilford Elementary School to establish "BookKids," a reading club.

Not far removed from fifth-grade themselves, the high school students know the value of reading for pleasure.

It's a terrific project, but they need to raise some money.

The club plans to cover the cost of books for the program, as well as help out in the 1999-2000 school year. But it's a large undertaking, so the club is asking for help.

Those wanting to offer aid should call the Interact club at Hammond High -- 410-313-7620 -- and ask for staff adviser Samina Chaudhry.

The club can use fund-raising ideas, cash and volunteers. A matching program from employers would be an excellent way to add to a donation.

The idea of the project is to help kids help other kids on the road to reading.

Free immunizations

The Howard County Health Department will offer free vaccinations from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. May 19 at Hammond High School.

Parents or guardians should bring records of their children's previous immunizations.

Information: 410-880-5888.

Pub Date: 4/16/99

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