When Angelina and Mia Orozco’s litter of rabbits were born, they were about the width of two fingers, and small enough to sit in the palm of one of their hands.
Now, on the eve of the Victoria Livestock Show, the sisters have raised 17 animals from small kittens to show-ready rabbits weighing just under 5 pounds each.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” said Angelina, 12, a fifth grader at Aloe Elementary. She and Mia, 9, are getting ready for their second year showing rabbits at the Victoria Livestock Show.
They’ve spent the past few months raising their rabbits, feeding and watering them every day, cleaning their cages, clipping their toenails, checking their ears for dust mites, and keeping them warm and covered during the colder winter nights.
As the girls raise the rabbits, they’re looking for qualities that will make them competitive at the livestock show. Are the rabbits similar in size, shape and color? Are their legs short? Are they the right weight?
Along with raising the litters, the sisters care for four bucks and eight doe year round. This year, the does had 17 rabbits between them, giving each Orozco sister plenty of options to choose three rabbits and an alternate to bring to the livestock show.
It’s this process — watching the rabbits transform from small lumps of fur into a grown animal — that Angelina and Mia’s favorite part of participating in the livestock show and being a part of Shotgun 4-H Club.
“You get to see them grow,” Mia said. “And you get to pet them and hold them.”
The sisters, daughters of Bernard Orozco and Misty Green, are participating in the livestock show along with their brother Brayden, 13, who is showing chickens. Brayden, a seventh grader at Patti Welder, is also participating in the Victoria Livestock Show for the second year.
All three are learning from their dad, who raised pigs as a teenager in Edna and showed them at the Jackson County Livestock Show. Orozco said he was glad his kids were getting the same opportunities he did to learn about hard work and responsibility.
“It's a year 'round chore,” Orozco said. “It’s like having a dog or having a cat — it’s not just, ‘I don’t want to walk today, or I don’t want to clean up after it today,’ it’s year 'round. And it’s not one, it’s many."