Doing the Bunny Hop to success

Wellington's Lexie Miller includes her French Lop rabbits in her high school senior photos.

Marty Metzger
mmetzger@northfortnews.com

Poudre High School senior Lexie Miller is undeniably a professional multitasker, likely because the 18-year-old was raised with a staunch work ethic.

Miller’s parents, Bryant and Tatty Miller, operate a Red Angus cow-calf ranch northwest of Wellington. Lexie Miller and younger brother, Carson, grew up doing what most ranch kids do: working with animals and being active in 4-H. The family’s Angus steers were the siblings’ logical initial projects, but eventually rabbits hopped into their lives.

Lexie Miller’s French Lop rabbits, are drawing interest from prospective buyers nationwide and overseas. Photo courtesy of Patty Miller

In 2011, then 11-year-old Lexie acquired three Holland Lops. Those twitchy-nosed newcomers didn’t have the hutches to themselves for long, however, before a breeding pair of French Lops jumped onto the scene in 2012. Carson’s interest waned after just a year, while Lexie’s ambition grew as fast as did the bunny head count.

Miller described French Lops as a large breed that tips the scales at 12 or more pounds. A docile personality and adorably large, lopping ears make them an ideal pet rabbit. A penchant for playing like dogs with toys ranging from stuffed animals to baby key rings compounds their cuteness.

Originally designed as meat rabbits, French Lops’ large bone structure accounts for much of their size/weight. Luckily for these rabbits’ feet—and other body parts—that saving grace changed their destiny from dinner entree to loving owner’s living lap robe.

Miller maintains a well-thought-out business plan. She only breeds individuals not currently in line to show, and those only every few months on a specific rotation. Baby bunnies are sold as soon as weaned. Miller currently averages 25 adult show rabbits and breeders.

This young entrepreneur expects more from her extracurricular efforts than just a few hobby dollars and some pretty blue ribbons. She has spent an impressive amount of time and energy researching rabbit genetics to produce the best possible French Lops. Miller has her own research/business website, frenchlopshop.wixsite.com/frenchlops, which she designed herself. From web inquiries and at shows, she’s sold bunnies to buyers in eight states.

“It’s going very well,” Miller proudly reported. “So far I’ve had interest from all over the U.S., plus Canada, Indonesia and Mexico.”

Wellington’s Lexie Miller includes one of her prize-winning French Lop rabbits in a senior photo. Photo by Amber Hofmann Photography

She began competing at American Rabbit Breeders Association (ARBA) shows in 2012. Points earned in their all-breed classes specifically accrue for her French Lop breed club’s youth division. During each year-long season, Miller travels to ARBA regional events in Colorado and Wyoming, as well as farther afield to national shows in Portland, Oregon; Bel Mar, California; Reno, Nevada;; Indianapolis, Indiana; and a few in Kansas and Nebraska.

For local and regional competitions, Miller needs to head out only an hour or two before her scheduled classes. Since all shows begin at 8 a.m., this means a flurry of activity in the morning’s wee hours to prepare the animals and their equipment for travel.

The farther the show, the bigger the logistical challenges. Miller leaves a few days ahead for national competitions, and, because most motels don’t allow rabbits in their rooms, limits rest stops to just a couple hours of shut-eye before heading back out on the road.

Like baby bunnies, Miller’s pursuits are prolific. In addition to competing with her rabbits nationwide, 2018 will be her fourth year showing Red Angus market steers at the Larimer County Fair. She’s currently president of both the “Cinch ‘Em Up” 4-H Club and Poudre High School’s FFA Chapter. As if all that, school, and maintaining her French Lop website aren’t enough, she works part-time at Safeway.

Sadie Nelson, Co-Advisor of Poudre High’s FFA, helped Miller apply for an FFA State Degree and an FFA Proficiency Award in Small Animal Production. Nelson is quite impressed with Miller’s diligence.

“Lexie is a well-rounded young lady who excels at leading an organization,” the advisor proclaimed.

Her family’s Red Angus steers were Lexie Miller’s original 4-H projects.

While many 4-H kids giddily cavort around the grounds or midway during down times at annual county fairs, the wildest memories Miller could personally recall were a couple of water bottle fights and prolonged lounging in hammocks.

Miller described herself, “I’m pretty serious; I don’t goof around much.”

Just the type whose goals are always clear and present, she will advance to the French Lops Open Division when she turns 19. Regardless of her career or personal paths, no doubt Lexie Miller will “hop to it” with each new opportunity that presents itself.

 

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