Thursday, January 1, 2009

Baby Donkeys are Cuter Than Your Puppy

December-ish 2008

Don't believe me? Have you ever really, I mean really looked at a baby donkey? That's ok, I'm not ashamed to be in the minority in this respect.

A lot has happened since our first weekend as new landowners and my sudden and passionate obsession with babydoll sheep (which has now only slightly subsided). America held an historic election, the economy dissolved, my sister decided to move to San Francisco, Jeremy followed an apparent lifelong dream through a tractor purchase, and I ignored school and job completely (well that's not really new). Oh. And we got cows and donkeys.

Babydoll sheep obsession required some considerations, namely, the state of our fencing (piss poor), and the size of our local coyote population (surprisingly large). I learned more about only slightly larger animals, like dairy goats, fell briefly in love with this idea (will spare those details), researched necessary guard animals such as llamas (they spit. ew) donkeys (huh?) and great pyrenees (YES PLEASE). Jeremy's thoughtful reality check, which involved a gentle shoulder shaking and a "snap out of it!", helped me realize our first venture into farmhood might require something coyote proof - or might have to wait. WAIT?!? wait?&*^? Well, he didn't know me then. I was in too deep. Forget the fact that I was fast approaching the beginning of a rather busy spring semester of full time work and school, forget the fact that we were a bit, er, fiscally challenged. We had talked about getting animals for an ag exemption and we'd talked about it NOW. No sir. We'd just have to go with something bigger. Shoot, I could love something even bigger than a babydoll sheep. This began the "Great Cattle Discussion - 2008." Yes, it was that intense. Actually, it just involved Jer finding a picture of a longhorn steer, pointing, and stating "I want that," and Jenna saying, "Heck no man" but on repeat for 2 hours. Research led me to a smaller version of longhorns (much, much smaller, mind you) which we visited the following weekend. Jeremy's previously definitive stance in favor of an oversized, aggressive longhorn suddenly turned to mush, along with his knees, at the sight of a small, horned bull. To be frank, he hid behind me and asked to leave. And that was that for large-ish cattle. Google again led me to some amazing stuff. Notably - an eerily long haired, short breed called Scottish Highland, the Belted Galloway, and finally - the small and charming Irish Dexter. Irish Dexter!!!! But - I was partly Irish, and we are certain that parts of Jeremy's family passed through Ireland at some point. That was it! We would be an endearingly small Irish farm, with small Irish cattle and we'd establish a farm logo emblazoned with 4 leaf clovers and dancing leprechauns. No. Seriously, this is how my brain works. Deciding to deal with farm marketing much, much (never) further down the road, I was happy to find several Dexter cattle breeders relatively near us. The breed is small, incredibly small (about 40" at the shoulder) famously docile, and incredibly hardy. Also, they're what's called a "heritage" breed meaning that they are close to extinction and rely on small farmers to keep them around. Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle got me hooked on the idea of heritage animal breeds and if you're at all intrigued by that or eating locally, check out the book - it's amazing. But I digress.

In 3 days flat I'd located, negotiated prices and arranged delivery/pickup for 3 baby cattle and a guard donkey and her baby (Yes, a guard donkey for cattle is only slightly and maybe totally unnecessary, but I needed one, still) - which my friends pitched in to help pay for as my birthday present. You see - I am an oddity amongst friends but I believe they keep me around for the pure amusement factor I provide. While everyone else gets spa gift cards, I get a donkey, and everyone has a good laugh.

1 comment:

Nadya said...

Trickery! It appears, from afar, that the baby donkey loves you and is demonstrating this by nuzzling you. But upon closer inspection (that's how much free time I (think I) have), I noticed you appear to have something in your hands that you are preparing to give the baby donkey. So he/she doesn't in fact love you, he/she just wants you to give up the snack already. I hope it was gumdrops.