Grit Blogs > The Daily Commute

Animal Babies: New Life In Osage County Kansas

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief

Tags: sheep, cattle, donkeys, farms,

On my Osage County farm, new life fuels cycles and establishes seasonal rhythms. With early spring, new life arrives as green grass and poultry. Once the grass is plentiful new life appears as lambs begin to drop and then the calves. This morning we experienced an especially compelling treat –Valentine, our female donkey surprised us with a spindly, wet, awkward bundle of joy. I don't know why Valentine chose the dusty corral as for birthing...

Donkey Foal

That's not where dinner's located!

Hank's Donkey Foal

Wet and wobbly.

Heifer Highland Calf

Nothing like starting out the day with a good breakfast.

Katahdin Triplets

Only two dinner plates for three mouths.

Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .

6/13/2010 8:40:17 PM

How's that little baby doing now? I sure miss watching a little donkey grow up. Ruby is such a sweetie. She loves to be hugged and follows us all over the place. I think she would follow me into the house if I let her! Be sure to handle that baby as much as possible and it will be like a puppy dog! Keep us posted and good luck!

hank will_2
6/2/2010 3:16:48 PM

Hey Dave -- I haven't eaten donkey, but I would never say I wouldn't if I got desparate enough. The donkeys are here to harass the packs of coyotes that roam this territory -- and they provide endless entertainment. So far we've not lost a chicken or lamb to coyotes since they've been here. The sheep are hair sheep and so we raise them for meat and the cattle are beef cattle. Right now we are keeping back females with flock or herd potential, but the bull calves and ram lambs will provide high-quality protein when the time comes. One ram lamb from this year is likely to become a flock ram -- he is big, blocky and very masculine, just like George. His markings are striking too: black with white spots arranged in interesting patterns. He's named Constellation because of his markings -- we just call him Connie though.

nebraska dave
6/2/2010 2:57:18 PM

Hank, new life is always special on the farm. Surprise ones are even more special. It is interesting where animals pick to have there young. We once had a litter of pups under the house. They keep yelping and keeping us awake at night. Finally my Dad crawled under the house and found that there had been an old well that was now dry under the house and the newly born pups had fallen into the pit where momma couldn’t reach them. He brought them out from under the house and all was once again good with the world. I’m not sure what ever happen to those pups, but I’d like to think they were given away. They were Cocker Spaniels mixed with we didn’t know what. Hazel was my first dog as a kid and these pups were the first babies that I can remember being born on the farm. My Mom says that I was probably about three years old when that happened. Good luck with all you newly arrived animals. Do you raise your animals for some other purpose than pets? I seem to remember a blog post that hinted to the fact of grass fed beef in the freezer.

hank will_2
6/2/2010 1:56:35 PM

Hey Jackie -- We haven't figured out whether the newcomer is a Jack or Jenny yet. I just moved our Jack and George the ram out of Valentine's paddock this morning and then watched the little one suck from a distance before heading off to work. Valentine and the little one are with the ewes and lambs now and Karen texted me to say that they are frolicking together. Cool, eh? Jack is complaining a little about being separated from Valentine, but he and George get along great.

6/2/2010 1:07:42 PM

How awesome to see Valentine with her own baby!! So exciting! What a it a jenny or a jack? Valentine's sister, Ruby is still doing great out here on our farm with the goats! Good luck! --Jackie Wilt