Add to My MSN

Guard Donkeys

11/3/2008 11:10:00 AM

Tags:

Jack the jack

Kate and I have now gone beyond toying with the idea of adding sheep to our growing collection of farm animals. You might notice a theme here … all the animals, including the pigs and the chickens, make a significant part of their living through foraging. Our place grows native and near-native forages very well, and we aim to make use of that.

Mark Smith, a friend and soil conservation guru from Ohio, is the person who turned me on to management intensive grazing, many years ago now. Mark is a sheep guy who also keeps a few head of cattle … he always said that the sheep and cattle were complementary grazers. What that means is that the sheep and cattle can be run over the same ground, in the same grazing cycle, and they will take advantage of different stuff in the ungulate salad bar known as pasture. Kate and I have thought about adding sheep before, but dealing with shearing and the like kept us from doing it.

Another friend, Bryan Welch, raises meat goats, sheep and cattle on his grass farm here in Kansas. Bryan introduced us to hair sheep … that’s right, sheep that shed their hair in the summer ... so we decided to go ahead and pull the trigger. Bryan has a sweet Katahdin ram with our name on it, just as soon as we get a few ewes and beef (mutton?) up the fences.

Since our place in Osage County is pretty thick with coyotes, no matter how good I get the fences to be, we wanted to have some guardian animals in place before the sheep arrived. Bryan swears by donkeys as guardians, and indeed we were quickly captivated by his donkeys, so it was really a no-brainer to go looking for a donkey or two to guard our eventual flock. Bryan also convinced us that it was perfectly fine to keep a jack and a jenny … that’s exactly what he does.

Valentine the jenny

So, after a bit of searching, we settled on an older jack named Jack and a young jenny named Valerie, and with Bryan’s help brought them to the farm last Wednesday. Kate renamed Valerie … she is now Valentine. Both animals are friendly and seem well adapted to life in Osage County and the cattle. It is pretty comical to see them get after our dogs, but in a good way.

Valentine Headshot

I strung about a half mile of fence over the weekend. It is good enough for cows and donkeys, but not for sheep. We’ll get there eventually, but I need to build the chicken house and finish up the pig palace first.

Photos courtesy of Kate, the camera queen, Will.


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 .



Related Content

Another Spring on the Homestead

It's another spring on the homestead ... time passes so quickly.

Bear And The Goats

Peeper, the Nigerian Dwarf goat, and Bear, the livestock guardian, try to get along.

I've been stung!

With over 100,000 species in the wasp family, the names and identification can be confusing. The sim...

Our Unorthodox Guard Llama: A Humorous Tale

The humorous story of a family’s attempt at sheep protection using guard llamas.

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 

Richard Collins_2
11/5/2008 9:38:56 PM
I recently heard that a Grit reader had written to inquire about a pattern for a traditional quilt referred to as "The McDonald quilt." I cannot find that inquiry on-line. I have such a quilt made by my grandmother which is known to have been a family pattern for more than 100 years. This particular quilt also is known in the family as "The Beauty of Burke's Garden." I would like to get in touch with that person in order to share the pattern. Upon inquiry, I would be happy to send a picture of the quilt, preferably as an Email attachment and then, upon confirmation that it is the quilt in question, to attempt providing the pattern. Richard Collins

Hank Will_1
11/3/2008 3:57:00 PM
They are really something, Bryan. I wonder what adventure you will get us into next.

Bryan Welch
11/3/2008 1:23:19 PM
Love those curly-burly burros!



Pay Now & Save 50% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Live The Good Life with Grit!

For more than 125 years, Grit has helped its readers live more prosperously and happily while emphasizing the importance of community and a rural lifestyle tradition. In each bimonthly issue, Grit includes helpful articles, humorous and inspiring articles, captivating photos, gardening and cooking advice, do-it-yourself projects and the practical reader advice you would expect to find in America’s premier rural lifestyle magazine.

Get your guide to living outside the city limits delivered straight to your mailbox. Subscribe to Grit today!  Simply fill in your information below to receive 1 year (6 issues) of Grit for only $19.95!

SPECIAL BONUS OFFER!

At Grit, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to Grit through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of Grit for only $14.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of Grit for just $19.95!