Guard Donkeys

| 11/3/2008 11:10:00 AM

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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

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!

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