By Dharampreet Dhillon
Have you ever heard about the people who love donkeys more than horses? Who think donkeys are cute? Who thinks donkeys are worth more than to just haul things around?
Kim Bowie and Shanna Jones are the few people that consider donkeys to be more than haulers. Both sisters come from Scottish heritage. They are always ready to talk about miniature donkeys and love to spend their time on their farm. The venture between local and a city girl is very interesting. While Shanna hosts the donkeys, sister Kim has become training & showing partner.
How Kim Bowie, a city girl found her love of donkeys? What were the things which took her to a farm house from a big city?
“Donkeys are amazing little creatures,” said Kim Bowie owner L’Lass Miniature Donkeys in a face to face interview. “They’re wonderful animals to just hang out with.”
A farm located in Rocky View County, Alberta is the place where you can find little donkeys walking, running or playing in the big ground and simply living life.
Her sister, who lives on John’s Hereford Ranch, one of the ancient and old ranches in Alberta has always wanted to raise donkeys, and they decided that it would be a nice thing to do together as sisters.
“I’m a city girl, and I was excited to start learning more about them,” she said. “They’re great jumpers, and they also pull us in carts.”
There are so many breeds of donkeys. Miniature donkeys which Kim and Shanna own are a distinctive breed. They’re not miniaturized from a larger donkey, they possess different genetics than the standard donkeys. There are the three sizes of donkeys that are available in North America.
Donkeys are new to North America, they didn’t come here until the early 1900s. And they originally came into Alberta, to work in mines. They can pull about 300 pounds, about their weight behind them. And they’re also small enough to get into mines easily. The working donkey in North America didn’t last for very long. They became pleasure animals fairly quickly.
Kim loves to train her donkeys. It is a challenge to train any kind of animal, the challenge of teaching them, to do obstacles to get them jumping, to build trust between them.
“They’re just really gentle, loving animals,” she said. “There’s no better feeling than walking into a field of donkeys and having them surround you looking curious about who you are if you’re new to them.”
Her sister Shanna Jones, who’s a rancher, helped her to build a confidence in raising donkeys and the rural life.
“She grew up in the city most of her life and she found it an incredible challenge to be able to be a part of a rural endeavor,” said Jones in a face to face interview.
Lots of people that have donkeys also have horses. If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy getting on top of a horse and riding it, owning a donkey is a great substitute.
Donkeys tend to get along with horses very well. Racing horses often will have a donkey’s companionship to keep them calm since they differ nature. Donkeys are very calm animals, while horses on the other hand, especially high-performance horses, can get spooked easily and be high strung.
Kim owns a breeding herd of Jenny’s (female donkey) and she sells some of the babies every year and sells adult animals as well. Sometimes they sell female donkeys who are breeders and produce foals. They also have two intact males, the breeders. Sometimes other donkeys come in and pay to use their studs.
“It’s really more an endeavor of love, than it is of profits,” she said. “You’re never going to get rich by raising donkeys.”
Stampede provides a chance to people of Calgary, to learn about the miniature donkeys. Kim comes to stampede every year with her donkeys. She loves to tell other people about her donkeys.
There’s an obvious division between urban and rural people. Almost everyone buys their food comes from grocery store like Safeway but they don’t have a proper understanding of where their food comes from, where animals come from, what animals are used for. Events like Stampede helps to narrow that difference.
I’ve developed a real passion for them. And I love sharing that with other people. – Bowie.
Kim and Shanna started raising donkeys in 2010 in Shanna’s family farm under the name L’Lass Miniature Donkeys. “Lass” is the Scottish term for young girl, and L’Lass is an abbreviation for “Little Lass,” which is also a perfect description of the small female donkeys.