Guardian of the Herd
I was recently telling a fellow writer the plot of my first children’s book. It revolves around two best friends; Westley the sheep and Dribble the donkey. She proceeded to tell me how she read an article years ago about donkeys and sheep in Texas and I should look into it. You’ll never believe what I found.
Although Westley and Dribble’s story takes place in Ireland where sheep are practically famous, did you know Ireland isn’t even on the top ten list of countries that herd sheep? The top three countries are China (146.5 million), Australia (101.1 million), and India (62.1 million). As far as the United States goes, you can find most of our sheep farms in Texas and California. There are only 5.5 million sheep in the United States but 1 billion over the entire world!
Once I started researching more about sheep, donkeys, and, Texas, I found a very interesting article from 1989 in the LA Times. Farmers were starting to add a donkey to their herds of sheep and train them to become guardians of the herd. It turns out, donkeys naturally don’t like canines and who is a common predator among sheep farms? Coyotes.
Donkeys can kick fiercely and even bite to do damage to any creature who would try to hurt the herd. Much like friends would defend each other if they were in danger.
More recently, colleges have even been using donkeys to guard their herds of sheep for their agricultural programs such as the University of Rhode Island and Lincoln University’s Busby Farms.
It was so fascinating for me to see that Westley and Dribble’s friendship would be a real possibility if they stepped off the page and into our world.
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