Sunday, November 22, 2009

Another Crazy Idea?

You just never know what you will find on Craigslist. Yesterday Cadence found a listing for two young water buffalo heifers for sale.

Yes, water buffalo. And she almost has me convinced that a couple of water buffalo would be wonderful livestock for our tiny Minnesota farm. Water buffalo are gentle, hardy and give very rich milk, ideal for making mozarella cheese [In Italy, mozarella cheese traditionally is made made from buffalo milk], which would fit well in our pizza farm venture - but more about that in a future post. These water buffalo were from a petting zoo and the owner said they were extremely tame and friendly. So today, Cadence and I drove three hours to see them. By the third hour of driving we were wondering why we were spending our entire day on what was probably a wild goose chase...
We were expecting a midwest farm-sort-of-petting-zoo - perhaps a pumpkin patch where kids could touch baby goats and sheep. We were taken aback to drive into the farm yard and see a camel. When we met the owner, Kevin, and told him we didn't expect to find a camel he asked if we had seen the giraffe!
He took us into a very high barn that opened out into a large yard where a giraffe was out enjoying the unseasonably mild November day.
When he saw us, the giraffe came over to the the fence and leaned down for a treat. How magical to feed a giraffe a cookie!

I wondered whether the giraffe was full-grown or would get even taller (I estimate he was about 15 feet). The farmer said he expects -and hopes-he grows another foot or more, or he would have saved a lot of expense by not having to build the building so high.
We stopped to meet the camels. There were three, but this one was the friendliest. His nose was velvety soft and he seemed to crave being petted. In the summer Kevin takes the camels to county fairs and gives camel rides. This time of year the camels appear in some nativity pageants.
I asked Kevin how he got started in this business. He said he had a pet raccoon as a kid, then a second raccoon, and it grew into this. He obviously loves animals and they all seem to be extremely well-cared-for, calm and gentle.

He had many other unusual animals, including capybaras, kookooburras, an African eagle owl, Jacob sheep, llamas, an ostrich, the most darling baby bison, and this zedonk (a cross between a zebra and donkey.)
We were totally smitten with the sweet water buffalo heifers and now will have to contemplate whether this crazy idea is the right move for us.


katiegirl said...

Oh my goodness!! How cool! I got to pet a baby camel at a fair once, and it was sooo soft! I say get the heifers and try it out! What would you breed them too? A beef bull?

Susan Tomlinson said...

OK, the zedonk freaked me out a little. But I say go for it on the water buffalo.

Every year for Christmas, in lieu of gifts, Walu's family and we (as in he and I) draw names, and then we give animals to villages in those names as part of the Heifer Project. We like giving water buffaloes. Or goats. Sometimes pigs. But mostly water buffaloes.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions.

Marie said...

how cool -- try 'em, can't be any worse than wandering cows !