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March 25, 2007

Grangeville Couple Trades in Horses for Donkeys

By Kristi Kingma

Liberty & Dev going for a drive down a country road

Luc transported a Grand Marshals

In February 2007 we were contacted by a reporter who was interested in a story about our farm. “Whell of course”, we replied, “Come out and bring your daughter!” Lorie Palmer, Community Editor for the Idaho County Free Press, Idaho’s oldest weekly newspaper drove out to meet Dev, Liberty and Lucers. Lorie needed to write a story for the Farm and Ranch Agricultural Special Edition.

They arrived in a damp gloomy grayish fog, not only from the weather but from preconceived notions that donkeys are stubborn and stupid. Oh whell, Lorie had already decided, they would never be able to get close to them and that it didn't anyway she was probably going to just write something humorous and get it over with.

First off the boys could not wait to meet her and her darling little daughter… While Dev and Liberty were busy checking out Hailey, Luc saw his opportunity. He gently reached over to take Lorie’s camera case off her shoulder. Luc is thinking…oh boy, don't know what it is but it must be for me! Lorie was a little startled to say the least!

After introductions all around Jim and I hand led the boys to a less muddy spot in the pasture. Now getting everyone in position took some good ole driving cues. Liberty back, Dev over, Luc…. Luc… LUC… get back over here and leave Hailey alone! The photo session was fun the boys were on their best (?) behavior except Luc who was pouting because he couldn't be next to the cute little girl. Of course when we left their mucky domain they followed us to the house and Lorie was dually impressed with them wanting to be with us every step of the way!

Luc had statically placed his rubber feeding mat so he could pull it into the pasture at just the right moment. As we walked towards the house Luc had the mat in his mouth and was looking for a victim. Liberty took the bait! They proceeded to entertain Lorie and Hailey with games of keep away and tug of war. Lorie loved it and Hailey got the giggles!

When we finally settled into the interview I think Lorie pretty much threw away her questions and we talked “donk” for almost two hours while Hailey played with Ardie, the Corgie, and our collection of stuffed donkeys. Hailey loved our talking Shriek donkey and gave it a real good workout!

Before leaving it was back to the fence to say goodbye to the boys, feed them more treats which of course they hated giving Lorie another photo opportunity.

Here is the story as picked up by the Capitol Press, The West’s Ag Site weekly newspaper 2/23/2007 and. Published in the Idaho County Free Press Special Ag Edition and The Brayer. Reprinted here with permission.

Kingma’s trade in horses for donkeys
By Lorie Palmer
Idaho County Free Press

GRANGEVILLE - "Nothing is safe when a donkey is around," laughed Kristi Kingma as she watched two of her three donkeys tug on a rubber mat. Kristi and her husband, Jim, literally did a 180-degree turn a few years back.

"We had just lost a German Shepherd dog, our watchdog," Kristi recalled. "We had our quarter horse colts and wanted some type of guard protection." When Kristi was discussing this with her daughter, Mitzi, who was at the time attending college in Texas, Mitzi suggested a donkey. "'Most everyone here in Texas uses a donkey as a guard,' Mitzi told me," relayed Kristi.

After much research via the Internet, Jim and Kristi were invited to visit a ranch in Montana where they were introduced to donkeys ... and they never looked back. "A lot of people we knew thought this was really weird, because we'd been horse people - I had horses all my life," Kristi laughed. "I grew up around mules, but horses were really my thing." "We found that donkeys are much, much easier," Jim stated.

The Kingmas purchased a Large Standard Donkey, Luc, who became the first of their working pets. Next came Dev, a Mammoth donkey, and then Liberty, also a Mammoth. All are geldings - neutered males. A walk outside or a drive up the Kingma's farm lane, located about five miles outside of Grangeville, causes the trio of donkeys to run - not from the vehicle or person, but toward them. "They are very intelligent, curious and they absolutely love people," Kristi said, as the three clamored for attention. The Kingmas said if they had to start over again in the farming/ranching business, they would definitely "go with donkeys." "The way our donkeys react is attributed to a lot of hard work and training, but it has been a joy," Kristi said, telling the three to "back up," as they amiably do as she says. "Donkeys are born without a job," Jim said. "They have to be given one." The Kingmas have made sure the donkeys have jobs - from trail rides and cart-pulling to shows and fairs where they have won awards and transported grand marshals.

Jim's full-time job is as the bookkeeper for Primeland bulk plant in Grangeville, but he spends much of his time farming the land (cereal grain crops and hay) where he grew up and is involved with the Snowhaven Ski Patrol. Kristi has worked for 12 years at Quality Heating and Air Conditioning. The couple live on the Kingma family farm where Jim was raised. "He loves it here," Kristi said. "And so do I." The couple's only daughter is now married and living in Omaha, Neb. "I have told Mitzi, 'the donkeys are your inheritance,'" laughed Kristi. "They can live 40 to 50 years if they're well taken care of, so it's not really a joke." The farm is complete with a long-haired Corgi, Ardie, and a handful of barn cats. "The time I spend with the donkeys is very soothing," Kristi admitted. "After a hard day I find it very relaxing to be with them, to have the solitude, or just to play with them." The Kingma's Web site can be accessed at www.teamdonk.org.


Kristi & Jim Kingma attend to their three donkeys, Luc, Dev and Liberty, in Grangeville, Idaho


Mammoth donkey Liberty and Large Standard donkey Luc play tug-of-war with a beat up rubber mat

Donkey facts
* Donkeys bred to donkeys produce donkeys. Donkey, Burro, Ass, jackass, jennet, Miniature Donkey, Mammoth, Jackstock, standard, Mexican Burro - they are all terms for Donkeys.
* A male donkey (Jack) bred to a female horse produces a mules. Mules can be either male or female.
* A male horse (stallion) bred to a female donkey (jennet) produces a hinny. Hinnies can be either male or female.
* Twins are 10 times more common in donkeys than in horses. Fewer than 1 in 1,000 sets of twins in horses are estimated to be born healthy and alive; in donkeys, 1 in 100 sets will survive.
* A group of donkeys is called a herd.
* Horses carry their babies for 11 months, donkeys for 12. A mare carrying a mule foal is usually about 11-1/2 months.
- Information from the American Donkey and Mule Society

Posted by Guest Contributor at March 25, 2007 11:26 PM