The Story Of Highlander
A gentle giant Jack
In about 2003 Marcia and I began a search for a Mammoth Jack. We responded to advertisements in several states and drove from Texas to Wyoming to Indiana and Missouri looking at medium sized burros that folks were representing as Mammoth. Having seen the halter class (3 jacks) at Houston Fair and rodeo, I knew what I was looking for. The problem was that there seemed to be no real-life donkeys that fit the bill.
Someone suggested I visit Dr. Tex Taylor in Bryan, Texas. At the time we were living in Katy, Texas, so it was a short trip. Finally, here was a man who knew Mammoth Jackstock. Thankfully he wasn’t selling! He did, however, tell me about a donkey that caught his fancy in LaGrand, Oregon. For him a long trip wasn’t possible just then (I don’t think he had convinced his wife that they needed another big donkey). Well, Marcia and I happen to have a home in Missoula Montana, and Oregon is just a few hours away. We found Jeanine Rachau’s Blue Mountain website and invited ourselves to look at this young jack. Blue Mountain Highlander is the first and only registered Mammoth that we found for sale in six months of searching.
I should probably mention that at this time I had no desire to raise big donkeys. My need was to produce a pack string of mules to use in the wilderness of Montana and to charge my neighbors for the same. Actually, this is the true plight of the Mammoth donkey – that they make mules. The world’s largest ass was not developed to ride, pack or drive. Their sole purpose was to produce mules. While the European farmer produced large draft horses, the American farmer developed large draft mule.
After our purchase of Highlander Jeanine liquidated her herd of jennies and offered us the opportunity to buy a jennet. We bought two. Glad we did. So is Highlander!
It can be a long drive to see them, but everyone is welcome!
Bob Doxey – Lazy BD Donkey Farm
History of the Mammoth Jack
Why, you say, would one breed an incredible Percheron or Clydesdale to a skinny, loud, long eared Ass? Well, this is where American ingenuity and capitalism takes the stage. It’s all about economics. You see, the American farmer wanted more than raw power.
I’ll start with the basics: Mules are half donkey. Donkeys live longer than horses. Mules, therefore, have a longer work life than their mothers. Oh, did I mention that they eat less? Or that they require less veterinarian visits or that they’re smarter – not stubborn, just smarter. There are other attributes I can mention, but I’ll only do one more. Ever hear of twenty mule team Borax? Of course. How about the twenty horse team Borax? Nope! Want to know why? Mules can be trained to do things that horses can’t (remember smarter)? I have seen pictures of 40 mules pulling farm equipment whereas a horse hitch of eight is about it (there are exceptions). This is the ingenuity and economics that the American farmer recognized in mule power over horse power.
So, it was the American farmer that developed the American Mammoth. In the early 1800’s, they bought boatloads of large jackstock from Europe and the Middle East and bred them up in size to make the world’s largest breed of Ass. The gene pool cannot be easily reproduced because boatloads means there are none left to import today. And so, this is the plight of the American Mammoth and this is the reason Marcia and I could not find Mammoth donkeys to purchase in 2003.
So, If all those donkeys were imported and bred, then why is it that we were unable to locate even one? Simple: The John Deere Tractor. By 1920 there were 5.2 million registered American Mammoth donkeys. Today there remain fewer than 4000. We sold them, we used them in war, we even ate them. What we didn’t do is breed them. Who needs to feed a donkey that is big as a horse with no use other than reproduction?
The American Mammoth is still used today exactly for what it was used over 100 years ago: mule making. Unfortunately, most jacks never get to breed their own kind. They do indeed reproduce, but rarely to other Mammoths. Most people purchasing donkeys from me, and I assume from other donkey breeders, use them for mule production, thus the gene pool gets smaller. Our jennies are sold as riding stock, not breeding stock. It seems the fate of this great animal is sealed. Born to reproduce and destined to extinction.
"Why do we breed our Mammoth Donkeys? Because Mules, that's why! Have you ever seen large mule teams and the loads they are able to safely haul?" -Farmer Bob
No power like Mammoth made Mule power!
A local legend: Deloit & his Mule "Horse"
A mule named horse and a dentist named Wolfe.
A Missoula Mule named Horse was 23 years old when he passed, shortly after his owner and local dentist, also passed. Their friendship was the cornerstone of the mule world and why ranchers and famers alike have formed strong bonds with their mules. While fighting Lou Gherig's disease local Missoula man Deloit was involved with many local charities, events and athletics. He worked on his families wheat farm in Kansas while going to dental school early in life. He continued to be a part of whatever community he was a part of. Another chapter in life Deloit was on the Missoula County Planning board and other development projects, showing his love for not only his community but also his love for his "Horse" the mule. The mule, that had once been considered "too hard to handle" in Kansas by previous owners, was eventually the 2008 winner of the Master's Horse Show in Calgary. Taking "Horse" into the Bob Marshall Wilderness was one Deloit and Horse’s favorite activities throughout their time together. Their bond was a testament to what gentle giants these mules can be. Mules, like their owners, are stubborn to the end! And what an end the two had, passing just days apart, and in a rather dramatic fashion! Further proving there is no love like the love of a stubborn mule!