Dr. Amy McLean has always had a soft spot for long ears. The animal scientist at the University of California, Davis, grew up on a Georgia farm that bred donkeys and mules and has competed in mule riding world championships. Now, she studies donkey behavior and cognition, and she knows that despite popular negative stereotypes, donkeys are “highly intelligent and highly sensitive.”
No wonder she calls the current plight of the world’s donkeys “horrific.”
Over the past 6 years, Chinese traders have been buying the hides of millions of butchered donkeys (Equus asinus) from developing countries and shipping them to China, where they’re used to manufacture ejiao, a traditional Chinese medicine. The trade has led to an animal welfare nightmare, along with a threat to donkey populations, the severity of which is only now emerging. Without drastic measures, the number of donkeys worldwide will drop by half within 5 years, according to a 21 November report by the Donkey Sanctuary, an international equine welfare charity based in Sidmouth, U.K. The crisis threatens many of the world’s rarer donkey breeds and a vital means of transport for the poor. But it is also spurring new studies of donkey biology—including how to speed their reproduction.
Owning a small farm is a dream come true for me and my husband Scott. As children we both have found memories of the family farms. Now that we are in our late fifties something has drastically changed, small farms are being sold for cash something most farmers would never think of doing ever.
Hay Field Plowed
Scott plowing the field fall 2019
What has changed over the last sixty years?
Big farms can sell their produce much cheaper than small farms. Customers support the big farm over the small farm by shopping in the store over and over and not thinking about the little farm down the road. Another huge issue; the new workforce does not want to work as hard as a farmer they want a desk job no more than eight hours with a half hour lunch.
In the past people started farms for the lifestyle and the freedom to work hard and earn a fair living. Today if a person wants to start a small farm, they had better have a full-time job or savings to pay for it. Why? Farming is expensive it’s not a business anymore but more of a hobby for most people new to farming. No profit is seen for up to seven or ten years. That’s a long time to not get any profit while working seven days a week, long hours and no vacation ever. Farmers rarely take a vacation as the cost is not prohibitive to leave the farm.