Thursday, September 10, 2015

Published by: Our Eyes Upon Missouri

Dancin’ Donkey Acres, Buffalo, MO

We’ve met and interviewed many people who, by definition, are retired, but in practice, they are anything but retired! Vicki and Jerry Pegelow are another retired couple who have absolutely no time to sit and grow weak, and that’s by choice and design. They are making their dreams come true in the company of Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys on 80 acres northeast of Buffalo, Missouri, a place they call Dancin’ Donkey Acres.


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At the entry to Dancin' Donkey Acres,
home to 30 donkeys and their caretakers,
Jerry and Vicki Pegelow

 

Al met Stubby at the Missouri State Fair when the soft-eyed donkey grinned for the camera. He wanted to learn more about Dancin’ Donkey Acres so two weeks after the Fair, we met the Pegelows at their Buffalo farm. They are warm, outgoing people who love the hard work that comes with owning so much land and more than two dozen donkeys.

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The Pegelow home swarms with hummingbirds, butterflies,
plants and trees. Earlier this summer, Vicki Pegelow was buying
sugar in 50-pound bags to host more than 30 hummingbirds.

 

Vicki is currently struggling with the knowledge that one of their donkeys will soon reside in the Netherlands. She raised that white donkey, born two years ago on the Pegelow’s farm. Now Vicki and Jerry will transport their donkey-baby to Houston for quarantine where the new owner will pick her up for a flight to her new home. Vicki says she just learns to love each donkey so much that it’s tough to let one go so far from Missouri.

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This lovely white miniature donkey will trade Missouri skies
for the ones overhead in the Netherlands.

 

Jerry loves them even more. He showed Angus cattle all over the country for years. He also comes from the ranching and farming life by way of his dad and by leasing 1,100 acres for his own soybean and corn crops. Urban and suburban housing crowded out his farming days. In fact, the Chicago Bears training camp and a large Corporate Woods development now stand on land he once farmed. So naturally, Jerry began to look for other work and avenues. He and Vicki often reviewed real estate opportunities, and one day, spotted a great-looking property in Missouri. A realtor added the place they now own.

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Jerry Pegelow draws a crowd when he crosses the donkey guard
and joins the donkeys in their pasture.

 

The Pegelows toured the property on Memorial Day almost two decades ago and closed on it Labor Day. They commuted for three years until the retirement dream could become their full-time life. Now they say they are living “A long time dream come true."

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The Pegelow donkeys are not at all shy about making their desires known.
Here one makes it clear that a ride on the Gator would be just fine.
Vicki Pegelow (blond hair) can be seen at the wheel of the second Gator.

On the road to the Missouri, Kansas, Texas, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Springfield’s Ozark Empire Fairs, the Pegelows are busy people--so busy that their other pastime, square dancing, is often pushed to the bottom of their to-do list. At these fairs, the Pegelow’s donkeys compete in Halter and Driving contests as well as Performance trials, and thanks to them, the Pegelows have enjoyed success.

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Big, alert ears and gentle demeanors characterize the miniature donkey.

 

Short Assets Paint the Town was a 2015 High Point Champion in Wisconsin and Open Reserve High Point Champion in Kansas. DDA Ebony Image & PDF Black Knigh were the 2015 Reserve High Point Champion Team in Kansas. DDA Malibar was Kansas’ 2015 Point Champion and DDA Rorie was Pre-Green Reserve High Point Champion at the same fair. In Shelbyville, Tennessee at the ADA Music City Show, DDA Marcelle earned the Pre-Green High Point Champion title and DDA Malibar the Pre-Green Reserve High Point Champion award.

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When not traveling, the Pegelows are at home. Jerry trains the donkeys to perform, and Vicki works behind the scenes keeping records, filing forms, and studying requirements for competition. For example, each donkey competition has its own dress code requirements. One contest in one place may require “exhibitors in halter to wear a long sleeved shirt or blouse with collar, long pants, and a hat. Some rulebooks require gloves for certain classes” so Vicki has plenty of homework to do before the Pegelows load donkeys and take to the road.

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Jerry Pegelow's training ground for his performing donkeys

 

Jerry decided to raise, train, and breed miniature donkeys because they are loving and lovable. They are smart and curious animals that love to learn. He uses a wading pool and arch from which hang swim noodles; they are employed to teach the donkeys to remain calm in a cluttered, changing environment. In the same way that a trainer will socialize a dog by exposing it to various environments and crowds, Jerry exposes his donkeys to different environments, settings, and people.

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Vicki (left) and Jerry (right) flank one of the babies refusing to join the herd
in the larger pasture beyond. She was cozy in the sun.

 

Stubby’s big grin for passersby at the Missouri State Fair is proof that Pegelow donkeys are social animals that love affection and attention. While we visited Dancin’ Donkey Acres, we stood or sat among donkeys. Some were curious about my notebook and paper; one even wanted to nibble the corner. Others were curious about Al’s camera and seemed to strike a pose to be photographed at their best. They move around and near the Pegelows as a family pet does. They clearly enjoyed their caretakers’ presence, and their caretakers clearly delighted in their company. Every donkey on the property has a unique name, and both caretakers call them by that name and/or a shorter nickname. The donkeys must have heard those names often enough because they respond.

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The performing donkeys are gentle and curious.
Here, one of them gets acquainted with me.

 

One donkey, Amanda, may illustrate how much miniature donkeys enjoy and understand the company of humans. She doesn’t like anyone to touch her ears and moves her head away when someone tries to touch them--except she didn’t object at all when she was part of the Special Youth Livestock Show. There children with developmental disabilities dressed her in shorts and a shirt. They even made a hat using gym shorts and put it over her ears. She tolerated their costuming efforts very well, seeming to know that no harm was intended. She is but one who proves the gentle nature of donkeys when they are treated well, and they certainly are at Dancin’ Donkey Acres. Look for them online or at a State Fair. They’ll be performing in Oklahoma City during the 10-day State Fair later this month.

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Unique markings and soft muted colors are part
of the miniature donkey's charm.

 

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Al and Connye create Our Eyes Upon Missouri.
Al provides photographs and Connye writes.
More of Al’s photos can be found at Fine Art America
and SmugMug. Connye also creates My Writing and Editing Coach.