Tuesday, February 5, 2008

General Washington, what about those genes?

So what is in those genes? The history of the American Mammoth Donkey, now a rare breed, seems sketchy and difficult to discover in sound, peer-reviewed journals or articles. Perhaps there are some dusty books in a library somewhere that contain good information on Mammoth donkey history, but I'm not seeing it in cyberland. Currently, argument exists over whether today's American Mammoth Donkey is even a seperate breed. Perhaps all we have left is the dilute aftermath of Henry Ford's legless invention. For many years after mechanized transportation entered the scene, the Mammoth Jack seemed to disappear from radar and the American landscape.

Breed registries exist that help inform the renewed interest in Mammoth Donkeys, but they are relatively young, somewhat less rigorous than many horse registries, and, I wonder--relatively underutilized? The unique American need that drove the development of certain Mammoth characteristics prior to the industrial era has shifted to a newly unique American need--recreation. Finding the answer to the genenetics quest in the Jack world often requires following the oral traditions of breeders. That doesn't mean the information out there isn't useful, but its veracity is suspect. I think many American breeders of Mammoth Donkeys may just be a little less formal in their approach to breeding than the dollars available in the horse world have demanded of quality horse breeders. The mood among Mammoth breeders may be reflected in the stated thoughts of one such producer that one "can never go wrong with good confirmation and disposition for any animal no matter where they came from."

At one point, the American Mammoth Donkey was considered its own breed. Producers developed it to fit the unique needs of the American farmer, starting with George Washington himself. My web-based search on the subject produced the following abstract from 1917 in the Journal of Animal Science. (For the entire abstract, See http://jas.fass.org/cgi/content/abstract/1917/1/131)

"The American Jack Stock is a distinct breed made by blending imported breeds from Spain, France, and the Islands of the Mediterranean Sea.

"General George Washington was the first breeder in America, and our own Hon. Henry Clay imported and introduced the best obtainable foreign blood. Messrs Young and Everett of Montgomery County, Kentucky, in 1840 imported a great old jack named Mammoth from the Province of Catalonia, Spain. The Leers of Bourbon County imported two famous jacks named Napoleon and Moro Castle. The latter jack and a grandson of Imp. Mammoth went to Tennessee as foundation sires for that state. Later Tennessee breeders became extensive importers from Spain. But the business of importing jack stock ceased some years ago when it was found that the breed of American Jack stock is superior to any similar stock in Europe. (emphasis mine. PG)

"The breed of American Jacks is the product of constructive breeding performed during seventy years mainly by intelligent breeders in Kentucky, and Tennessee, but Missouri is now adding some substantial contributions to the breed." J. J. Hooper and W. S. Anderson,
Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station

Today's photos reflect 3 generations of Mammoth Jacks, starting with my Rusty above. The next photo in line is of Sugarcreek Oakie, his sire. The last photo is of Oklahoma Diamond, his paternal grandsire--all three fine specimens in my view.

I am ever thankful to George Washinton for fathering this free nation, for I live the American Dream. Whats more? I should like to add kudos to this father of the gentlemen's pursuit of Mammoth Jacks and mules!

Here's an example of what is in my genes. Happy 13th Kailee!! (She can't date until she is 18 and yes I have a gun...or more)


BonBon said...

Happy Birthday Kailee! You are getting so grown up! An official teenager! Party hardly and eat some ice cream for me!

Wendy in Alaska said...

Cool history lesson, cool threat!

Happy Birthday sweet Kailee. Enjoy those fun teenage years, don't give your pops too much grief!

Tamster said...

Happy, happy birthday, Kailee dear! Happy days will come to you all year. If I had one wish then it would be a happy, happy birthday to you from me! :-)

Sharebear said...

Dito to what everyone said. Just three more years, Kailee, and you'll be taking your dad for the ride of his life. We'll see if he's laughing with you at the wheel.

WoW said...

Ditto - Your frozen Alaskan grandparents send our frosty greetings and wish you happy birthday greetings. Love WoW

Anonymous said...

How long has it been since you checked out your wife's blog?

Lil Goochy Gal said...

Haha thanks everyone!! I had a great birthday! And yes, it will be the ride of his life in 3 more years! :)

Leoma said...

Good words.