10 Country: Mike’s four-legged guards - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Mike’s four-legged guards

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October 8, 2002

Irwin County--
A lot of people pay big bucks for elaborate security systems to guard their property, but one family does it the all-natural way. They have an unusual group of guards that work around the clock without complaining.

If you want to be politically correct these days, don’t call the Clayton’s big-eared animals mules. They have 12 donkeys working as full-time security guards. “The town dogs would come and mess with the goats,”said Mike Clayton.

The dogs would often kill the young goats-- until he got a donkey, put it in the pasture with the goats. Sure enough, the donkey protected the goats, solving the problem.

Later, he bought eight more from a family member. Those donkeys had more donkeys and at one time he had 22. Mike use to grow a lot more cows on the pasture, but now grows donkeys because they are much more interesting.

He found they protect more than other animals. “They make noise when someone strange comes up,”Mike said.

His donkeys appeal to people. They have so many inquiries that it’s harder to answer questions than care for the donkeys. “All the people who stop, ring the door bell and want to buy them,”Mrs. Clayton said.

Mike’s ten-year-old daughter, Claire, got attached to them, playing with them as she would with most any other four-legged pet, even naming her favorite one Rosie.

Claire has no fear of being with Rosie and the other donkeys. She just makes sure she doesn’t get within kicking distance. At a distance, it would seem Mike Clayton, with all his donkeys, would make the ideal poster boy for the Democratic Party.

He would rather grow elephants, he says, but it would be much harder and cost him a lot more money. He gets a big kick out of controlling symbols of the Democratic Party, secure in his thinking about using an animal for a far better purpose than for political advantage.

posted at 6:20PM by dave.miller@walb.com