The email subject line looked straight out of a tabloid: “Miniature goat looking to join the rodeo circuit.”
It stood out among the slew of newsroom emails about closures, collisions and collusion.
The sender, Randy De Jong, included a photo of his goat doing a balancing act on the back of a petite cow with markings that resemble a giant panda.
“Star seems to enjoy the free massage,” he wrote of the cow.
Tiny farm animals? Goat tricks? Panda cows?
What’s up with that?
I went to De Jong’s farm in Snohomish, expecting to find some bizarre lilliputian barnyard-circus-massage parlor.
It’s more his version of “Honey I Shrunk the Iowa Farm.”
“When I was growing up, it was corn and soybeans, dairy cattle, hogs,” he said.
De Jong, 57, left the family farm in Iowa to pursue nursing. He’s a nurse practitioner in chemical dependency treatment at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, where he’s worked for 32 years.
“It’s like that saying you can take the boy out of the farm, but you can’t take the farm out of the boy,” he said.
De Jong missed being around livestock, so he talked his city gal wife, Kathi, into moving to the 3.5 acre farm on Fobes Hill five years ago.
He originally wanted beefy cows like in Iowa.
Kathi forbid him from getting animals that would end up on the dinner table.
“City girls don’t eat their pets,” she said.
He went for the minis, so he could get the farm fix.
There are five Nigerian dwarf goats and five assorted cattle in his care.
They are pets. Outdoor pets. Not the kind to snuggle in your lap or take over your bed.
The bovines are about 40 inches tall and 700 pounds — the size equivalent of three or four Great Danes rolled into a cow. Two are panda cows. Another is a red Hereford. The bull is a rental stud.
“They eat grass, drink water and look at you,” he said. “They don’t do anything.” Well, except maybe the bull.
The goats like to get frisky, so he built them a playground. It’s the launching pad for getting on the cow’s back.
De Jong said the cow-goat rodeo performances are random. “It happens or it doesn’t happen.”
Sure enough, it did when I was there. Bibbity the goat hopped on Star the cow’s back and stayed there for about 15 yee-haw minutes. (See video at heraldnet.com.)
Kathi has adjusted to farm life and the big pets, with one exception.
“I don’t like it when they step on my feet,” she said.
The garage is her quilt studio. She designed a wooden quilt for the barn. It combines two symbols of Midwest heritage — barns and quilts.
“This is my piece of Iowa,” her husband said. “Now I get to do this kind of stuff and don’t feel I have to go back. Being able to farm here and still be around my kids and grandchild is the best of both worlds.”
Are there things you wonder about or do you have some wonders to share? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org, 425-339-3443 or Twitter: @reporterbrown.