I'm Beth Cooley Newton; I assist John Cooley with all internet services (Facebook pages, website), sales, record keeping and all around helping with the jackstock, especially the babies. My husband Cal and I have been friends and neighbors with John and his wife, Elizabeth for over twenty years. I’m a SC Cooley by birth and John is a NC Cooley. Though I have never been able to connect our families with my genealogy hobby, we act a lot alike about some things but are no kin. I find it ironic that my maiden name is Elizabeth Cooley and John is married to Elizabeth Cooley, one of my dearest friends. Our kids are all about the same age and for years as Elizabeth and I would ride our horses, I would tease John a lot about his donkeys. He has been very gentlemanly about the fact that I have eaten more words about these animals than I can ever count.
I’ve owned and shown quarter horses most of my life. My last two horses lived out long lives before crossing the rainbow bridge seven years ago. Actually, my story begins with “One Sunday afternoon” almost six years ago, I found myself out in the pasture helping John with about a dozen jennies. I received my first full mammoth body hug that these gentle giants give, that day. I’ve learned that you can stand quite safely amongst many of them and never be hurt, as they are so gentle and giving.
On this particular Sunday afternoon, I immediately noticed that I could feel the “calm” come back to me that I have always had around horses. That was my introduction into the mammoth jackstock world. After being involved with horses my whole life, I have repeatedly said that I have gone to the "Donkey Side". Mammoths are addictive and just like a potato chip, "One is not enough."
At that time John had about 56 donkeys, five gray ones and the rest of them black with white points. It was my personal mission to learn each one’s name as I was putting the herd information on the computer. Using my knowledge of equine conformation and many weeks of John patiently repeating their names, I became a quick study of their names and personalities. We now microchip them in case something happened to John, myself or Jessi - others can identify the donkeys. Much to my mother’s disgust or amazement, not sure which, I never forget a horse or donkey, but I don’t remember people – describe your horse and I’ll remember you.
There have been many nights of talking with John as we began to get the herd information listed on the computer and many nights of discussing their bloodlines, breeders and who and where he bought each mammoth from--which bloodlines carry what qualities, which jennies and jacks had what babies and so forth. The amount of knowledge John has in his head concerning the mammoths is amazing. I have made every effort to get it all organized and written down. The high quality of the babies hitting the ground now is due to John’s searching far and selectively breeding the mammoths he loves over the past twenty one years.
My daughter, Jessi, and I created this website for John and his jackstock. I do the writing and photography, and Jessi, our IT girl, sets up the website. I began learning all I could about the mammoths. Thanks to John, Anita Gallion, Deb Collins Kidwell and many others-- including quite a few mammoths--I received a great start to my Mammoth Jackstock education--sort of a Donkey 101 course. “Its an on going process!” I find the mammoths and their history quite fascinating.
I am constantly taking pictures of our mammoths and posting them on our website and face book pages. You never know what you will catch them doing. Our mammoths have personalities like people some are outgoing, some are shy, some are mischievous, some are comedians, but they all are very affectionate once they trust you. If I skip a week of posting, someone out there in the cyber world will remind me I have not posted any pictures; which makes me smile. The internet has greatly expanded our ability to reach out to folks all over the world and inform them about our “Long Ears.” The Mammoths and the internet has enabled me to meet so many great people, and I have made some very good friends on this journey into the donkey world.
I deal with the internet part of the mammoth business while John is busy running his farm, I’m the one you’re talking to on Facebook, emails and the website. I keep John informed of the inquiries and the messages as he ultimately has the final say. John knows the bloodlines and what body types he is after. I know conformation and can tell you why we want the specific body types. There are not enough hours in the day to talk to interested folks about the Mammoths. A sale can take months, involving many hours of discussion with potential buyers, sharing pictures and film. Then, prior to shipping, getting health papers, trips to veterinarian are required. I really love it when buyers are able to come in person to see the jackstock we have for sale. We enjoy these visits and have met some great friends, both two legged and four legged. Visitors are welcome here, and we enjoy showing off our jackstock and talking with folks about our mammoths.
In 2018, amazingly we had a little over 70,000 hits on our website. Our Facebook pages can have as many as 5700 hits a week, depending on how often I am able to post pictures. The internet allows us to communicate and sell our mammoths all over the United States, Canada and Mexico. Since putting us out there on the web, it is mind boggling to me how much and how fast this project has grown. It allows me the flexibility to be on night duty foal watch and to text others across the U.S., who are sitting up doing the same thing (especially two ladies living in OK & TN). I often receive emails and calls from folks with questions concerning the mammoths and their problems, I may or may not have an answer, but if I can’t help I try to suggest someone who can. It is always nice to share jackstock experiences with others.
In 2016, John and I had an extremely busy (taxing) breeding season when 17 out of the 20 jennies caught and fifteen babies were delivered. Only two out of the 15 babies were jennies, and I jokingly call it our “Jackpot” year! In 2017, we slowed down a bit and only had four babies, 3 jacks and “Geraldine.” I love this baby jenny with her sassy attitude. In 2018 we had 5 baby jacks no jennies. We are expecting more babies to arrive in 2019 beginning in May. So far this year we are at two jennies with seven coming this Fall.
Gestation for a mammoth jenny is 12 months and some go 13. Every time we think we can predict when a jenny is showing all the right signs and is going to foal, she will prove to us we don’t really know anything. Sometimes we watch for a few days and, with some, we have waited and watched for over six weeks. We try to be present at all the births; occasionally we have to step in an assist the mamas. If I’m on watch, I call John immediately when they begin to foal. We want deliveries to be safe for the mama and the baby. We also want to be sure the babies have a good start in life with no problems. We immediately disinfect the birth cord and always give the baby a tetanus shot. Our live birth success rate has definitely improved.
We believe in imprinting the babies during the first week after they are born-- touching them all over, picking up feet, haltering, leading, etc. The babies never forget, are easy to handle, and are very friendly and well behaved.
On April 22, 2016, I became the mama to a baby jack, Deacon, when his birth mama wouldn't accept him. We knew Deacon was special as soon as he hit the ground. He stood up in seventeen minutes, which is fast. He has excellent conformation and good bone density, all the traits we look for in a mammoth. It took John, Jessi, our crew, and myself many hours of care and patience, but Deacon was raised on a bottle. I spent countless hours getting him socialized with the other mammoth babies so that he knew he was a mammoth, although he still sees me as his peoples, his “Mama”; John is still threatening to wean him. As a three year old approaching his fourth birthday, Deacon is an outstanding specimen of a mammoth jack with his true black coat with the white points. We have shown him quite successfully at halter, and one day in 2020 he will become a daddy.
Folks have asked me what I was going to do when my daughters had all finished college, and wouldn’t need me to be running around taking care of them. I never in a million years would have said that I’m going to be a “donkey midwife” and an “Ass” dealer! But, I sure am having a good time doing it.