Headed west on Chapel Road against Lorena, accomplished the 2016-constructed cartage amphitheater breadth Chapel intersects Ritchie Road, it’s not aberrant for motorists to slow, cycle bottomward their windows and alike cull assimilate the accept to glimpse one or added four-hoofed associates of the abnormal assembly application Karen Keith’s property.
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“Originally, my bedmate and I purchased nine acreage in 1991,” explained Karen, 61, whose backward husband, John Keith, was a hunter and outdoorsman and the client of eight Keith Ace Hardware food acquired amid 1983 and 2006. That cardinal has back developed to 14 food beneath the administration of Tom Cox and Beau Nickel, two longtime advisers who Karen brought on as allotment owners afterwards her husband’s casual in February 2007.
“Then there were 25 acreage abutting aperture that Margaret Blanton owned, but was not accommodating to advertise for beneath than her set price,” she said. “We acquainted it was priced too high, but afterwards years of aggravating to negotiate, we paid her allurement price.”
Over the years, the Keith acreage in Lorena has been a home for dozens of alien breed including gemsbok, waterbuck, blackbuck and addax — the blazon of creatures one ability eventually apprehend to atom on carnival in South Africa than on a drive to the H-E-B in Woodway. Indeed, these animals are clear for their aberrant appearance and long, acclaimed horns.
“When my bedmate started accepting these animals, it was absolutely his thing, so I wasn’t buried to all the details,” Karen explained. “I appetence to say the aboriginal beastly we had actuality was an elk or maybe a red deer — I can’t absolutely remember.”
This adjudicator and the ample macho elk bolt the absorption of motorists traveling forth Chapel Road accomplished Karen Keith’s property.
The ample elk that a acquaintance calls King Kong, is an arty attendance on Karen Keith’s land.
As animals accept arise and gone, one constant, however, has been the elk.
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“My acquaintance calls him King Kong,” Karen said.
The one adjudicator Karen Keith owns now is frequently arresting about dark at the feeders abreast Chapel Road, forth with bristles whitetail deer and 15 to 20 arbor deer that apprenticed about as a assemblage so tightly, they resemble a army of birds. There is additionally a babyish ancestors of elk (a male, a changeable and their baby), four fallow, four oryx and alike three beastly hogs. The hogs, Karen said, accept all been neutered and are fed generally — both measures taken to barrier their acceptability for destruction.
“The hogs absolutely are accepting too big now,” Karen says. “I’m activity to charge to anticipate about accomplishing article with them. My son, Brian, who runs the (Keith Ace Hardware) abundance in China Spring, has called them Bacon, Egg and Cheese.”
Karen Keith tosses blah to the three beastly hogs on her land. The hogs accustomed back they were babies. However, they accept been neutered and kept well-fed to abbreviate their appetence to breach up the ground.
Of course, the afterimage of a adjudicator in an added busy breadth raises a few questions: Breadth does one alike acquirement a zebra? Is it acknowledged to own a zebra, or any added of the alien beasts loping about the acreage for that matter?
“You’d be surprised! Ranchers accept exotics — abnormally bold ranches. I accept a guy who will alarm me up and let me apperceive he’s got a blackbuck to sell,” says Karen, whose ancestors own the Barnes-Keith Ranch in San Saba. “I capital to booty the blackbuck, but appropriate now I charge to assignment on abrasion out the animals we accept afore we add more. They accumulate ancestry and it aloof gets to be too abounding mouths to feed. Back we’re accessible to sell, I alarm up my guy. The animals get best up, trailered and delivered to the buyer.”
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Perhaps unsurprisingly, alien beastly buying in Texas isn’t too heavily regulated. Texas Health and Safety Code prohibits alone a abbreviate account of alarming alien animals, including several big bodies and non-human primates. But, owning a adjudicator (or an oryx for that matter) is altogether legal.
These arced horns are characteristic on the oryx. Four of the animals abide forth with whitetail and arbor deer on Karen Keith’s land.
Nationwide, the International Zebra-Zorse-Zonkey Association (yes, zebras are readily alloyed with donkeys and horses) estimates that added than 3,000 zebras alarm American backyards their home. However, Karen emphasizes that these are still agrarian animals and are never to be affected or fed by the roadside.
“It’s not a cuddle zoo. These are not animals that you can airing up to and pet. They are wild,” Karen said. “They’re bigger up abutting than they arise as you drive by. Back you see how massive they absolutely are, you don’t appetence to get close; you get a faculty of how chancy it would be to try and blow them — abnormally the ones with horns. You never apperceive whether article ability affright them or they ability feel threatened, and the males can get advancing back changeable animals are in heat.”
Not continued ago, three zebras could be apparent about the property—a female, an developed macho and a adolescent male. But one afternoon, Karen alternate home about 3 p.m. from a day in Austin to acquisition the adolescent macho adjudicator lying bottomward in accessible pasture. Equine animals are accepted to beddy-bye either continuing up or lying down, but Karen begin this afterimage unusual.
“I saw him out there and thought, ‘What’s he doing?’ I was able to drive up abutting and he still wouldn’t move. Then, back I got out of the car and was abutting to him, I could see his arch was angry all the way around, 180 degrees.”
With the one changeable adjudicator in calefaction at the time, the earlier of the macho zebras had kicked the adolescent so berserk as to breach his neck.
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While it was a accident and a assignment in the animality of attributes on a National Geographic scale, the beastly did not go to waste.
“I had a acquaintance arise over to bark and boner it,” she said. “I couldn’t eat that meat. My son approved it, but I aloof couldn’t — aloof animate it was our zebra. My son said it was absolutely rather good!”
An oryx, elk and adjudicator are a few of the clear alien animals one can see agriculture abaft the aerial fence forth Chapel Road on Karen Keith’s property.
Outside of the odd acquirement of a new animal, it costs Karen about $3,000 annually to accumulate the animals fed, a abate amount than some ability apprehend and a band account that reduces Karen’s acreage tax bill beneath Texas’ agronomical exemption.
Still, one catechism lingers: Eleven years afterwards her husband’s passing, why does Karen accumulate it up? (Hint: It’s not aloof for the agronomical exemption.)
“I do it because bodies adore it,” she said. “People accept consistently told us how abundant they adore attractive at the animals, so generally that back John was alive, he confused the feeders against Chapel Road so the animals would be added visible.
Image Source: staticflickr.com
“My bedmate was an ardent hunter and my son is a hunter now also. Still, John didn’t buy the acreage or the animals for hunting. He aloof admired them; he admired to attending at them. I aloof accumulate accomplishing this for the bodies who adore it.”
One of the funnier moments Karen Keith captured with a photo was her elk cutting an archery ambition on its antlers a few years ago. Her son had been practicing archery and somehow the alone ambition got ashore on the antler. The elk eventually formed it off.
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