Stoney Creek farm gets new stripes

By Jennifer Lassiter
star staff

  Mitsi and Randy Rogers' addiction to animal love brings a new set of hoofs to their 'Funny Farm' in Stoney Creek. Their partnership with Walt and Susan Whaley comes with new surprises, when, a little over a week and a half ago, the Whaley's brought home their 78th animal, a 13-week-old pet zebra.
  The Whaley's named the zebra after their friend and partner, Randy. According to Randy, it all started when they named one of their horses after Walt. It just spiraled from there. Now they all have pets named after one another.
  Being the newest addition, the zebra shares a stall with Liberace, the largest goat on the farm.
   "Space isn't the issue; it's to ease his transition," said Randy, adding that it's common practice to put animals together in a stall to relieve anxiety.
  "When he first got here he was bouncing off the walls; he's still getting adjusted to his new surroundings, but he has improved since he first arrived," said Randy.
  Zebras are similar to horses in that they eat they same foods and are herd animals, but they are uniquely striped black and white. The stripes are different on every zebra, like a fingerprint. A zebra's native home is in the plains of Africa.
  There is speculation about the purpose of the distinct black and white stripes. According to Randy, there are two theories behind them. Some say the stripes blend into the tall grasses, creating a camouflage for zebras. Others say, when a zebra is attacked, the movement of all the stripes on a herd confuses predators.
  The Rogers have plans to have the zebra neutered so that he can't breed with the other animals. As the zebra grows to 500 to 600 pounds, they hope to have him trained to carry a cart around the farm.
  The hobby of collecting exotic animals has turned into an obsession. Mitsi Rogers said that it all started when the Whaley's gave them their first llama, Shirley. Shirley was pregnant and gave birth to Noel, and it's just grown from there.
  Today, the Rogers and Whaley's have 12 llamas total. Mitsi was given the name, llama mama, because of her knack for caring for the gently cooing animals. She is currently bottle feeding a baby llama who recently lost her mother to old age.
  "They are real peaceful and curious animals," said Mitsi.
  Randy takes care of the larger animals on the farm, while Mitsi takes care of the smaller ones. With 12 horses, 6 goats, and 12 llamas Randy had to devise a plan to make feeding simple. With a loud sharp whistle, all of the animals on the farm know it's chow time.
  "I feel better every time I feed the animals," Randy said. Mitsi quickly volunteered to walk the baby llama up the road to the upper section of their farm.
  "I'll walk. You'll (Randy) get out of breath."
  Reluctantly, Randy, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, agreed to drive the truck. Mitsi said the farm is therapeutic.
  Some of their pets know what it's like to struggle for life. Their lamb named Mary had a twin who died when they were 3-weeks-old. Mary was hinging on death a few times. She barely made it through two cases of pneumonia.
  Mitsi said, "Mary is very special to us; we started bottle feeding her at three weeks old."
  Today, Mary has a sidekick name Bones. Bones is a black and white baby goat that has taken up with Mary.
  "No matter what kind of day I've had at work, coming home to the animals makes everything feel better," Randy said.