Barney Davis said he was flipping through a magazine decades ago when an ad for miniature donkeys from the Mediterranean Islands caught his eye.
The 93-year-old said he and his wife, Pam, decided the small equines would make interesting gifts for each other to celebrate their anniversary. So they bought a pair.
"We just did it as a lark to begin with because they were cute," Davis said Friday as he sat in his apartment at the Carriage Inn retirement community in Bryan. "We didn't know we'd go into the business."
The couple, who will have been married for 64 years in August, named the male and female donkeys B.D. and Abby -- B.D. for Davis' initials and Abby because Pam's middle name is Abigail, he said.
"We brought them on home and didn't know one thing about donkeys," he said, chuckling.
Eventually, the pair grew into a herd on Davis' Somerville ranch. Davis, who served as mayor of Somerville for two years in the early 1980s, said he loved watching how the young foals interacted with each other, so he started taking notes.
"They were acting like children," he said. "We just played with them like they were babies. I started writing down little things I liked about them, then I collected that and just began writing a little story."
Davis said he decided years ago to get his story about two miniature donkeys published as a children's book. But his many attempts were rejected by each publisher he contacted, he said.
"They'd write back and say, 'It's an interesting story you have, but ...,'" Davis said. "They always had a 'but.'"
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