Creatures of Guam: Carabao

I grew up in a very small town in Oregon surrounded by farms. Horses, cows and sheep were a daily presence in my life . As the daughter of a sheep herder, I watched as my dad and his friends helped the sheep birth lambs, I fed them and road around in the truck while the dogs and sheep herders herded the sheep. Taking the back roads to college everyday, I’d often see cows grazing in the pasture. Occasionally one would escape and make me late for class because it decided to stand in the road.

Guam isn’t home to many animals at all, but when I first saw a Carabao eating grass on the side of the road, I shrieked and did a double-take.  Its horns were massive and I thought it was going to charge at me! Carabao are very lazy, slow animals and don’t attack! I know that now.

The further south you go, the more common these creatures become. If you’re lucky while driving south, there is a man who walks his carabao along the roadside, but the funny thing is that sitting on the carabao’s back is his dog!

I recently spent a day at my friend’s ranch just past Mt. Lam Lam. Her family happened to have a carabao and offered to let us ride him! Peter was the brave one, as usual. He jumped on the animal and road it down the hill. There is a special way to steer the carabao using the heel of your foot and two large ropes to guide its head. At one point the carabao walked into some branches and nearly knocked Peter off of his back!

Carabao are hot commodities and people will actually try to steal these monsters! They are used as natural grass cutters, very slow carriers and to keep tradition alive.

Maybe someday I will ride the carabao at Chamorro Village…when I get the nerve!

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