Ranching in Manhattan
Bob Pardo has more than 200 head of cattle living in the bedroom of his Manhattan apartment. But then, that's pretty easy for him because the largest bull in the herd is only three inches high and weighs two and a half pounds.
"I always wanted to be a rancher," Pardo said, "but everyone told me it was impossible to do in the city. They all thought it was just a pipe dream anyway, so nobody took me seriously."
But he was serious, so he set out to breed cows small enough to keep in an apartment. It took him almost ten years, and he had to move numerous times because of the noise and smell his animals caused, but he was finally able to miniaturize cattle.
"My first ranch was in the living room ," Pardo remembers. "I nailed some 2 x 4's together for a fence, scattered a couple of bags of potting soil inside, and fed the little cows grass clippings I picked up in the park. Eventually the herd got large enough that I had to rent a two bedroom apartment and I converted on entire bedroom to a cattle ranch."
So, what do you do with hundreds of tiny cows?
"The herd soon outgrew both bedrooms, so I started selling the extras to local restaurants," he said. "I had them displayed up front in a little glass case like they do with lobsters. I put up a sign that said, PICK YOUR OWN STEAK in the front of the case, and pretty soon I was selling a whole lot more cows than I could ever raise in one tiny apartment."
Pardo is still raising cows, and he still lives in Manhattan, but his business has grown so big that now he lives in a penthouse and keeps several thousand head of cattle on his sun deck. He still sells to a lot of the local restaurants, but most of the cows go to his own chain of Hamburger on the Hoof restaurants that he bills as The only place where you can eat a whole cow in one sitting. It's also the only place that gives a free pair of leather baby shoes with every ten hamburgers.
He has also branched out to other forms of livestock, and has successfully miniaturized both pigs and chickens. The chickens become the basis of a wildly successfully business, El Pollo Poco.
"The El Pollo franchise went through a lot of growing pains", Pardo said. "The chickens are only four inches tall, and their little tiny feathers are awfully hard to get off. We were able to breed a strain without feathers, but they looked so pitiful in the Pick Your Own Chicken Dinner display case that nobody would eat them. So we still went back to chickens with feathers, but now we put them in a paint mixer for a couple of minutes and shake the feathers off," he explained.
But, not everything has come up roses for Pardo. The tiny pigs he bred were so cute that nobody wanted to put them in a BLT sandwich; they just wanted to take them home. "Most of these are city folks living in apartments," Pardo said. "So, what I did was breed them down really small so that folks can keep them in their window boxes. Now I sell as many of them as I can raise."