March Madness….My Way

March 22nd, 2015 by Kim

As if February’s weather didn’t have enough craziness that came along with it, like frozen water lines, no city water, and gas regulator problems, now I’ve had my own version of March Madness going on.

Rousseau did not seem impressed with the foot & a half of snow we got.  I think he'll be happy to be in TX.

Rousseau did not seem impressed with the foot & a half of snow we got. I think he’ll be happy to be in TX.

Rousseau was sold & supposed to be moving to his new Texas home in Feb, but the weather delayed that….multiple times.  So March came & he was still here, so we had testing & paperwork that all needed re-done.  On March 3, BoPeep kicked off the calving season by delivering a petite little heifer for us.  We were thrilled to be back in milk, but that also means milking every morning now.  Four days later, I went out to find Scarlett suddenly bagged up the whole way & her pin ligaments totally mushy.  That afternoon we had another beautiful heifer on the ground.  What a darling this one is!

BoPeep & Miss Muffet enjoying some spring sunshine.

BoPeep & Miss Muffet enjoying some spring sunshine.

Monday the 9th had the vet back out to the farm to see Rousseau again, and we had the needed test results & paperwork by the end of the week.  Sunday his ride came, and the So-Man headed for Texas.  It was sad to see him go, but he left me with some wonderful parting gifts, in the form of calves.  Two days later, Luna gave birth to a terrific, not-so-little bull calf.  This handsome St. Patrick’s Day boy just missed meeting his wonderful sire.

Wednesday, we got a call from Mr. Zeigler, saying he would be here Friday morning to pick up the horses.  This was one of those times when something just sort of happens “on it’s own” & seems so right…a God thing.  I hate…absolutely abhor…the process one normally has to go through to sell a horse.  But we had decided it was time for the horses to go to another home, as we no longer have had the time or energy to do any riding.

Patrick makes friends with sister Rosie from a safe spot by mom.

Patrick makes friends with sister Rosie from a safe spot by mom.

I don’t remember a day in my life when I didn’t love horses, so this wasn’t an easy decision to come to, and I wanted the mares to go to the “right” person.  And that right person turned out to be a dear Dexter friend in North Dakota.  It all came together quickly & I feel so good about it, I know it was meant to be.  So, Friday morning we loaded up Glory & Chocolate and hauled them out to London, where we met up with the transporter at the truck stop & handed them over for their trip to their new home.

This snow was some seriously deep wading for Shortie!  It was time to move into the barn...for two weeks.

This snow was some seriously deep wading for Shortie! It was time to move into the barn…for two weeks.

Now I finally feel like I’ve been able to catch my breath, and I wish I could say it’s over…but it’s not.  Tuesday the 24th, Miss Shortie Pants will take a trailer ride to Missouri, where Jeff will meet a friend of the Millman’s, who will take her along back to WA to the home of her conception.  She is the only calf that was born from Stefani’s AI attempt with Comet straws, and I believe Stefani can’t wait to get her hands on this girl.  Jeff will be picking up 3 youngsters to bring home, who I am also very excited about.  One is a half-brother to Rousseau out of a high volume milker, to be our new future herdsire.  We’re also getting a pair of heifers sired by Mrald July Joe out of two Galaxy daughters….these girls should milk!

I really hope Tulip waits for her April 1st due date to calve, because I think this will be quite enough action for one month!  You can check out Calf Corner for more photos & info on the babies.

A Bull Market

December 28th, 2014 by Kim
Belle Fourche Rousseau

Belle Fourche Rousseau

*NOTE* 3/15/15 Update:  Rousseau has been sold & has gone to his new home in Texas.  This post remains as an excellent example of how to advertise a mature bull, or what information to look for if you’re buying a bull.

Yes, it’s front page, headline news.

Rousseau is FOR SALE! 

It has not been an easy decision to come to.  He’s been our main man, our foundation herdsire for nearly 5 years, and it’s been wonderful to have such an awesome bull on the farm.  He has done his job, and we’ve been keeping most of his daughters so far, so I’ve been starting to think that it’s time to keep my eyes open for a replacement for him in the next couple years.  I just didn’t think it would be quite this soon!

But push has come to shove, I suppose.  With the purchase of the Headwaters property this fall, and now getting it fenced & water where it needs to be for the cattle, things are a bit tight.  And then it happened.  I found a boy that will make a good replacement for the So-Man….as well as a couple heifers who have killer milk production genetics behind them.  It’s an opportunity I just can’t pass up.  So to make it happen, we have to sell Rousseau, and somebody else will have the opportunity to own this amazing bull.

Rousseau’s sire & dam are from the Circle H herd, and are out of Llanfair bloodlines, which means top-notch breeding for temperament & production traits.  Frederick is an outstanding bull, exhibiting superior muscling & great longevity, being nearly 14 years old & still going strong.  Nutmeg is a nicely built cow, with a well suspended, level udder who produces a solid 3 gallons a day of milk.

Buster, 3/4 Dexter/1/4 Jersey, at 6 months old...a thick bodied, well-muscled bull calf.

Buster, 3/4 Dexter/1/4 Jersey, at 6 months old…a thick bodied, well-muscled bull calf.

As an experienced cattle breeder told me, a bull is not really, fully proven until he is about 5-7 years old.  Sure, you’ll know he can breed cows much sooner than that, and you may even have an idea of the conformational quality of his offspring by the time he’s just a couple years old.  But it will take another couple years, so he’d be at least 4 yrs. old, until his sons are either producing offspring or ready for the butcher shop, and his daughters ready for the milking parlor, and that’s when you learn what sort of production qualities your bull is putting on his get.  Of course, if you want to know what his daughters will be hitting at peak milk production, you have to add another two years until they enter their third lactation, and by that time your bull is at least 6 years old.  So, at this point, Rousseau is a truly proven Dexter bull, and we like what he produces.

His calves have averaged 58 lbs at birth, with the largest ones topping out at 62lbs.  His smallest calf for us has been a 48 lb bull calf out of a smaller-statured cow who has a short gestation.  And that calf was her largest by 10 lbs.!  Rousseau also firmly stamps his excellent, gentle, friendly disposition on all his calves.

NewHope Mignon, a well-built steer.

NewHope Mignon, a well-built steer.

Belle Fourche Cheddar is a fine example of one of Rousseau’s sons who has gone on to become a herdsire.  We were also very pleased with Buster, a bull calf out of our Jersey/Dexter cross cow, BoPeep.  Even though she was VERY Jersey in her build, Buster was a nice broad, stocky, well-muscled weanling when he left here for his new home, where he was to be a breeding bull for a few dairy cows.

Although Rousseau has produced quite a few beef steers, we’ve had only one stay here until slaughter age so far.  Mignon was out of a very refined, feminine, “dairy-type” Dexter cow, but even so he hung at around 315 lbs. when we butchered him at 18 months of age.  Another similar sized steer, out of a beefier cow & a bull close to Rousseau in muscling, that we slaughtered at 24 months of age hung at 330 lbs, so compared to that we were very happy with Mignon’s growth rate.

Ebby's udder, first lactation, a lovely high, tight udder

Ebby’s udder, first lactation, a lovely high, tight udder

Keira, Ebby's dam, at her first freshening

Keira, Ebby’s dam, at her first freshening

Some of Rousseau’s daughters who are in production include Elemental Gracie and Belle Fourche Carmen, both fine examples of Dexter cows with great udders. (Be sure to check out Carmen’s impressive udder attachments by clicking on the “dairy stats” box on her page at Emerald Park!)  We have a few daughters into production, and are pleased with the results.  I have mother/daughter comparison photos here for two of them, showing the difference on their first lactations.  Both heifers have a significantly improved udder, with better fore attachment, a level floor & good suspension, creating a nice high, tight udder.  Teat size & shape is also improved over their dams.  Both Ebony & Tulip are thicker-bodied than their dams, with improved loin strength, as evidenced by their straight, level toplines.

Eavie, Tulip's dam, right before her first calving

Eavie, Tulip’s dam, right before her first calving

Tulip's udder at first freshening, a big improvement

Tulip’s udder at first freshening, a big improvement

Rousseau has a lot to offer…great conformation, a truly excellent temperament, top-notch beef & dairy traits, as well as being homozygous polled & A2/A2.  The improvements he makes in his offspring are what make Rousseau a quality herdsire.  He is also fully parentage verified (sire & dam qualified), which we feel is a very important consideration for a breeding bull…you know what you’re really getting.  For stats, pricing & more photos see his bio page in Stock for Sale.  If you’re interested in putting this excellent bull to work in your herd, please contact us today.

Dexters, and Dolphins, and Whales, Oh My!

November 13th, 2014 by Kim
Dolphins swim alongside our boat.

Dolphins swim alongside our boat.

We’ve been doing some travelling this fall, though not on the Yellow Brick Road, and have actually seen all the above-mentioned animals.  It all started with Jeff’s trip to Seattle for his Boards at the end of October.  I decided to go along, so I could visit my friend Stefani, of Emerald Park Farm, while Jeff was taking tests & attending lectures.  We had a wonderful visit, which was also a great educational opportunity for me, as Stefani is an incredibly knowledgeable Dexter breeder.  It was great to be able to have some of the finer points of conformation explained, with good examples at hand.

Split-Fin & Split-Fluke surface & blow.

Split-Fin & Split-Fluke surface & blow.

After that weekend, we took a couple days & went on up to Anacortes, then took the ferry out to Friday Harbor for a whale-watching tour.  What a fabulous experience!  We were hoping to see some orcas, as they’re common in that area, but though they didn’t show up for us, we did see some other exciting things.  As we were heading out on our tour, the crew explained that there was a pod of Pacific White-Sided Dolphins nearby, which was not a very common occurrence, and that they were quite a lot of fun to see, so they were our first “destination”.  It was estimated to be a group of about 70-80 dolphins, and they were as energetic as the crew had promised.  We spent quite a long time with them playing in the wake of the boat & “bow-riding”…so neat! Read more »

New Ground

September 25th, 2014 by Kim

Yes, we’re adding new ground to the farm!

This summer we were made aware that a neighbor just a mile back the road from us was selling her old family farm.  It’s a beautiful property with about 20-25 acres of open, rolling, grassy hillside…just begging to have cattle grazing it.  There is a small house, built fairly recently on the site of the old homeplace, and a nice pond.  Rader Creek, for which our road is named, finds it source at a spring on this land.  We jumped on the opportunity & made the purchase, as we are tight on pasture at our place, and are now in the process of getting it fenced & ready for cows.

So, here’s introducing Headwaters Farm!

Headwaters House from the road

Headwaters House from the road

Read more »

Our Fly Season Arsenal

June 30th, 2014 by Kim

It’s fly season again, and how I hate the pesky little buggers!  They bite & bother cow & human alike, and can make farm life miserable.  Not to mention, the stress of dealing with flies can actually decrease milk production & weight gain in our cattle.  So how do we deal with flies?  Here are some things that we have in our arsenal.

A face covered with flies is NOT a pretty sight.

A face covered with flies is NOT a pretty sight.

As the saying goes, “the best offense is a good defense”, so our first strategy is prevention.  We try to eliminate fly “breeding grounds” by cleaning up manure, as well as wet/soiled hay, near the barn.  The infamous “manure pile” is in the chicken pen, and the girls happily dig through for bugs & goodies, turning the composting pile in the process.  Pastures get dragged to break up manure pats, and we are also happy to see some smaller varieties of dung beetles moving in to do their work.  Our plan is to be able to move chickens and/or turkeys around in “chicken tractors”, following the cows in their pasture rotation, so the poultry can do the work of raking out manure pats in the pasture & eating any fly larvae they find, but we haven’t gotten quite that far yet.  But without their preferred nice moist manure pats to lay eggs in, the flies don’t get quite so out of control. Read more »