AGM Success

July 7th, 2015 by Kim

As I mentioned in May, we went to the AGM in Harrisonburg, VA in June.  As always, it was a wonderful time with Dexter friends, renewing previous connections and making new ones too.  Unlike the previous two AGM’s we attended, this time I took some animals to show, so I experienced things from a different angle this year.  There are several success stories from the weekend that I would like to share.

My show string (L to R):  Tundra, Jammy, Porter and Charlie.  All dolled up & ready to go, learning about standing tied in the barn all day.

My show string (L to R): Tundra, Jammy, Porter and Charlie. All dolled up & ready to go, learning about standing tied in the barn all day.

The Show

The show Friday was rather small, with not so many people making the trip across the mountains with animals, so a bit disappointing.  But it was a great first-time-ever showing experience for me.  I had simple goals….to have fun, to see if my training method had worked, and to learn how some of the best animals in my herd compare to others from some of the top breeders in the nation.

The first goal was definitely accomplished!  In spite of being worried & doing a fair bit of fretting the evening & morning before the show, I DID have a lot of fun getting out there in the ring with my animals.

Jammy & I waiting to line up for her class, Jr. Yearling Heifer.

Jammy & I waiting to line up for her class, Jr. Yearling Heifer.

The second goal is a big part of the reason I had fun in the ring.  My training absolutely worked, and if I must say so myself, my animals were the best behaved ones there!  In each class I was in, my animals were surrounded by other animals who were balking, dancing & spinning around and at times bumping into my animal, and some just in general acting like total fools.  I was SO proud that in each case, my animal remained calm, focused on what I was asking them to do and stood quietly to be presented to the judge.  Even though it was their first time ever in a show ring, with scary new objects, voices over the loudspeakers & lots of strange people, they did not freak out or become obstinate.  This is the way it should be!

The third goal was also a success.  I wasn’t really expecting my animals to place in their classes.  My bull calf, Charlie, and my steer calf, Porter, each were in a class consisting of three animals.  They both placed third in their class.  Jammy, my junior yearling heifer, was #8 in a class of nine.  She had a lot of tough competition.  Tundra, my senior yearling heifer, took the third place ribbon in her class of four.  That all may not sound like much of a success, but my goal was not to win.  I accomplished my goal of learning what traits I need to work on in my breeding, by seeing how my animals compared to the others.

This photo of Sara & Tundra won third place in the Cow/Calf category in the photo contest.

This photo of Sara & Tundra won third place in the Cow/Calf category in the photo contest.

I am so glad I decided to do this!  It was an incredibly valuable learning experience, and I would strongly encourage others to take advantage of the showing opportunities you may have.

The Photo Contest

This is perhaps not a huge part of the AGM, but it is such a neat way for anybody to participate, even if you can’t attend.  There were a lot of excellent entries in the photo contest and it was fun to see everybody’s pictures of their animals.  I was pleased to come home with two ribbons from the contest, a third place & a first.  With all the stiff competition, that feels like a success.

The Annual Meeting

This photo of me milking Trixie took the first place ribbon in the Milking & Working Dexters category.

This photo of me milking Trixie took the first place ribbon in the Milking & Working Dexters category.

After the cattle sale Saturday morning, there was a lecture given by Dr. Phillip Sponenberg about breed conservancy & genetics.  It was quite informative, with good questions & discussion from the members in attendance, and he addressed a lot of the genetic “issues” facing Dexter breeders.  Dr. Sponenberg made repeated comments like “you need to agree to disagree”, “treat each other with respect”, “be civil!” and “work together”, indicating that we need to accept all the differences within the breed and that to continue squabbling over things will only hurt the breed.

His lecture was a great lead-in to the Annual Meeting, which happened shortly afterwards, with the vote on the female genotyping proposal on the agenda.  The floor was open for comment & discussion before the vote, and amazingly enough, everybody took Dr. Sponenberg’s urging to heart.  The discussion remained civil & respectful.  THAT was a huge success indeed!  And of course, the biggest success of all, in my opinion, is that the genotyping proposal was approved.  The membership of the ADCA has made their voice heard, with a large majority being in favor of moving our breed forward in this manner.  I definitely feel like celebrating!

Genotyping & Parent Verification

May 15th, 2015 by Kim

I’m sure most ADCA folks are aware that there is a proposal for the Association to begin requiring genotyping for heifers, so that we can move to a fully parent verified registry.  I understand that this is controversial, but I hope that people will see the wisdom of it.  We here at Hope Refuge Farm have been genotyping & parent verifying our entire herd for quite a few years now, because we firmly believe it is “best practice”, and definitely in the best interest of the breed.

Like father, like son.

Like father, like son.

So, you ask, WHY should we have to do this?  I have heard of several situations where somebody tried to PV (parent verify) a cow they bought, and mistakes in the pedigree were discovered.  One or both of the cow’s parents were not who they thought they were, so the person did not have the bloodlines they thought they had bought for their herd.  I, for one, want to know that when I purchase an animal, it is indeed the animal & bloodlines that the breeder has claimed it is, and PV is the only way to be certain of that.

Hello Sister!  Sometimes it's easy to tell your calves apart.....but sometimes it isn't.

Hello Sister! Sometimes it’s easy to tell your calves apart…..but sometimes it isn’t.

We all like to think that all Dexter breeders are decent, honest folk, who wouldn’t deceptively register a crossbred animal.  While that may for the most part be true, I feel it is foolish to count on “breeder integrity” to ensure the purity of our breed and the accuracy of our pedigrees.  For one, you can be perfectly decent & honest, and still make a mistake.  Secondly, there are people who are decent & honest, but are still sloppy about their management, record keeping, ID’ing, etc, and for all practical purposes really have no clue who is the dam or sire of a given calf.  And thirdly, the reality of human nature is simply that we are not all decent & honest, it’s just a fact of life.  And all of this will lead to pedigrees that are INCORRECT.

Why does that really matter, you may wonder?  Well, certain bloodlines are known for producing animals with particular, desirable traits, such as better hindquarter muscling, higher volume milk production, and exceptional temperaments.  If you purchased an animal because you want those traits, and then were to find out that the pedigree is incorrect & she doesn’t have the desired bloodline you thought she did, that could throw quite a wrench in your breeding plans.

Are you my mother?  Sara wouldn't dream of letting another calf nurse, but some cows will, which can make it hard to know who belongs to who.

Are you my mother? Sara wouldn’t dream of letting another calf nurse, but some cows will, which can make it hard to know which calf belongs to which cow.

Even more important is the issue of obligate non-carrier status for chondro & PHA.  Right now the way things are, if you have a bull & a cow who are both tested as non-carriers for either lethal mutation, you may claim that their offspring is an “obligate” non-carrier….WITHOUT ANY PROOF THAT THE CALF’S PEDIGREE IS ACCURATE.  If somebody has carrier & non-carrier animals on their property & would make the mistake of claiming a non-carrier parent when it was actually a carrier parent, that could prove to be a devastating mistake.  I feel that this is poor policy that leaves us with undue risk, and we would be much better off requiring PV to obtain obligate non-carrier status.

Play time!  Having multiple bulls on the farm requires careful management & good records, so you know who sires which calves.

Play time! Having multiple bulls on the farm requires careful management & good records, so you know who sires which calves.

So, what can you do to make a difference?  First of all, begin genotyping & PV’ing your Dexters.  The proposal will only require heifers born from 2016 on to be genotyped, but I would encourage you to do your older cows as well.  The more older animals that get done, the more accuracy we can have if mistakes get fixed.  Second, please vote “YES” on this proposal at the AGM in June.  If you can’t make it to Harrisonburg in person, send your proxy vote along with somebody you trust.

We will be attending the AGM, with a few of our youngsters in tow this time.  I’m going to give showing a whirl & see how it goes!  Hope to see you there.  But if not, I can take your proxy vote for you!

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! Read more »

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! Read more »

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 »