Giving Thanks on the Farm

November 25th, 2015 by Kim

As we come upon this Thanksgiving holiday, I find we have so much to be thankful for here on the farm…some of them being things that maybe most people don’t get to experience.

"Thanksgiving", the turkey

“Thanksgiving”, the turkey

We actually, unfortunately, didn’t put any effort into the turkey breeding season this spring, and didn’t get nest boxes set up for the hens until much too late.  In spite of that, Millie managed to hatch out & raise one nice poult for us.  And we are very thankful for that one, because I don’t think we’ll ever be able to eat a commercially raised turkey again now that we know what “real” turkey is supposed to taste like.  The poult was immediately dubbed “Thanksgiving”, and she grew into a nice little bird who lived well until yesterday, the Tuesday before the holiday.

Jeff was off work, so it was butchering day.  We only had the one bird to do, and I had heard people say that dry-plucking is easier/nicer than scalding & doing it wet, so I decided to try it instead of setting up all the normal equipment.  Yeah…well…if anybody ever tries to tell you that dry-plucking is easier…DON’T LISTEN!  We got most of the larger body, tail & wing feathers off fairly quickly, only to find that she was covered in pin feathers too, and the smaller feathers on the wings & legs were not coming out easily at all.  I soon decided I was ready to see if the tap water in my milking parlor was hot enough to scald a bird.  I didn’t even take the time to bother with a pot, I just plunked her in the clean sink & ran wide-open-hot tap water over the carcass.  I knew my water out there was really hot but never measured a temperature on it.  Thankfully, I can now report that it is indeed “scalding hot”.  Soon those remaining feathers were easily removed, and I had a nice, clean bird.  Good to know.

The new dining table & chairs...our 25th anniversary present to ourselves.

The new dining table & chairs…our 25th anniversary present to ourselves.

And so, “Thanksgiving” will be joining us for dinner on Friday (since Joel has classes at college yet on Wednesday & can’t drive home until Thursday) at our lovely new dining table.  I’m so thankful to have a new table & chairs, as our old table was literally about to fall apart after 25 years of hard use.

We were also extremely thankful for our woodstove earlier this week.  Our main heater quit & needed repaired, so things were a bit chilly for a day & a half, but not half so chilly as it would have been without a nice fire roaring in the stove.  At least it happened now, and not in the middle of really cold winter weather!  And thankfully, we have a shed full of firewood stacked up for the winter…a lovely sight.

Cows on the lower bit of the newly fenced pasture.

Cows on the lower bit of the newly fenced pasture.

Another lovely sight is a barn full of hay for the cows.  We also were able to fence another large section of pasture on the Headwaters property this fall, so we are thankful to have plenty for the cows to eat this winter.  And it’s a really good thing we do, because it allowed me to make a spur of the moment purchase recently.  Yes, I’ve added more cows to the herd…again.  These girls hail from RdoubleD Ranch out in WA, and they are really something!  I’m so excited to have them, and here’s why.

RdoubleD heifer...cute as a bug!

RdoubleD heifer…cute as a bug!

I first saw Lucky listed for sale a few years ago, and though I really would have liked to have her, at that time there was no way I could make the purchase.  I kept going back to their website & looking at her & wishing, but told myself that if somebody else bought her, then it just wasn’t meant to be.  And if I was meant to have her, then she would still be available when we were able to buy her.  After a while, Lucky was taken off the market & retained in the RdoubleD herd, and I breathed a sigh of relief.  She got tucked away in the back of my mind & life went on.  Then recently, I learned that Monica was downsizing the herd, so I thought I’d check their website again to see what she might have available.  And lo & behold, there was Lucky, listed for sale!  I am so, SO thankful to have the opportunity to finally buy this girl.  She truly is an amazing Dexter!

Lucky (dun) and Addy (black) enjoying some sunshine.

Lucky (dun) and Addy (black) enjoying some sunshine.

Well, I figured if I’m shipping Lucky the whole way from WA, she might as well have some company for the 2,500 mile trip, right?!  So now I also officially have a cow Addiction…such an appropriate name.  And for good measure, Monica added in a weanling heifer that she hadn’t had time to do anything with, who is as yet unnamed.  They had some pretty rough weather to travel through last week, but thankfully they made it safe & sound, and are settling into their new home nicely.  I am quite thankful to be able to bring in three girls of such high quality to my herd, as they will be a big benefit to our breeding program.  I look forward to the improvement they will bring.

So, there are some of the “farmy” things we are Giving Thanks for this year.


What’s New?

September 21st, 2015 by Kim
Introducing Thomas (behind) & Patrick (in front).

Introducing Thomas (behind) & Patrick (in front).

It’s the first day of fall & we have our first of three fall calves on the ground already.  So, what else is new around Hope Refuge Farm this fall?  Well, we have some exciting stuff going on!  For the first time in our 8+ years of raising Dexters, our breeding program has produced some bull calves that we feel are high enough quality to be kept & registered as breeding bulls.  Not just one, but two exceptional boys.  That is exciting for us, because we can see our breeding program moving forward & our calves improving in quality.  What’s really neat is that these two boys were born within weeks of their sire, Rousseau, leaving the farm for his new home.  So, we are happy & proud to introduce Patrick & Thomas!

NewHope St Patrick’s Luck

Patrick is such a handsome, solid bull calf.

Patrick is such a handsome, solid bull calf.

We were impressed with Patrick from birth.  He was structurally correct, and a nice stout, solid calf, with the wonderful disposition that Rousseau so faithfully passes on.  He has grown into a handsome looking weanling who is quite the mellow boy.  His dam is a wonderful Legend cow with a good strong udder & a sweet, friendly temperament.

Patrick, square & correct.

Patrick, square & correct.

Patrick seems to be a nice combination of Rousseau & Tama Titanium, his maternal grandsire.  Patrick is homozygous polled also, so all his calves will be polled…no worries about dehorning!  We are pleased to offer Patrick for sale, and you can learn more about him on his page in the Sale Barn.

NewHope Thomas Jefferson

Thomas is really new around here!  He is a product of our breeding program, but he wasn’t born here.  We sold Trixie as a bred cow & kept in touch with her new owners.  Curious to see how our linebreeding experiment worked, we were anxious to see little 3 month old Thomas Jefferson, as they had dubbed him, when we delivered Euchee Creek’s Red Lamont to their farm.  I was immediately fairly certain that Thomas was built even better than Patrick, and that has proven to be true now that we see them side-by-side.  We picked up Thomas last week & brought him home, so the brothers are making friends with each other.

Thomas looks like a smaller version of stocky!

Thomas looks like a smaller version of Rousseau…so stocky!

We are really impressed with this little man.  Trixie doesn’t seem to have passed any of Ladybell’s faults along, and so Thomas appears to be all Frederick.  He is quite the stocky fellow, with Rousseau’s super sweet, friendly disposition.  It will be very interesting to see how he matures.  I do think Thomas will be here to stay for a while!   A big, huge “thank you!” to Dan & Tara for allowing us to purchase him back.

Thomas has excellent width between the legs.

Thomas has excellent width between the legs.


We have also made some fun changes to the website over the summer, if you haven’t noticed them yet.  Check out the “Sale Barn” page to find animals for sale.  What’s new in the sale barn?  We now have a page dedicated to AI semen sales.  Rousseau is the only bull from which we currently have straws available, but check back for future additions…and that’s all I can say right now!

We’ve also expanded the “Breeding Program” page to include listings of our Foundation Cows & Herdsires Past.  We decided this was a good way to give a place of honor to the animals that have been important influences on our herd.  It will showcase the Dexters that have since moved on, who have made our herd what it is today.  Hope you enjoy!

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. Read more »

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. Read more »

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 »