A New Year on the Farm

January 31st, 2018 by Kim

Weanling heifers out in the snow.

It’s hard to believe we’re already into a new year.  January graced us with one big, beautiful snow, and that’s quite enough for me….winter can be over now.  But the Dexters don’t seem to mind a bit & just stand out in it, letting the snow pile up on their backs.

More exciting for me, Bonnie has kicked off the calving season with a lovely, spunky little heifer.  I’m very happy with the looks of little Lady Bonita, and Bonnie is just cranking out the milk.  This is one of my favorite parts of having cows.  You can check “Calf Corner” throughout the year to see all the new arrivals.

Belle Fourche Mon Bonbon & her new calf, Lady Bonita.

2017: A Year of Surprises

December 27th, 2017 by Kim

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from Hope Refuge Farm!

A not-so-white Christmas in KY.

I’ve had a rough year personally, so have ended up taking an extended break from writing again.  It’s time to catch up!  At this time of the year it’s natural to look back over the last 12 months, and oh, how things can change!  A lot has happened with my herd in a year’s time.  It’s been a year of surprises…mostly good, but some not-so-good as well.  Here are some of the good surprises I’ve encountered in 2017.

Due to changes, I’ve started hand-milking my Dexters this year instead of machine-milking.  I was pleasantly surprised that it doesn’t cause too much pain in my hands.  I’ve come to enjoy milking by hand & the close contact with my cows.

After the way things went with Janie last year (see the previous post below), it was a delightful surprise to have her decide she was actually a milk cow after all!  She calved in July, and I’ve been milking her by hand ever since…without any kicking.  In fact, she has become my “go-to” milker this fall.

This summer, young Thomas went to spend some time with a small herd that belongs to some friends of mine.  When I picked him up again 4 months later, I was amazed at how much he had grown, filled out & muscled up.  It appeared I had taken them a lanky, teenage boy and brought home a mature, young man.  Quite a nice surprise indeed!

RdoubleD Schmoozer (“Mooch”), my fabulous new herd sire. Yes, he really is that deep-bodied! The grass is only hiding his feet in this photo.

I was also surprised by how many cow-purchasing opportunities came my way through the year.  Opportunities just too good to pass up.  Therefore, I have quite a few exciting new additions to the herd.  High Pines Charlie came home with me from the AGM in June.  Ginger & her daughter Fancy were bought from friends nearby when they had to sell their herd.  I bought Mooch from Monica in WA, and she twisted my arm into taking Stacia & Show Time as well (haha…she didn’t have to twist hard!).  An ADCA member in PA contacted me to let me know she was selling her Old Orchard cow, and you don’t come across one of those every day!  And last but not least, I acquired Cara & Delight from my friends at That One Farm in Center, KY.  You can see them all in the Herdbook & find out more about them.

And now to get ready for 2018!

 

A Problematic Month

September 30th, 2016 by Kim

I love my Dexters!  Anybody who talks to me about them will quickly see that.  As a hardy heritage breed, they are known for not having much in the way of problems with health, breeding or calving.  It’s one of many things that we really love about them.  But no breed is 100% free of problems.  Sometimes management or diet related issues can cause health problems.  And then there are always those individual animals, that for whatever reason have a weakened immune system or some other issue that makes them more prone to problems.  And sometimes, crap just happens!

Janie's lovely udder, 2 weeks after calving.

Janie’s lovely udder, 2 weeks after calving.

Apparently, August was my month for major problems with my Dexters.  And on top of the cows, the Anatolian pups have also been experiencing bone-growth related issues common to large breed pups.  So I feel a bit like I was in crisis mode the whole month…not fun.  Now that I’ve had a chance to catch my breath, here are the two big “Dex-asters” I faced.

Janie Gets a  Chance

CPR July Jane was due with her first calf mid-August.  Even though Dexters are known for having few calving difficulties, I usually keep a close eye on my girls when they’re getting close to calving, especially my heifers.  I put them in the barn overnight so I can check on them easily, and if there IS a problem they’re in a convenient spot.  Janie had started bagging up & getting ready early, so was being put to bed in the barn at the beginning of the month already.  I put her in on the evening of the 4th just like normal, but didn’t see any significant changes to put me on high-alert…so I didn’t check on her during the night.  We got up to a dead calf on the ground the next morning…and will never know what went wrong or why, or if I could have changed the outcome by being there.  Janie had been AI’ed to Belle Fourche Clay, and the calf was a red heifer, so I was extremely disappointed. Read more »

A Positively Great AGM

June 30th, 2016 by Kim

Yes, the ADCA 2016 AGM was just that!  There was such a positive atmosphere about the whole thing, that it really & truly was a fun, exciting weekend.  Some very positive things came out of the Board Meeting and we had an Annual General Meeting without any major controversy.  However, the thing that stands out to me as the biggest positive was the judging at the show.

This year we had two excellent, highly qualified judges for the Youth & Adult shows.  They are both coaches for the KSU Livestock Judging Team, who absolutely know their stuff, and did a fabulous job explaining the good & bad they saw in each animal.  It was quite a change from the typical “beef breed” judges that have normally been acquired for our AGM’s.  A great, positive change, if you ask me.  Finally, our Dexters were judged as DUAL-PURPOSE animals, based primarily on their CONFORMATION. Read more »

Our New Team Members

May 29th, 2016 by Kim

Early this spring, we decided we needed some new help around the farm.  The current members of the team were not doing their job to our satisfaction any longer.  This resulted in the death of about a dozen laying hens over the course of a week.  What happened?  We had a pair of coons getting into the chicken coop overnight, and our two old farm mutts couldn’t have cared less.  Thankfully, Jeff was able to kill the one coon a few nights into the massacre, and a neighbor killed the second one a few days later.  The coop was gone over with a fine-toothed comb & tightened up, and the hens were safe once more…for the time being.

The new Anatolian pups: Batu, standing front left, and Demir sitting.

The new Anatolian pups: Batu, standing front left, and Demir sitting.

But, it convinced us that we needed some livestock guardian dogs who would do the job right.  LGD’s were something we’ve talked about over the years, but since we never had any real predator issues, we never pursued the idea.  A couple weeks after the chicken massacre, a friend a few hours north of us announced the birth of 11 Anatolian pups out of her breeding pair.  BINGO!  We reserved two males as soon as possible, and they came home with us on May 18, at 8 1/2 weeks of age.  Since the Anatolian is a Turkish breed, we decided on Turkish names for them…Batu, meaning “strong”, and Demir, meaning “iron”.  We hope they live up to their names. Read more »