Living in the Southern Ohio foothills of the Appalachians, winters are generally mild; but the week ahead is calling for article blast. This means I have spent most of the weekend preparing – placing out extra hay and staging hay to be dropped into paddocks during the week.
Since acquiring our first Dexters in March 2017, we have learned to improvise. Working a full-time job during the week offers little time for the needed improvements. I keep a list of future projects, and tackle as much as I can on weekends and time off; but as soon as one task is crossed off – another takes it place.
Such is the case with our winter watering system – it is not ideal but we have found a way to make due.
For now our winter watering solution consists of garden hoses, oversize water trough and heater, and extension cord. Once winter sets in, I know that I must meticulously make sure that all the hoses are blown out dry after filling trough and know from past experience that there is chance outside faucet will freeze up. So always make sure troughs are topped off after work. ‘Someday’ I’ll have a more permanent solution but until then our ❤️ for Dexters far outweighs this small winter inconvenience.
My advice to new breeders is to not get discouraged (or let well meaning established breeders discourage you). Your way might not be the ‘right way’, but with limited resources and time, it may be the only way.
Sometimes the answer is right in front of you, just takes time to see it. Such is the case with Whittington George.
George came to us via a bred cow, AA’s Apple, we purchased from Paul Whittington back in 2018. He was birthed on August 30 of that year and plan was for him to go to Dan Edgington, another Ohio breeder, to be steered.
Plans don’t always go as planned. Dan arrived to pick up three of our young bull calves, including George; but George had different plans. He absolutely refused to be loaded. I guess at that point, I should’ve seen what now I see. There was something special about him.
Over the next year, I started noticing how ‘bully’ George was becoming. I also noticed how he quickly was becoming the leader of our herd of cattle, and also noticed that all of our new calves uncannily, did not resemble our herd sire, but George!
Then the wheels started to turn, maybe George was the herd sire for which we were looking? He certainly was ‘bully’, had a great temperament, and obviously throwing great calves.
I then started looking into his pedigree, and much to my surprise there were bulls that I recognized in his pedigree: SGF Sean & Titan, Lone Pines Klondike, White-O-Morn Chief, and Lianfair’s Cinnebar. Now I was starting to see it.
“Expect the unexpected” is an axiom that has become a way of life around the farm.
Last weekend I ordered a pallet hay spear and 3 point hitch spear for our new tractor and planned on this weekend moving the 40 round bales being held for us by a neighbor.
Everything going as expected, and then the unexpected. The neighbor called on Monday to let me know that he would not have any hay for us this year.
After the disappointment (perhaps accompanied by a slight tinge of anger) subsided, I began scurrying the Craigslist classifies to find what was still available in our market. After several desperate calls, we were able to locate 40 4×5 bales of second cutting grass hay just 10 minutes from our house. Then the unexpected, he can’t deliver.
My wife sprang into action and called her Kentucky kin and fortunately we found a double axle trailer to pull behind my 2007 Dodge Ram with nearly 200,000 miles. In this case expecting the unexpected that my truck would break down while moving the hay.
We drove down Friday to her fathers home and there was the trailer which was not quite what we expected. The unexpected once again. One look at the trailer and I knew that we were looking at two days of moving hay.
The pallet fork hay spear arrived as expected on Thursday. Friday I mounted on our RK37 as expected (thank God for quick release setup).
This past Saturday we started moving hay and after seven trips and 10 hours, we got it all moved six bales at a time. The hay supplier was wonderful and we actually ended up with better hay and saved $5.00 per bale. Better yet we have our hay reserved for 2019. Unexpectedly my truck did not break down and I managed to unload all 40 bales unexpectedly without injuring myself or anyone else.
The cattle have different expectations and never really account for the unexpected. Somehow we managed to meet their expectations… hay…hay…hay!
Danny Boy was born on Edgington Farms, Xenia, Ohio and bred by Dan and Cindy Edgington.
Nicknamed Dennis as young calf, he was destined for steerhood when Dan decided to post a photo of him on Facebook. The photo caught my eye, and I have a hunch that Dan too saw something in this young bull calf, but as we know there is not much of a market for bulls and much discussion as to whether there are too many inferior bulls that should’ve been steered.
To make a long story short, I contacted Dan and made arrangements to save Dennis from losing his manhood. He has been tested, christened, and registered as Edgington Farms Danny Boy with the ADCA.
Now at 7 months old, I am very pleased and think we made the right choice to save him from being steered. He is as promising of a young bull as I’ve ever saw with excellent bloodlines.
Danny will be joining our farm soon to become our new sire. Here are a couple of recent pictures of Danny enjoying being a bull.
I suppose that the virgin birth of my Lord and Savior will never be surpassed, and the mystery of the incarnation I’ll never quite understand.
But every time I witness the birth of a new calf, I find myself stricken in awe at the miracle unfolding before my eyes and am reminded of that first Christmas Eve when creation paused as the eternal word became flesh.
The cow journeys to a protected spot much like the archangel led Joseph and Mary to a tiny hamlet by the name of Bethlehem to protect our Savior from his human predators.
There is a lowly stall, and I cannot help to picture a pastoral scene of a stable filled with goats, sheep, and perhaps even cattle watching in awe and wonderment as their Creator becomes flesh and blood.
Soon from Mary’s precious womb the Eternal Son of God appears so frail.
Then I watch as those stable mates – one by one – approach to cast their eyes upon the new born calf and cannot help to be reminded of the Magi guided by a celestial star journeyed to cast their eyes upon the Lamb of God.
Please do not consider this sacrilege but an allegory of the mystery of life.
We have finished culling our herd and selected our best four cows and two promising heifers. Four are bred back to Lucky Charm for 2019 calving season. Next year we will breed back all six to our new young bull, Danny Boy.
Some pictures of our herd and remaining 2018 calves. All our calves have found new homes and will be leaving for their new farms soon.
We are pleased with the progress made in our second year. I love this little herd and look forward to seeing it expand in the years ahead.
As our barn nears completion it is starting to dawn on me today, that it’s not completion but commencement.
My purpose in building a barn were solely utilitarian but discovering quickly that a barn does more than just store stuff around the farm.
It is the heart of the farm. I find myself being drawn to the barn and it’s quickly becoming my rural version of the ‘man cave’.
Not only that but learning that the barn has magical magnetic powers that attract other men folks (and an occasional woman wondering where her husband has wandered off too).
My son, whom I rarely see, visited this past weekend and I noticed that the barn with its strong gravitational pull, pulled both of us into it’s inner sanctuary. Where we were able for a time to escape and catch up.
My father-in-law, a 95 year old veteran of WW II, has fallen under its magical spells. He happened to be in the barn the morning my son, a recently retired US Army Captain, showed up. I watched as soldiers from vastly different generations bonded in the barn.
Our barn is not being completed, it is commencing. Ready for commissioning as the gathering place to bring the people who are dearest to me together.