Adorable, Curious, Smart, Charming, Inquisitive, Playful, Affectionate, Goofy, Endearing, Cute, Fun & Definitely Not Camera Shy.
Meet FullCircle George! George is a polled, RED, Dexter bull calf. He was born on July 15th, 2015, the 2nd of 2 bull calves born on our farm this year. George is out of our beautiful polled, dun cow FullCircle Eloise and sired by the renowned polled, red Dexter bull Hillview Red Wing. This little man may just be our first future bull prospect!
On the night of May 28th, @ 10 pm to be precise, we were once again witness to the miracle of birth. Our first Dexter calf of 2015 was born that night. Our matriarch momma cow Belle Fourche Merrideth, @ the age of 11, was preparing to give birth to her 9th calf. Experienced. She began her labor, walking, circling, up and then down and then up again. Laboring, contractions, pushing. Contractions getting closer. Lying down, a giant push & the water broke. Up again, walking, circling, up and then down and then up again. Hoof toes appear, then 2 pale colored hooves, soles down… so good to see the correct position. Labor, contractions, pushing. A nose appeared, a pale colored nose & a tongue… so good to see. Quickly there was a head, then shoulders, then a warm wet calf dropped to the straw covered floor. Merrideth spins around, nose to her new baby, licking with earnest. She begins her gentle low chorus of momma moos, encouraging. The calf shakes his head & snorts, eyes open, legs moving. The little dun colored bull calf makes many attempts to rise. 10 minutes later, 4 wobbly legs under him, he stood for the first time. Standing, walking, circling, up and then down and then up again. 5 minutes later he found his momma’s udder, then the teat and then milk. Lovely, warm, powerfully nutritious, life giving, first milk. Mom licks and licks and licks until his beautiful silvery coat is clean & dry. Nap time.
Happy Birthday FullCircle Walter. Welcome to our world.
This is FullCircle Norman. Norman is a 5 month old Dexter bull calf on his way to becoming a steer. He is Dun in color and at 5 months stands 34” tall at the shoulder and tapes @ 300#’s. Norman has been a joy to raise. He is very handsome, smart, friendly, calm and gentle mixed up with a bit of the clown. The other day my husband Bob went out to their turnout at noon to feed the cattle family their hay lunch. Norman was lying down under the hay feeder chewing his cud. The hay was put into the hay rack above him and the other cattle began eating. Norman figured this was a really good gig he had going. He could lay down and the other cows would knock down the best hay for him to eat. Lunch was on the lounge that day! Since Norman is such a fan of National Public Radio, he listens every morning in the barn during morning chores, he has heard numerous stories about the importance of energy conservation. Norman is ALL about energy conservation and helps out whenever he can!
We raise Registered Dexter Cattle on our 18 acre farmstead in NW Oregon, USA. Our small family herd of Dexters spend their days outside on either pasture or in a large turnout area. They are brought into the barn each evening. Every morning begins with the cows. While I am doing barn chores and they begin breakfast, we all listen to NPR together. I have very educated cows that are up to date on the pressing issues of the day! Our farm routine also ends each day with the cows. Us humans always end up sitting on the edge of the cow mangers visiting and catching up on each others day. The cows contentedly munch on their dinner and are happy being the recipients of an ear rub here, a chin scratch there. It is a lovely way to slow down and end the day. The Dexters have been a wonderful addition to our farm. They give us Beef, Dairy products, beautiful Calves, mowing and weed removal services and fertilization, but also hours of fun and a daily laugh at some antic or another!
To enjoy other blog posts about our Dexters follow these links.
Meet FullCircle Lucy the newest member of the FullCircle Farm Dexter herd. Lucy was born in the wee hours of the morning on June 10th. She is a dainty little package with long legs. Lucy weighs 48 pounds and is 24″ tall. She is RED, polled (no horns) and every inch is utter adorableness. Mom Eloise, Baby Lucy, Grandma Merrideth, Sister Maggie & Uncle Norman greatly enjoyed her first day out in the pasture.
6/12/14- the herd
Lucy @ 2 days racing Norman @ 3 weeks.
FullCircle Lucy 2 days old
little calf… big tree
FullCircle Lucy- 2 day old, polled, red, Dexter heifer
Norman was born on May 18th. His breed is a Dexter. His color is Dun. We thought he was Polled (polled meaning that he didn’t have horns and would never grow horns). Well… on day 5 we noticed small little bumps on his head. Putting him in a headlock, we parted his curly locks and there they were, horn buds. Dang… so we took special measures to remove said horn buds. On day 8 of Norman’s young life we once again put him in a head lock, clipped off the curly locks around the buds, placed a pea size bead of a de-horning paste on each bud to kill the horn tissue and then gave him a very manly head wrap of silver duct tape to keep him from rubbing the paste off, and to keep momma from licking it off. He will get to wear his stylish accoutrement for several weeks. After the initial indignation he now seems rather full of himself and is enjoying showing off his special cap. And so Space Boy was born…
Recently, following a blog posting about our Dexter cattle, I received this question-
“Will you retire your old cows and let them live out their days when they no longer produce or will they be sent off?” In response I posted “ This deserves its own blog post as there is no simple or short answer.” Here is that blog post-
This is a great forum to open a dialog. There are many people, many thoughts and beliefs, many ways of doing things. If you you wish to join in on the discussion I ask that you please be respectful of others differing opinions. This is a discussion, not an argument.
We are a farm, a very small farm, a diversified farm raising many different crops and animals. The farm is a system, each part playing a role in the whole. We raise livestock animals as part of that system. The livestock supply food but also fertilizer, mowing, soil improvement and a whole lot of pleasure along with the work. We take good care of them, love and respect them for what they bring to us. But the bottom line, the harsh reality, is that we are a farm and at some point in the lives of livestock sentimentality must be set aside and the animal is harvested for food. We have taken responsibility for the lives of these animals, as well as their deaths. We are there for them thru health and sickness, thru all the seasons and all of the weather those seasons bring. We provide clean, safe, comfortable housing, good feed, pasture, minerals, clean water, shade and shelter. We are there for their births and their deaths. We enjoy the daily interactions with them, laugh at their antics, and honor the lessons they bring to our lives. We are invested in their lives and they in turn provide us, and our customers, with healthy, high quality food.
Birth, Life, Death… it is the road we each will travel. Lets make sure the Life between the Birth & the Death is valued. That care is taken. Not just the basics of food, shelter & health care but also love and affection, respect and humanity.
When raising livestock, the fate of most individuals is known from the beginning, except for the occasional outstanding individual that becomes breeding stock, most are being raised for food. A grayer area, in our minds, is the laying hen, the milk cow, and the breeding stock. Animals who have given a life of service, animals who are with us much longer, animals who we have developed even more of a connection with, an affection for, a bond with. The eventual fate is the same, unless ill, they also become food. A bull calf becomes beef. Fryer chicks become fryers. And so it is for pigs and lambs and goats and multiple other species, they sooner or later become food. They are farm animals. Farms raise food. Whether it is apples, tomatoes, walnuts or beef, it all becomes food.
I was raised on a small farm so I always understood this fact. To those looking in from the outside this may seem cruel. What is actually cruel is the life lived for so many livestock animals raised in the industrial agriculture system. The stark reality is that the lives of many of these animals is deplorable from beginning to end, and we should all be upset with their plight. This is the price paid when the desire for quantity and cheap prices overrides the quality of the animal’s life and the quality of the resulting food product.
On our farm, and many other small farms everywhere, ensuring our animals have a good quality life is paramount. A good farmer concerns themselves with the many details of good livestock husbandry. They provide good quality nutrition, cleanliness, preventative health care (not prophylactic antibiotics), they enhance the environment with their actions not degrade it, treat the animals humanely and with kindness and are very concerned with food safety. There are large numbers of small producers that care deeply about the animals they raise. Support them. It is the purchasing habits of the consumers that determine the lives of the animals they consume. The choices made by the consumer dictate what the market delivers. Abundant and cheap meat often equates with horrific conditions. To take the time and care in the raising of food, whether crops or livestock, is more time consuming, more costly and therefore the end product is more expensive. We vote with our wallet. We pay more for what we value. The consumer ultimately decides-
Know your Farmer…Know your Food.
Feel free to comment on this posting. Express your opinion but Remember- Please be respectful.
Our first calf of 2014 arrived on Sunday evening May 18th. An absolutely adorable, polled, dun, Dexter bull. We have named him Norman. So cute that on his first day out on pasture he is already stopping traffic on the road!
Mom- Merrideth, is a pro at this. She is 10 years old and this was her 8th successful pregnancy and birth. Merrideth is everything a good Dexter should be. She is a great little family cow. She was the cow we chose 5 years ago to start our Dexter herd.
Merrideth had a bit of a rough start to life. She was included in a sale of several other calves & at the tender age of 3 ½ months made a long trip to her new home in Washington state. Her new owners worked very hard to bring her back to good condition. They loved on her and raised her to be a nice young cow. She had 2 heifer calves for them at their farm and then a lease gone wrong had brought her back to their farm where she delivered her 3rd calf several weeks later. They wanted a good home for her, she was special to them as she was there as they were starting their own Dexter breeding program.
In August of 2009 we walked into their pasture to take a look at 3 different prospective cows, all with young calves. This small black cow with a gangly calf instantly caught my eye. There was something about her eyes. They were big, brown and beautiful but I loved how she looked right at us. She stood as we approached, was easily haltered and she spent the next hour, as we humans talked Dexters, not moving, only looking around to keep tabs on her calf & uttering little maternal moo’s. I was smitten. She wasn’t perfect, her udder was wonky, her feet not the best, her conformation OK but not show ring great. We were told “she herself wasn’t of the greatest quality but she had great breeding and she would pass that greatness on to her babies. Chose your bulls well and she will give you really nice calves”. I believed her and took her comment as sincere. That day we purchased our first Dexter.
Merrideth definitely has an opinion and is strong willed. It did take a little while for us to figure each other out and to come to a mutual agreement of how this relationship would work. We soon realized that it was simply her way of asking for respect. When treated with kindness and shown respect she began to thrive. At the age of 10 she is beautiful, healthy, happy and showing no signs of slowing down. She has been a patient teacher to us as we learn about the world bovine. She is a wonderful Mom to her calves. Caring for but not hovering, allowing her kids to experience their world and grow into who they are. Keeping them safe but letting them go. You’ve got to respect that.
Stefani was right, chose good bulls for her and she will give you beautiful calves. Merrideth has done just that. All 5 of her calves born here have been physically better than herself; more correct, nice udders, good feet. She has passed on the good genetics to them but also that something special, that something ‘Merrideth’.
In 2009 I was doing research on breeds of cattle looking for one to add to our small farm. We ultimately chose the American Dexter. Originating in Ireland, this small stature, dual-purpose breed had all the characteristics that I was looking for. With mature cows weighing in around 700#’s and standing approximately 40” at the shoulder they seemed a perfect fit for us and our small farm.
For a family cow a Dexter will produce a manageable quantity of high butterfat milk, 1-2 gallons per day is common. Our family milk needs are much less so I chose to milk once a day and only take what is needed in the kitchen. Sharing with the calf allows me access to wonderful milk as well as providing the calf with a great start in life. A Dexter for beef will produce about 400#’s of tender and lean, well marbled, dark red beef in smaller portion cuts from a 24 month old steer. They are economical to keep and return a high percentage of food product for their size when compared to larger breeds.
Dexters are the perfect breed choice for a small acreage family cow. Beautiful, gentle and friendly, easy to train and to handle. Their diminutive size makes them a great livestock project for children and a pleasure to work with for small women or older adults. Dexter’s are hardy, long-lived and are known as great mothers and easy calvers.
Our Dexter’s have been a wonderful addition to our farm. They are great fun and bring us immense pleasure as well as beautiful calves, wonderful dairy products and healthy beef.
We occasionally offer for sale high quality registered breeding stock heifers. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in adding a FullCircle heifer to your farm!
Thank You for visiting our site.
Cathy & Bob
Merrideth & Oscar
Sherman at 1 week.
Belle Forche Merrideth w/ FullCircle Sophie at 3 months
FullCircle Oscar @ 24 months
Sherman @ 1 year
FullCircle Sophie at 4 months
FullCircle Eloise at 1 year
FullCircle Sophie @ 2 wks.
FullCircle Sophie newborn.
Oscar at 3 weeks
FullCircle Maggie at 3 days
FullCircle Eloise at 2 years
FullCircle Eloise refereeing Sophie & Maggie
Belle Fourche Merrideth @ 9 years
Sophie & Maggie
Belle Forche Merrideth at 5 years, with Bones
FullCircle Sophie at 3 months
FullCircle Eloise @ 2 yrs. close to term with FullCircle Maggie
Oscar at 1 week
FullCircle Maggie at 3 days
Merrideth & Oscar
FullCircle Maggie at 2 months
Belle Fourche ‘Mom & Grandma’ Merrideth the playground monitor.