A most exciting plan

I am hatching a plan. You know I have been thinking of buying a bull. Now don’t go getting all upset again. Just listen for a minute. Without a bull I am dependent on OTHER people to breed my cows, using AI, this is not sustainable. These people work, they are far away, it is always a panic and NOT always successful. And I am not breeding for a pedigree I am breeding for beef and milk.  AI is so fraught with difficulty when you live so far out. I always have trouble – every year. So – as I am not afraid of taking risks – (or heights) –

climbing wall

How about a Little Bull.

“Oh come now Cecilia”, I hear you say, “they don’t stay little for long, you know.”

Maybe they do. How about a  bull who will not grow any bigger than the kitchen table. A gentle and very small giant. What do you know about Irish Dexter cattle?  They are a small old Irish breed. Really small. There are not many of them but they are grown for both milk and meat and all my research points to the reassuring fact that a mature Dexter bull could cover my Dutch-Belted/Holstein cross Lady Astor and Aunty Del (the Ayrshire)  if necessary.  (Though Naomi will still endure the AI treatments in the hopes of producing a belted Dutch Belted calf.)    Dexters are half the size of a regular cow but eat half as much and are such good mothers that they will readily adopt another calf. The pure breds will grow to be about as tall as a kitchen bench – up to 42 inches (110 cm) .  My crossed animals will be a bit taller. A cross with a full Dairy cow will give me a beefier bull calf for beef or a good heifer for milking and more chance of an easy calving. AND an animal who is easier on my pastures, gentle and small.

So TA DAAA I have  bought a 6 month old Dexter bull calf – he is coming next week PLUS a bred Dexter heifer. YES! When he is Two he will be big enough to breed my girls (and his own girl even earlier than that). I am excited.

I will keep and milk my big house cows (Lady Astor and Aunty Del and Naomi) but will be breeding smaller animals, saleable easy to manage house cows. I will also milk Alex (the new heifer) she is bred to a miniature Angus/Hereford cross bull so we will be the United Nations of cow herds. And on the side we will be breed a few pure bred Dexters to sell as well.

There is one hiccup with this breed if it is pure. The breed itself was created by selective breeding for smaller and smaller animals and this has caused some mutations in the gene which can cause miscarriages of abnormal fetus’s.  The people I am working with have not seen this problem occur in recent years because this is more likely in the short legged Dexters. Both of my new animals are the Long Legged variety.  I don’t particularly need a mini animal I just want a bull of a manageable size. Our new heifer (her name is Alex) is a bonus.  The wee bull will be called Carlos IV.  (Carlos the Fourth).

The milk is wonderful, they say, plus the meat is lean and we will not be producing huge mammoth amounts of beef. I just don’t need that much meat.

So how about THAT for a plan!  And I know of a woman who has one of these little guys and he breeds Holsteins for a dairy farm. Though surely he must carry his own bull stool! (Maybe Ton can carry the stool for our new boy.)

Remember that my plan is to grow enough food to keep my families fed. And to be sustainable I will not overload my land.  So from now on any extra female animals will be grown with lots of handling,  then sold to other little farms to be house cows (I  have had enquiries already) – small scale farming is a growth industry in this country.  And if you have two acres you can run a Dexter and her calf!


I am still in training but I am making my own breeding decisions now and it feels good!

The other day we went Climbing. I love Climbing Walls and can get myself up to the top gently and carefully without much effort as long as the wall is not too hard but Hugo just soared up and down like a monkey. He literally walked up the walls.

We had a great day yesterday with out hostess with the mostest Kristy from Family Food Adventures.


She is a tough little climber herself!

Lots of love,




70 Comments on “A most exciting plan

  1. Good morning, c! So while you’re climbing the wall, you’re thinking bull, eh? Sounds like a jolly plan to me. 🙂 >

  2. What an excellent plan! f you’d been going for just dairy I’d have said a Jersey, but Dexters are even smaller and versatile, and as you say, they’ll be gentler on your grazing. I look forward to meeting both of them online!

  3. That sounds like a great plan. I used to have a girlfriend who was very keen to breed Dexters – I’ve heard very good things about them 🙂

  4. Well I think it’s an exciting plan 😀 Can’t wait to meet the new farmy members. Also, I love climbing, and completely know what you mean about monkey children. You should see Chloe climb up that climbing wall…sideways…upside down…standing on her head even!!!

  5. Your news justified the suspense! Dexters are popular in Britain, and the meat is sought after for posh restaurants.
    I’m glad you had a good time at the climbing wall. Both my offspring and grandson number 2 are climbers and I enjoy … watching.
    love, ViV xox

  6. Just never forget he is a bull and can do the same as a full sized bull. He is still stronger than you and has big bull thoughts. If you are worried about him being able to cover the larger cows you just need an area in the pasture/pen that has a depression for the cow to get into. You (and a helper or two) may need to assist the first time until he and the cow get the point of the depression’s use. I’ve seen it done with using young bulls and mature cows, usually with someone in control of each party. But that could have been because of the value of the animals involved. Dexters are an interesting breed, their shape kind of reminds me of the Scottish Highlands without all the hair. I think that should be your next addition, Scottish Highlands, the calves are so stinking cute. They are FUZZY. You can truly become the United Nation of Cow Herds or at least the northern/western European contingent.

    • When I was young a friend of my mothers was killed by her bull. She was a very, very capable and experienced cattle-woman in her 60’s who had managed a big sheep and cattle station for years. I am only telling you this so you will know that I have seen what a bull can do and I will NEVER EVER treat them with anything but respect and caution. There is a rule on every farm I have been on in New Zealand – DO NOT walk through the bulls paddock. So don’t worry. I will be more than careful. Thank you for the tip about a depression in the ground, that is a good idea. c

      • That was also the rule on my grandparents’ farm in Australia and even I from the earliest age I can remember knew it.

  7. Dexters are great! Much more efficient to grow out an animal that is not all leg. Lots of folks have them up here in Maine where very small family farms are more the rule than the exception.

  8. Wall climbing – aha. What an adventure you had: Super super shots with lion-hearted Celi (and Kristy and Hugo) hanging on (in?) the wall…
    Your new Dexters: Whatever you do must be or better will be right. And I am looking forward to all that beautiful shots to come of all that beautiful animals mingling on the Farmy in the future. What a big name: Carlos IV. Sounds great.
    My question’s just : Would you be able to manage all that extra work all by yourself and – in summer – with the Whoofers ? It seems to be way to much work for one person alone. Or would you have to employ someone? Time will show how it works…. – Anyway it’s getting interesting and for sure very exiting.
    Happy succeeding!

    NB – what is a bull stool? A throne for King Carlos IV?

  9. I’m so happy and excited for you regarding your purchase of a bull – a ‘smaller than usual’ bull who can still ‘do all that’s required of him’!! ; o ) Sounds like you have quite a plan for breeding your cows – and we’re all looking forward to hearing all about it!! About climbing – I’m so impressed. I think I could’ve done it…. maybe…. perhaps… when I was younger, more agile and ‘less heavy’. It must be fun!!

  10. You’re hilarious! That’s not a plan, Ms C. Once action is seen, then you have gone beyond ‘plan’….. heh heh Wiki has a small article about Dexter cows. I looked because I’ve not heard of them before, but seems they’re becoming more and more popular, particularly with smaller sustainable farms. And it appears you’re better off with the long-legged variety, as the short-legged ones are the result of some form of dwarfism. Nothing wrong with that, I guess, except they seem to have other problems associated with that as well. All said, though, a bull does weighs in at about 1,000 lbs., so still a force to be reckoned with. What fun… a new focus on the farmy — Best Wishes! ~ Mame 🙂

  11. Good morning,

    When I looked at the header picture with my bleary early morning eyes, I could have sworn that Hugo was placing the climbing rocks on the floor of the garage as the ceiling of the climbing place looks kind of like the interior of the garage doors. I thought you were making your own climbing wall, but then why would it be on the floor? I was confused…ha The Dexter sounds good. Question: If they are shorter, will he be able to “reach” Aunty Del and Lady Astor for breeding? Or is that why you mention a stool? Still confused, I guess. ha You’re going to need another milking machine! Happy Friday/Saturday to the Fellowship.

  12. Ton will love having more cows to stare down and herd. I can hear him thinking “I need a stick”.

    • Interestingly Ton is useless with herding cows, he always runs across in front of them to get to the other side, and has been actually trodden on by cows in the past – slow learner – so I leave him inside and use Boo for those jobs.. Boo is much better even in the last month or so. c

  13. We had a very handsome Dexter bull visitor our farm a year ago. He was a gentleman and took care of all our needs (well, all our cows needs) but to his dismay, he couldn’t quite reach our Jersey. He was diligent in his attempts but just coudn’t muster enough height. He was great with the other cows and they produced wonderful meaty calves. But we ended up having to AI our Jersey.

  14. Irmi, read Kim’s comment and you will understand Carlos’ need for a stool! Hah! And excellent plan C. I love those little Dexter cows!

  15. Sounds exciting. The prodigy will be a pretty picture I bet. I hope all goes as imagined. One handhold at a time.

  16. Dummy here asks if the depression in the soil and the stool are related. Also, I noticed you said feed your families…not family. Are you planning to feed several families?
    All I know is you are truly an amazing person to take on so much! Now I’m going to have to Investigate Dexters. Seems like they are a darling breed from the comments.

  17. I have been reading a site about Dexter cattle for awhile now. I’m not sure they are as miniature as you think. There seem to be lots of links and the owner researches everything.
    There are some recent pictures of her steers and bull.


  18. Exciting to hear about your new venture Celi, can’t wait to meet the new cast members and get to know them. I’ve enjoyed all the conversations about stools and depressions…very enlightening 🙂

  19. How very exciting. You have done lots of research & it sounds a great plan. Hope you’ll be able to handle him OK. I grew up learning to keep well away from bulls!

  20. I’m a sucker for anything that is titled “a most exciting plan” 🙂 I love conversations, ideas and plans that lead to new. What is that saying? There is no try. There is only do.

  21. Well, citygirl has learned a bit more about country/farm living. As for Carlos, I had hoped he would have been named “Carlos, Intra Venous” heheh. Lots of love to you and the Fellowship! Gayle

  22. A new critter on the farm is always exciting but like the others I urge you to stay alert. On my uncle’s farm they had a huge boar, my cousin and I were in his yard (where we definitely were NOT supposed to be) when he came charging out. She still has scars on her legs where she landed on his hot wire. Luckily I was able to grab her feet and flip her to the safe side before he reached us. Of course she had to suffer in silence as we couldn’t admit to our transgression! Isn’t it funny how it’s the males of the species that bear watching!

  23. Oh that is a most exciting plan indeed. I must confess, though, that when I read “Dexter” my first thought was “step stool” or “ramp”, then I laughed. If he’s been handled a fair amount already and is still fairly young, you may be able to keep him calmer than many bulls. But as you know, never trust them completely. (Of course Lady Astor wasn’t to be trusted either, so it’s not just the boys!)

    Are you sure you don’t want to call him Ferdinand? You know, the one in the storybook that didn’t want to go to the bullfighting ring? He wanted to be in the pasture smelling the flowers? I’m think that might be the kind of bull that is safer. (Google Ferdinand the bull, it was a book and I think a cartoon.)

    Can’t wait to hear more about the multi-national additions.
    Chris S in Canada

  24. Finally back. It’s been a while since I popped over. Looking forward to seeing your wee bull. Wall climbing is not something I have tried before and Kristy looks lovely with her new hair cut.
    Have a beautiful weekend C.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  25. Congratulations on your Dexters! We raise Dexters and absolutely love them. They are excellent mothers, good foragers, docile and full of personality. Our bull is a tad on the tall side, especially for our shortie girls. We have two short legged, Chondro + cows and they are the greatest. All our others are long legged. They actually stand in the pasture and let me milk them. Our bull is gorgeous and sweet but still a bull. They are friendly, inquisitive cattle and do provide the most delicious beef! Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: