Posts Tagged ‘cattle’

postheadericon Meet Fanta & Igor – The Beginning of Our Love Affair with Dexter Cattle

If you’ve never been introduced to the Dexter cattle breed, you’re in for a treat. They are considered a miniature breed and are about half the size of most large breed cattle. Along with being a multi-purpose breed, they pack a very big punch of personality into their small frames! We’ve begun a love affair with these little bovines that I’m sure is going to be a lifelong relationship.

 

Dexter Cattle in the field at Red Barn Blue Skies

Fanta & Igor eating grass in the lane

 

Between their friendly personalities and their darling appearance, these little Dexter cattle have quickly charmed everyone who’s met them. My hubby and father (the dyed-in-the wool, old-time crotchety lifelong cowboy/cattleman) are both completely wrapped around the little bovine hooves. The little mooches beg for backscratches and treats on a daily basis. And yes, they do seem to always get them. They seem to know how to play us all against each other as one afternoon they managed to trick all three of us into giving them treats within a two hour period. We really are a bunch of suckers when it comes to our animals.

 

Fanta - Dexter Cattle Heifer at Red Barn Blue Skies

Miss Fanta

 

Fanta is a lovely, polled red heifer of the Dexter cattle breed. She was raised with much love and affection by Andrew and his family at Long Dream Farm before she came to live here with us last fall. She is one of the sweetest cows I’ve ever been around and you can’t help yourself from stopping to talk to her and give her some attention. I just adore her as she will come running when she hears one of our voices.  She is quite pregnant at this time and will be having a calf in the next few months. We’re really excited to meet her little mini-moo when the time comes.

 

Being raised on a working ranch, I grew up around thousands of cattle over the years and became fond of many of them. The bulls were usually my favorites and I actually dreamed at one time of being a stock contractor for the rodeos with my own string of bucking bulls.  Of course, at that time, it wasn’t all that common for a woman to be a herd boss! Plus I didn’t like the idea of someone actually taking a spur to one of my pets – no one would take as good of care of my animals as I would. So I moved to other pursuits.

 

Igor, Dexter Cattle Bull at Red Barn Blue Skies

Igor (Son of Thor)

 

Jump to now. I’ve become enamoured all over again with another bull. A pint-size bull – with a big 10-gallon personality and sometimes a little attitude. Igor is our little big man now at the ranch. He is becoming almost as big of a pet as his pal Fanta, but not quite.  As is usual with a bull, especially a youngster, the testosterone kicks in and he thinks he has to be the boss – and it IS almost Spring! I think his feelings get hurt when I remind him who really does rule the roost – and who feeds and brushes him. He is a charmer though as he belts out a bellow when he sees me walking to the pasture. He just doesn’t come waddling up to the gate as fast as Fanta. He has to show his independence before he kicks up in the air and comes bucking up the lane with his tail up. He’s being trained to lead well at halter and I’m hoping to add a few other skills to his repertoire. He’s a smart little cookie and we’re working towards a gentlemanly demeanor to go with his rugged good looks. I’m in love.

 

I will be writing A LOT more about the Dexter cattle breed and my two little ambassadors as well as adding many more photos.  They are a real joy to be around and have really added another layer of fun to our days. I’m looking forward to sharing their antics and escapades with all of you.

 

If you are interested in learning more about the Dexter cattle breed and finding out what is available, please visit the website of  Long Dream Farm. It is an absolutely beautiful place where the animals are all treated with much care and respect by a truly lovely family. We are grateful to them for allowing Fanta and Igor to become a part of our own family and our daily lives.

 

postheadericon Cattle Sorting Practice

We spent Sunday at the ranch, helping Dad with the cattle sorting practice and just hanging out with him.

Cattle sorting is similar to team penning which I wrote about a few weeks ago and you can read about here. In sorting you also have a team of three riders, but you only have 10 head of numbered cattle (1 each from 0-9) at the other end of the arena instead of the 30 cattle in team penning. The numbers are basically like a huge dog collar with two large vinyl panels with a number on each side. They are put on for the practice and then taken off before the cattle are turned out to pasture for the night.

There is a foul line about 40 feet from the end of the cattle side of the arena instead of a pen you’re trying to put them in. Once your team is in the arena and ready, you are given a number from 0-9. You then have 1 1/2 minutes (90 seconds) to bring your cattle across the line IN ORDER with no cattle crossing the line before their turn. Example: my team is given #4. We have to bring them out 4,5,6,7 etc. The team with the fastest time and the most cattle out in order wins.

It’s a fun event that the whole family can participate in. You will see a lot of little kids and even some older folks having a good time at the cattle sortings. It’s a little easier for beginners to ease into as it’s not as fast-action (to start with) as team penning and you can use “greener” or less experienced horses while learning yourself. Playing with cattle and good horses is always fun!

There is also a version called “ranch sorting” that is done in a large pen and with only two riders on the team. The big difference is that you must take the cattle through a gate in order instead of across a line. Both versions are a lot of fun, but I usually prefer the ranch sorting.

I like the ranch sorting because I grew up doing this when it wasn’t even an event. It was just plain old ranch work where Dad would put me in the gate while he sorted calves off the cows to be shipped to market. I got to be a very good gate man(girl) and ended up getting a lot of dirty looks from crotchety old cowboys that Dad would hire for day work. They didn’t like the idea of a kid, much less a “little girl” doing a man’s job. I always had fantastic ranch horses and was a good rider so I could compete with most of the grumpy old farts for the choice jobs. I had been working cattle for my dad and many other ranchers from a very young age and earned a good reputation. Kicker was that even though I was getting a paycheck for day work, I was really there to help my daddy and enjoy the heck out of myself. (Didn’t realize that I was championing women’s rights when I was nine years old!)

Being “in the gate” was a coveted position when working cattle as you got to work your horse and really enjoy the ride. When working the gate your horse is sliding from side to side and making lots of quick moves to keep cattle from escaping past him. It was always the most fun part of the day to be on a cowhorse that was “getting down in the dirt”. I still enjoy it today on my mare Cinderella. It’s better than a roller coaster ride by far.

Our day started out with a few minutes with Fred (or as I call him Ferd). Dad rescued him after one of the barn cats abandoned him when he was just about 2 weeks old. He was a fighter from day 1 and is now the ruler of the roost. He has Dad and anyone who comes over wrapped around his little furry paws.
“It’s about time you got here to visit me!” “Why won’t you come and play in my house?”
Michael checking the cinch on his horse “Whiskey” Sonny, Dad, & Les “warming up “, in reality – gossiping while walking around in circles

The cheese stands alone…

Adolph (Dad’s dog) thoroughly bored by it allWe went to dinner with Dad after we were through with the sorting practice and all of the animals were (well) fed. A very lovely way to end a nice weekend. Now it’s back to boxes.

postheadericon Team Penning in Templeton

Bill Dees & Cinderfella “Before the Buzzer”

I’m spending my Saturday with my husband, my Dad, my horse, and a whole bunch of these little boogers!

We’re going to a cattle (or team) penning competition. I’ve been competing in these events since I was about 12 yrs old – when they first started them up here in Central Cali. I haven’t gone in AGES, so when Dad asked if Michael & I would like to go with him for the day I jumped at it.

Should be lots of fun, except for the getting up at 4am part – that sorta sucks. And the fact that I will end up being the driver for the entire trip up and back. That’s what Dad always tells me “he” had me for – to be his chauffeur. I learned to drive the truck on the ranch at about 9 yrs old and began pulling the big gooseneck stock/horse trailers at about 12. I’m an old pro, but the hubby is still pretty new to the whole ranch life. Dad and I are in the process of teaching Michael how to pull horse trailers, but I’m a control freak and nervous about letting a “newbie” pull my horses especially since we’ll be in hill country with gusty winds. Dad’s a little braver than I am on that front, although I DO try not to hurt Michael’s manly feelings too often by making him let me drive.
Team penning is a timed event that consists of a team of 3 riders, 30 cattle numbered 0-9, and a pen. Your goal is to put your 3 cattle into a pen at the opposite end of the arena in the fastest time. Sounds easy enough right? You have to take into account that cattle can be wild beasties and create a lot of havoc in a short amount of time. You have to keep all of the “unwanted” or “not your number” cattle at their end of the arena, opposite the end where the pen is. If one of these strays crosses the scoring line, you’re disqualified. When you’re running full steam around an arena trying to sort out the correct animals while not running into one of your team members, it can get pretty exciting and hairy.
But, it’s lots of fun to participate in and also to watch. There is a lot of whooping and hollering as well as laughing. Most of the horses love it, especially ones like ours that are bred to be cow horses. Some, like Michael’s horse Whiskey, are afraid of or ambivalent towards the cattle and might run the other direction. It happens, but Michael loves Whiskey & Whiskey loves Michael, so that’s all that matters!

These photos are all of Dad and Cinderfella aka Fella or Yella Fella (yes, I have numerous names for the big critters too.) I will post some photos of my & Michael’s horses as well as our beautiful Paint stallion – Sunday Sailor at a later date. I’ve got to get to bed EARLY tonight – it’s a long drive in the am!


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