But the waiting is so hard. It keeps dragging on and on. When I’m this anxious and this excited waiting for Hazel to calve seems to be taking forever. Every day I check Hazel; every day I train Hazel; every day her udder expands and her pins get a little bit looser; and every day I walk up the hill to the barn hoping that she gave me a present during the night.
Patience. It’s a virtue. I tell that to my heifers when they’re bellowing and bawling (meanwhile I am hauling around 20 or so pig-tail posts and stringing up electric rope so they can graze a new paddock). Driving by an Angus farm recently I saw a cute little Angus calf romping in the pasture and I blurted out: “I need to smoosh it it’s so adorable!” Ok. So I won’t “smoosh” the poor thing. And my sister told me to be patient.
Weighing in at a solid 700 pounds, Hazel definitely has the Dexter build. Even though her dam was 3/4 Jersey, Hazel has taken after her sire, a purebred Dexter bull out of a closed herd. On just good-quality hay, salt and free choice minerals she wintered extremely well (and it was a very harsh and brutal winter). Honestly? She looks amazing.
Originating from Ireland and brought over to North America during the late 19th century Dexters were the ideal homestead cow both for milk and meat production. And since then interest in them has spread. Unlike many breeds which are being bred down to a smaller size, Dexters are one of the world’s true small-statured breed of cattle (averaging 36-44″ tall) which naturally makes them a perfect candidate for being a family cow.
And owning one is almost like owning an actual piece of history! Dexters are a heritage breed. In 1845, on Valentia Island in County Kerry, Ireland, Lord Hawarden’s estate manger announced he had developed a hardy, small, dual-purpose, household cow from the local mountain cattle. They were called Dexters – after the man who discovered them.
Personally, Jerseys are my favorite – I love their color, their gentle temperament, their rich and creamy milk. I fell in love with the breed when I bought my first cow. And I can hardly wait to see how Briar turns out when she calves in 2016. But I’m also excited about Hazel. This has been my first experience working with a Dexter and I’m pleased to say so far it has been good. It’s also interesting comparing the two heifers as well as seeing their different personalities (yep – cows have personalities too :D).
Lesson learned: it’s all about patience. (But I really need a calf! And prego mama is being selfish…)
14 days. I can wait that long. I think.