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Old 11-22-2009, 08:02 AM
Location: Nebraska
4,178 posts, read 9,573,792 times
Reputation: 9581


Well, they are right - sorta. Having the nickname "Crazy B___" one's whole life does not translate into normalcy. Still...

My neighbors are ranchers. They raise beef cattle. They have thousands of acres and produce hundreds of head a year for market. They are wonderful people; blunt, hardworking, stubborn, and just downright fun to be around.

Well, I know I'm no rancher. But I knew what I wanted to do. So I bought 60 acres of property at the edge of town, and brought in chickens, two bred cows, and a bull, as well as a small (but rideable) horse. I am looking to milk the cows when they freshen in March (this old farmhouse used to be the town dairy) and make my own butter and cheese (yes I have done this before - on other peoples' farms).

Well, the neighbors think I'm crazy because
1) I got chickens that no one had ever seen in these parts before - Barred Rocks. I got them because they overwinter well, lay big brown eggs, and have delectable meat. And, well, because they are friendlier and better mommies than most chickens. Which means if I am going to butcher them, I don't have to fight them - but which also means that I don't have to fight them for the eggs.

2) I am in the process of taming the cows and bull. They are Dexters, which means they are shorter than regular cows, and are very docile. However, these cows have never been milked (I do not understand breeding milk cows solely for breeding lines - but I am glad in this instance they did!) and I want them to become accustomed to my stroking them, petting them, feeding them treats, so that I can put them in the stanchion and milk them come March. I have already gotten one to stand still while feeding while I stroke her belly and teats, and the other one is coming along. The bull likes to have his head and back scratched - which means he won't be as challenging to work with later either.

3) The horse is small but sturdy, and likes to be petted and scratched and hand-fed apples and alfalfa cubes. She has adopted me as her 'herd' - and will step between me and the cows when they are rowdy and butting each other.

The folks around me like their cows to be 'away', don't treat them like family or pets - and really, how could they, with as many as they have? But their horses are the ropin', breakin', hard-ridin' type, that they can use for ranch work like roping and tying off calves for branding and castration, and cattle for medication. I don't need a horse that can compete in barrel racing or roping at the local rodeo; I need one that will ride me along the fence line to check the fences, and help me bring the cows in when they are ready to calve so that they don't drop their babies in the snow.

The neighbors laugh that my horse neighs over the fence when I come home, and that we 'spoil" the creatures. They have unofficially named my little farm "The Petting Zoo" and now the elementary school (where most of the parents are ranchers!) wants to schedule a field trip for the children to come out and pet my animals! To me, what I am doing is the right thing for what we want to do - for our neighbors, my actions are a little peculiar. The fact that I laugh and agree with them when they kid me about not being wrapped too tight ("Why did you NAME your COWS, for goshsakes??") just keeps the humor going. More - it gives me an opportunity to let them know what we are doing here - when you have to drive 40 miles one way just to buy milk, butter, cream, cheese, and eggs, having a local resource could be a good thing... I've even created a small brochure to answer peoples' questions about the cows.

I learned a long time ago that it's ok to be different - as long as you use your own money and don't demand that EVERYone should do what you do. Even though they laugh and tell me I'm crazy, they are waiting to see what we do and if it works. Just yesterday, a local rancher - very blunt and opinionated, whom I respect - pulled into the driveway and walked over to tell me - "You're a rancher, not a farmer. Unless those hills are full of cornfields, you are one of US." That was a great feeling!
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Old 11-22-2009, 08:07 AM
Location: Central Texas
20,596 posts, read 38,607,683 times
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Hmmm, around here (and on the home place - though we started with Murrey Greys, not Dexters), you sound pretty normal. We're also right next to t(surrounded by) Capitol Land & Cattle, one of the two biggest operations of its kind in the country, and they work cattle on horseback, and have team ropers living next door, but their horses are considered just as much a part of the family as mine are.

We name our cows that are going to be butchered for our freezer things like "Steak" and "Ribeye", though, from the get-go, and have an assortment of heritage breed chickens, not just Barred Rocks.
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Old 11-22-2009, 08:13 AM
Location: In The Outland
6,023 posts, read 12,131,163 times
Reputation: 3535
There is nothing nuts about wanting to take good care of your animals. It sure sounds like you have a lot of work cut out for you, good luck with your critters.
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Old 11-22-2009, 09:03 AM
Location: Neither here nor there
14,810 posts, read 14,258,742 times
Reputation: 32951
Sounds to me like the community has a grudging affection for you.....like maybe you're a tad "different" from them but nonetheless part of the community. If they want to being the children to your place for a field trip--well, it doesn't get much better than that.

<waving at ya from across the state>
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Old 11-22-2009, 11:27 AM
9,807 posts, read 13,763,449 times
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SCGranny------pet that bull all you want, but I remember what my dad told me as a kid------" the only tame bull is the one hanging in the locker plant"

Years back, the farmers who got mauled to death by a bull, got always killed by a " tame" bull that they trusted.

There is no thing as a tame bull and there is a reason why despite having every classification for cattle that are being showed and judged at county fairs, there is none ( and never will be one ) for---mature bulls.
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Old 11-22-2009, 11:54 AM
9,807 posts, read 13,763,449 times
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----" two bred cows and a bull"-

You have to understand that your neighbors are trying to farm/ranch efficently to turn a profit while your's is a hobby farm and some of the strange things you do are very inefficent and certainly not profitable.

The rancher with many beef cows runs about 30 cows per every bull as it gets his cows bred yet the inestment of owning a bull is spread out over 30 cows.

The real rancher/farmer can't justify having one bull for 2 cows cuz the investment purchase price of that bull plus the feed costs of that bull must be covered by only 2 cows.

Not efficent for real farmers/ranchers but is do able for hobby farmers like you and TexasHorseLady who are hobby farmers so turning a profit is no concern.
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Old 11-22-2009, 11:55 AM
1,297 posts, read 3,169,821 times
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Nothing wrong with what you are doing. Sounds like you have a healthy respect for your neighbors traditional ways, and ultimately they will for you. Myself, I don't care if my neighbors have a worm farm...we all can't have dairy cows and sheep, but it does nick my sheep when people start thinking the way I farm is wrong, or the way they farm is superior. Its just different, that's all and that is a very good thing.
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Old 11-22-2009, 04:03 PM
Location: Canada
5,791 posts, read 6,736,743 times
Reputation: 8354
I agree with what Marmac had to say about your bull but there's another reason why farmers don't name their animals: names imply an attachment. How do you ship or eat Bossy the cow?

On real farms animals, while they should certainly be treated well, are income one way or the other. If a cow doesn't produce calves, she's shipped. Bulls are also shipped after a certain period of time.

Perhaps some people are lucky enough not to form attachments to animals, but I'm not one of them. I don't want to eat animals I know. Our eating beef comes from my parents' farm. Lamb from my brother's farm. We were never sheep farmers but because we like lamb, we used to get four lambs every spring and feed them up until fall. The problem with four lambs was that I couldn't eat them. They followed me every time I mowed the lawn

We also like duck and goose. Made the mistake of raising some a few years back - a dozen of each. One gosling was weak and as always happens with weak animals, he was picked on by the other goslings. In order to give him some time to strengthen, I took him inside the house. His name was Moses.

He followed me everywhere and slept in a box, even when he was a big goose. He was the alarm clock and would make a sound like a loon every morning to wake me up.

Obviously we couldn't eat him either.
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Old 11-22-2009, 06:48 PM
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
34,557 posts, read 43,673,095 times
Reputation: 44420
What most others have said. Your animals are more pets than producers while your neighbor's animals are means of production.
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Old 11-22-2009, 08:57 PM
Location: Central Texas
20,596 posts, read 38,607,683 times
Reputation: 23455
I have no problem eating animals that I know, personally, and have named, since I know from the get-go that that is their destiny. I do feel an obligation to see that that animal has the best possible life from birth to slaughter (including the occasional beer and backrub, sometimes ), but I never lose fact of where each of us is on the food chain. We do give them names that indicate that they are intended for the freezer, but they all have names, and we are always friendly with each other.

Consequently, while the neighboring cattlemen are chasing escaped cattle, I'm walking up to them (the cattle) and getting them to follow me home (while the cattlemen's wives are chortling). Sometimes, the real problem is getting the neighbor's cattle NOT to follow me home if mine are with them (as happened recently with the flooding that tore down everybody's water gates along the creek running through all the properties and all of the cattle went walkabout - we just penned them up securely wherever they happened to be until everyone got the fences fixed and now are in the process of sorting it otu and getting everybody home in the right pasture).
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