DreamI began my adventure to breed and raise Dexter cattle on my eleventh birthday. As a member of my county 4-H livestock club, I developed an interest in cattle. I researched all of the possibilities after I received discouraging news from my mom who was convinced that we didn’t have enough room for a cow. I soon discovered the Dexter breed! They are a miniature version of a black angus and the best news of all, they are on the conservancy. What’s the conservancy you might be asking? Well, when a variety of a particular species of livestock is realized to be dwindling in numbers, they fall on the conservancy list. My mom is always willing to help animals falling victim to this fate, so my quest for a Dexter now had a glimmer of hope. I learned everything there was to know about them, but only had one problem. I couldn’t find any that were available. My glimmer of hope was fading fast.
Unbeknownst to me, for my eleventh birthday, I was led on the scavenger hunt of a lifetime which ended in the barn. I could hardly believe my eyes when I entered the stall housing the most beautiful, shiny, black heifer standing only as tall as my waist. I knew right away the perfect name for the perfect little heifer, “Dream!” We did everything together and formed a strong bond since I had to bottle feed her several times a day for quite some time, a task I was happy to do! I walked her every day. I’ll never forget the time my family was asked to bring some of our animals to a church. They were holding an event for inner city children to share the story of Noah’s ark. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we walked into the gym that was decorated with a huge cardboard replica of Noah’s ark. We walked our animals: sheep, goats, rabbits, miniature pigs, chickens, and of course Dream to the other side of the façade and waited for the children to arrive. Needless to say, Dream was a huge success. At one point, she laid down and allowed several young children to lie down with her. It was just precious! Imagine the taxi drivers faces as they watched us walk our animals down the city sidewalks!Soon, Dream was old enough to be bred. I struggled for the longest time to find a suitable bull. Unsuccessful in my attempts, I turned to A.I. possibilities. I ordered the samples for the North American Breeders Association after discovering a bull that had samples preserved there. The tank came with the “necessary ingredients” and our vet arrived to complete the recipe. It failed. In fact, it failed three times. I was quite disgusted to say the least. I felt defeated in my attempt to successfully breed my heifer. Time was passing and Dream wasn’t getting any younger. In fact, a number of people were suggesting that Dream was too old and wouldn’t be able to successfully have a baby.
Fortunately for me, I met Gene Bowen, an avid breeder of Dexter cattle in Virginia. He contacted us to share a very sad story. He told us that Dream’s lines were dwindling because the farm she came from was eliminating their herd. The owner had been in an accident and was forced to downsize. Dream was one of the few remaining heifers. In fact, people were so interested in her that we started getting calls from as far away as Colorado to offer to breed Dream. I decided to take Mr. Bowen up on his offer to house Dream at his farm for a month so that she could be bred to one of his amazing bulls, a bull named Brenn. To hear Mr. Bowen talk about Brenn was to hear a man boast about what he believes to be the greatest bull walking the face of the earth! I missed Dream something terrible while she was away in Virginia, but I knew we had to try to keep her line going.Every time we would receive an e-mail update from Virginia about Dream, it was as though we were receiving a present that we couldn’t wait to open. Success! She was finally bred. Now all we had to do is wait for the baby to be born, and wait, and wait. In fact, we waited nine, long months. About a week before what we calculated Dream’s due date to be, I received an e-mail from Mr. Bowen reminding me that I really needed to start watching her because she was soon going to calve, like he really needed to remind me of that.
Thursday, August 30, 2012, we noticed Dream was acting as though she was about to have her baby. At 10:30 in the evening, my sister and I went to the barn to check on her. Not expecting much, but our hopes were high as we entered the barn. The baby was on his way as his hooves were sticking out! I ran to the house to get my mom and my whole family raced to the barn. Dream struggled for quite a while, but nothing was progressing. Her age was working against her because she was obviously not going to be able to pass the baby without some intervention. In fact, at one point Dream even looked at us as if she was begging us to help. So, help we did. My mom and I put on the gloves and went into her stall. As Dream would push, my mom and I would pull. We were so nervous at this point and were only hoping to at least save Dream. After about 15 minutes of very scary struggling, the head was finally out and within a few seconds so was the rest of the baby! The best part of all, he was alive and well!We laid in the stall with Dream and her baby rubbing her to make sure she was ok. At one point, she even looked at my mom and licked my mom right across her forehead. I guess that was Dream’s way of saying thank you. We checked on Dream and “Little Man” around 3:00 am and found mom and son curled up together resting peacefully. I now have the start of my own little herd. Oh, forgot to mention one other thing. While Dream was staying at Mr. Bowen’s in Virginia, a little bull calf named Macbeth fell in love with her. So when we brought Dream home, Mac had to come too. So we currently have a healthy family of three Dexter’s on our little farm, and mom said we didn’t have room for one cow. My Dream come true! Oh the adventures we have because of our involement in 4-H.