Marty Mitchell

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since Dec 08, 2013
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I have now upgraded to my final Permie homestead... a multi-generational property on 8AC in coastal Chesapeake, VA. Surrounded by open fields and forests.

In the works... endless fruit and veggies, planting for nature's critters, ruminants (cattle and horses), chickens, bees, many structures for a more resilient lifestyle, developing new skills, etc.
Coastal Chesapeake, VA - Zone 7b/8a - Humid
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Recent posts by Marty Mitchell

We took delivery of the two girls today!

Lunar, our horse, stopped by and stuck his head in to say hello. Independence (the dark red one) cautiously approached…  then once they sniffed each other for a few seconds… out came the tongue.

Lunar then began a slow retreat. Lol

It was a very calm experience so far. We hooked up the halters and slowly walked them into the stall. Not a single foot has flown my way yet. Lots of petting that they seemed to be enjoying. They thought about eating cookies from my hand but only licked it.

When I left for the evening, they were already laying down together and chewing cud. Probably had a long day on that 8hr ride.

10 hours ago

Kathleen Sanderson wrote:

I laughed at this, because my ex did the same thing when he found a bear in his beehives early one morning.  He was getting ready to go to work, and stepped out where he could see the hives to check on them.  There was a young black bear in them, had already knocked some of them over, and my ex ran down there roaring and kicked the bear in the butt really hard.  He said it popped up and looked at him in shock, ran off a few feet, stopped and looked at him, he roared at it again and made himself look bigger than it was, then it ran off into the woods across the road.  He checked later and said he was glad he didn't follow it any farther, because it looked like it had been lying in wait for him just the other side of the stone wall next to the road (New Hampshire -- lots of stone walls everywhere).  We joked that his 'Indian' name was Bear Kicker.  He got electric fence around all of his hives after that (some at our house, some at his parents' place).  That pretty much stopped the bear depredations.

I am glad I am not the only one then! lol

That is a good story! Thank you for sharing.

I keep almost missing your posts since they keep showing up inside of the quotes.

Even with a good pistol and immaculate accuracy... I would still feel severely out gunned by a bear. Those things are tanks. I remember hitting one with my truck @ 70mph on the Alaskan Hwy coming out of the Yukon down into northern British Columbia. I only clipped its butt, and my truck was damaged to the point to where I had to pry open my driver's door to get out. The thing still ran away. That being said, it was indeed be chased by an entire pack of wolves, which is why it was running full speed when I hit it that night.

I can almost guarantee the wolves pushed him out in front of me on purpose. Those things are uber smart.

I am glad the electric fence helped with the bees/bears for you! Hopefully it will here as well.
5 days ago

Ela La Salle wrote:Cute cattle. Wish you all the best

Not that it matters much, but I like Belted Galloway.
If I could afford it,  I would absolutely love Highland cow as a pet.


I love both of those other two breeds as well. Someone has a small herd of the "panda bears" on the side of the hwy I see every day on the way to/from work.

The Virginia Safari Park had a large Highland Bull (sweet guy that belched in my son's face and made him laugh hysterically/almost vomit) and several young highland calves that were some cute little fluff balls begging for food. My wife started squealing and stomping her feet when she saw them. lol
5 days ago

Betsy Carraway wrote:I checked out the link, but there wasn't a lot of descriptive info on the breed; I am wondering how well they might be able to defend themselves outside in the pasture, against a bunch of coyotes or dogs, anyone know?  We had full-sized grass=fed mixed breeds in the past and they did fine; but coyotes are a problem here.  Maybe those with horns...?

Info appreciated, I like the small size and great taste combination!!!  

That is going to be a highly complicated answer... with several large heaping sides of "It Depends". (I love saying that now. lol)

I remember growing up and seeing my two of my buddies whose families' owned cattle in the mountains of North Georgia. Both had massive full-sized cattle and massive endless fields surrounded my national forests and mountains. The only real difference between their cattle is that one's cattle were so mean that you could Not set foot out into those beautiful pastures and had to go by vehicle. You would get trampled/mowed down on purpose by the mean old cows they had.

Anyways, none of their cattle had horns from what I remember.

Only one of them had problems with animals killing cattle. The guy with the mean cows and no donkeys. Apparently, there was another family up the road a way that let their dogs run free and they would come down in the middle of the night in a pack and chase those cows around for fun in the fields (though red timber wolves, coyotes, and bears were possibly doing it). Eventually the cattle that had been running around for hours would stop to get a drink from one of the large streams on the property. When they bent over, they would pass out and drown in the stream.

So, everyone kept finding the stripped remains a few days later since this was usually down in a patch of woods somewhere.

Horns are totally a weapon for them. Apparently if you have a large group of cows that are hornless and one with horns, usually the queen cow will be the girl with the horns. She will use them to push and prod everyone around with them as well. So horns are definitely an option.

The lady I am buying from said she keeps having issues with vultures! They will swoop in and peck the eyes out of a calf before it gets a chance to stand up. After that it is toast. So, she has started putting her expecting mothers in an area with cover. She does live in coyote country too(allegedly). So, what she did for her herd was add a single strand of high-power electric along the bottom of the fence line about 10" off of the ground. She has had no problems with them... or anything else trying to dig under the fence. I believe she was using those plastic standoffs that are about 6" long too to get it out off of the fence a ways too.

For me, I am mainly worried about...
1) Vultures now that she told me that and they pretty much use my pasture as a home base at times.
2) Bears since I keep seeing them around the property. I even had one trying to come over the back fence as I rounded the corner of the barn at night all suited up to get into my hive that was right there. I literally only had my baby hive there for a few days and it was about to get torn apart. It was a big bear too! In the heat of the moment I panicked, growled loudly, and started stomping hard as I ran at it. It made noises back and held its ground. Then like a dummy I kept going until it slowly retreated back into the woods in protest. I shall be armed next time. lol

My immediate resolve was the high-power fence. Looking into a donkey.

My single horse out there has been fine by himself so far. A few cows should help later on... they will just be very small when they first get here.

Definitely heard a bobcat screaming over and over again the other night. So that is another one as well. I don't think mountain lions will be of issue around these parts at least!  

Still don't want horns because I know those weapons will be turned against me, my family, my horse, my cattle trailer, my fence, and anything else they would want to do. I can totally see why nature gave them to them though.
5 days ago
Here is the Cyclops model we went with… the “Brute”

Our old charger was .6 Joules and this one is 10 Joules. Strong enough to when my poor dog slapped her tail into it she screamed and kept screaming until she got to the back door of the house. Poor thing…. She thought the horse kicked her and was afraid of the horse for several weeks. 😆

What is cool about the Cyclops is that they have fused lightening protection in both input and output lines… and you can order/replace parts for internal components.

I also put mine on a weather strip so it is switched… and far off of the ground so as to be away from my dogs and small kids.

6 days ago

Rachel Elijah wrote:

Marty, congratulations! We did the same thing as you, only we are using Devon cattle. We considered Dexter, but we were concerned about a mutation gene they were known for. But I DO know what you mean about hardy - we've done jersey and braunveigh- and our Devon are more healthy and do much better in our 6 acres then both the jersey and the braunveigh we had previous.
Our bull was a bottle calf, so we had him since he was a month old. We got our heifer when she was a yearling, so, not great to start with, but I've been working with her. If she's not great I can always just rely on her to be my breeder, and train her first heifer to be a easier keeper. Yes, we are working on growing winter grass, too. Hay has gotten more expensive, and my neighbor doesn't sell anymore. Bummer, but it'll work out!

Yes, premier one sells some nice electric fencing that you can use for rotational grazing when you get those grasses in. We've moved ours all over our property.

And the butchering isn't too bad, depending on the size.... If you've done sheep before (witch we started with sheep), you can get the hang of it. But cows have thicker hides, so a gun is necessary for slaughter over just using knives.
It took my husband some getting used too. Make sure you have a good hoist for the job! They can be heavy.
We invested in all this during the 2020 craziness when we thought the whole world was going to hell, and while many stores were out of meat and milk, we were just fine.
I made steaks, TONS of roasts, bone broth, butter, farm cheese, yogurt, cream cheese, ice cream, and as a bonus the raw milk dissolved my digestive problems that I normally have with milk! I truly believe the reason why many can't drink store bought milk is because of pasteurizing. All the digestive enzymes are burned from the process.
All our cows are naturally polled and red, as well.
My only issue at the moment is getting our heifer sired. I think they're trying, but I noticed her in heat this month. If something doesn't happen soon, we need to figure an ai situation. I want HIS genetics, though. We'll see!

Thank you for the congratulations!

Which mutation gene are you talking about? If it is PHA (lung) or Chondrodysplasia (Dwarfism) then you just have to find registered animals that have been tested not to carry the genetic disease.  If it is something else let me know... because this is the first I have heard of it. lol

Glad to hear others are working to get that Winter grass growing. I have lots of ideas in my head of things to do at different times... but it will definately be a lot of work. Still.... cheaper and easier than buying hay equipment and haying. Not easy work at all with square bales.

I actually spent the last several months getting my fences in order. I now have two large/sunny pastures surrounded with woven wire (pulled uber tight with the tractor) and concreted wooden posts... with double electric bands. Then a third 1AC sacrifice pasture up on the dry lot in the woods. Which is where the animals will be headed when the deep Winter muck arrives, and the pasture needs protection from the animals.

For Electric Power I used a Cyclops unit that Greg Judy recommends... and is WAY oversized for my needs. But should work well to also keep the bears off of my beehives (which are also tapping into that same system). It is also strong enough to burn through plants that grow onto the fence line.

Then I got several reels with high quality poly braid on them spooled up. So I can sub-divide the pastures as big or small as I need based on what the grass/weather/and animals dictate that year.

It sounds like you guys are much further down this road that we wish to be on. Not sure if I will ever have the time to try dairy products with them, however, it sure does sound nice!!!

I know that there are many pages of bulls to buy AI straws from on the Dexter page. I saw one guy that was selling 10 straws for $300. I bet your breed has something similar available. We decided to go that route instead of maintaining a bull that would be bored with 2 heifers... and I can keep more ladies this way or steer growing out. That being said, I looked at some of the AI kits, and I am NOT looking forward to doing that. lol

However, I am too much of a cheap bastard. So, I will learn to ID when they are in heat, do the procedure, and learn to check if it took later on.
6 days ago

Kathleen Sanderson wrote:We only have about an acre and a half of pasture land, so I have reluctantly decided we'd better go with hair sheep for meat production, rather than Dexters.  However, we are surrounded by a large pasture and hope to be able to rent at least part of it, and then Dexters are definitely back on the table (literally!).  

I can understand you on that one. The number of sheep one can have per acre compared to cattle is a big difference. Hopefully, you guys will find that you have all you need with what you have. However, sometimes more is totally better. lol

There is a small farm near me that sells specialty pasture raised meats. Dexter is one of them. I wonder if you have that somewhere near you? It may be worth taking a look at. You could potentially just do some even trades for meat to avoid the tax man.
6 days ago

Faye Streiff wrote:
As long as you have clovers, or other legumes in the pasture for them to graze they get their protein needs met.  I fed no grain except as an occasional treat.  She stayed roly poly almost fat as long as there was plenty of pasture and browse.  They like tree leaves too.  I’m so impressed with Dexters, if we were younger, and had more land, would definitely do it again.  Wish I had pictures, but computer crashed and lost all pics.  

That was a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing. I can only hope we will get the same thing.

I definitely have lots of red and white clover going out there. I went around this Fall and spread out a LOT more clover seed too. So hopefully, we will have a good blanket of it to feed the cows, bees, and grass over the coming years.

I just started keeping bees this year as well. Caught my first two swarms. One was a micro swarm and kept getting robbed out... then left for greener pastures. The large hive is still rocking along.
1 week ago

Ted Abbey wrote:Thanks Marty, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours..

Thank you too Ted! Happy Thanksgiving...
1 week ago
Links and useful places for data on Dexters...

Here is the official DCA website. There is all kinds of useful information on here. There is another one out there as well.

From things like breed standards, registered farms map, to buying animals or straws for AI from registered bulls, to looking up the entire lineage of an animal you are buying (if you are going the registered route which I highly recommend). I even found charts showing the genetic probabilities of outcomes for colors of fur, horns, etc based on what genes both parents share.

For instance, both of my calves are in the Red category (but carry other genetics), so their calves will ALL be Red if I crossbreed them with a bull that is Red (no matter what genetics he carries). Same goes for horns. Both of mine will be polled (I didn't ask if Heterozygous or Homozygous), so if I breed them with a bull that is Homozygous polled, 100% of their calves will be polled.

I even looked up the owner of "Half Mile Rex" and shot them an email to get that pic I posted. He is not at the same farm as the buyer I am buying from. You could do the same to help make a decision with your purchases.

This following FB page (just one of many) is where I found my seller. The name of the FB page is "Dexter Cattle Breeders". She and her husband seemed like very nice folks down in South Carolina. There are MANY sellers on there. As wells as a LOT of Knowledge. Everyone will chime in with any questions you may ask.

And lastly... these are just two of the many genetic documents they have on that website from above. They have mapped out the genes for all genetics if you are interested. Even milk protein types.

1 week ago