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Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT

Irish Dexter Rose Veal

Irish Dexter Rose Veal

Big Horse Ranch & Little Cattle Company

Irish Dexter Rose Veal

in “Farm to Fork” food programs

by Ray Stacey and Sue Camron of Ione, CA

“Farm to Fork” food programs are a revival of the past. Big Horse Ranch & Little Cattle Company is now involved in developing “Old School” free raised Irish Dexter rose veal. We are trying to replicate ranching as it was 100 years ago. This is not a fast paced business venture; it does allow us to best use our ranch to provide old style food for those who are seeking food that has a history of quality.

Veal has had a bad name for many years, ever since the inhumane practices used in raising calves for veal became a national and international issue. As the owner of the Big Horse Ranch & Little Cattle Company I am working to change the public’s perception of veal and promote pasture-based farming.

My calves stay with the cow after birth and self wean, are raised on a 40 acre ranch with lots of grass and sunshine and never injected with hormones, antibiotics or given any formulated supplements. We quarter fence our pastures so we can easily rotate our cattle.

I became interested in Dexters after reading an article about them in the Small Farmer’s Journal a few years ago. Irish Dexters originated in the British Isles. They are one of the smallest breed of cattle in America and they are a dual-purpose animal producing both delicious meat and quality milk.

The Dexters have proven to be a good breed for use on a small farm operation. I harvest my calves at about 11 months old and they produce a high quality rose veal. Grass fed veal is one of the healthiest meat sources. In addition to the health benefits of producing rose veal there are also cost benefits. Your animals do not need to be castrated, dehorned or branded and your veterinary bills are reduced.

Dexters can produce more milk for its weight than any other breed, the daily yield averages 1 to 3 gallons per day with butterfat content of 4 to 5 percent. It has been my experience that Dexters are not easy hand milkers. The results might be better if the animal was started very early with a lot of handling.

Dexters come as either horned or polled. They are a hardy breed and Dexters require less feed than other breeds because of their ability to utilize more nutrients from the feed they consume.

Irish Dexters are known for their ease of calving and are very good mothers. Breeding longevity is good with many cows calving as late as age 14 to 16.

A Dexter cow may be bred to another breed producing a quality cross and a good choice would be the Highlanders which share the same ancestry.

The Dexters are also resourceful, it was kind of amusing when I saw a cow that was able to lift up a barbwire fence to let her calf into the next field. Then there was the time one of the bulls decided my ATV needed a good ramming. I still have one puncture spot in the front of my ATV. There are lots of experiences to enjoy on the ranch and one of the sounds I enjoy most is hearing the cows call their calves.

When we market our rose veal it is sometimes an educational process when talking to our customers. We make sure our customers know that our rose veal is ethically produced and we have an open door policy on the ranch. Anyone can visit and see exactly how our Dexters are raised.

We sell our rose veal commercially to restaurants in Sacramento and the surrounding areas that are at the center of the Farm-to-Fork movement. There is a great interest in farm-fresh superiority and the rose veal from The Big Horse Ranch & Little Cattle Co. has been very well received.

There are other ways to sell veal such as to individuals, buyers clubs and farmers markets. Which ever way the veal is sold there are County, State and Federal regulations that must be met. You may also wish to apply for a U.S.D.A. registration number. If a rancher wants to harvest an animal for their own use these regulations do not apply.

In the future it is my goal to unite many small farmers in a Co-op that shares my interest in pastured-based farms and the humane treatment of animals. As a Co-op we would be able to supply yearly shipments of products, thus sharing some of the costs. In my area the local County Fairground is available with holding pens for animals that are being shipped.

With a Co-op it would be possible for ranchers to create a breeding program for their brood herd and share the bulls.

A Co-op would increase the number of people involved in the educational process, teaching people the health benefits of animals raised their entire life in a pasture.

“Research shows that meat from animals raised on pasture have more desirable proportions of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They also contain higher levels of conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs), another fatty acid that has shown great promise in fighting tumors and breast cancer in laboratory test. Grass-fed meats contain higher levels of nutrients, such as fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, which are critical to good health. With grass fed veal there is no marbleized fat.”

“There are good reasons why those who care about the environment support pasture-based farming: it eliminates the waste-management problems associated with confinement-feeding, reduces greenhouse gases in the air due to carbon sequestration, the grasses and legumes found in well-managed pastures are able to draw excess carbon dioxide from the air and return it to the soil as carbon.”

“Buying pasture-raised products from a farmer in your area helps keep an environmentally conscious farm in business, it creates a suitable environment for wildlife, which, in turn, provides the farmer with pollination and pest control.”

“Not only are pasture-raised meats better for your health, better for the animals, better for the environment they are also better tasting.The grass gives meats their unique flavor and texture.”

Resource: The Great News about Grass, www.eatingfresh.com, 2007 Eating Fresh Publications

I think people are starting to pay attention to where their food comes from and are learning the benefits of healthy food. As this interest grows small farmers will no longer be just a niche market.

Spotlight On: Equipment & Facilities

Bobsled Building Plans

Bobsled Building Plans

Here are two, old-style, heavy-duty, bobsled building plans featuring the sort of sleds you might have found in New England and the Maritime Provinces of Canada. (In fact you might get lucky and find them still.) These are designed to haul cord wood on the sled frame.

Choosing a Gas or Coal Forge for the Small Farm Shop

Choosing a Gas or Coal Forge for the Small Farm Shop

by:
from issue:

After you’ve built a small farm blacksmith shop, one of the first decisions that you’ll need to make is which type of fuel you’ll be using. Most people choose either gas (propane) or coal, however, wood fired forges are also an option. All three fuel types have pros and cons. The final decision will likely be based on the type of forging that you plan to do and the local availability of the fuel.

LittleField Notes Mower Notes

LittleField Notes: Mower Notes

by:
from issue:

The horse drawn mowing machine is a marvel of engineering. Imagine a pair of horses turning the energy of their walking into a reciprocal cutting motion able to drop acres of forage at a time without ever burning a drop of fossil fuel. And then consider that the forage being cut will fuel the horses that will in turn cut next year’s crop. What a beautiful concept! Since I’ve been mowing some everyday I’ve had lots of time to think about the workings of these marvelous machines.

Blacksmith Forge Styles

Blacksmith Forge Styles

from issue:

Blacksmith Forge Styles circa 1920.

McCormick-Deering All Steel Corn Sheller

McCormick-Deering All-Steel Corn Sheller

from issue:

To obtain the best results in shelling, the machine should be run so that the crank makes about forty-five (45) revolutions per minute or the pulley shaft one hundred and seventy-five (175) revolutions per minute. When driving with belt be sure that this speed is maintained, as any speed in excess of this will have a tendency to cause the shelled corn to pass out with the cobs. The ears should be fed into the sheller point first.

Mini Horse Haying

Mini Horse Haying

by:
from issue:

The first mini I bought was a three year old gelding named Casper. He taught me a lot about what a 38 inch mini could do just by driving me around the neighborhood. He didn’t cover the miles fast, but he did get me there! It wasn’t long before several more 38 inch tall minis found their way home. I presently have four minis that are relatively quiet, responsive to the bit, and can work without a lot of drama.

The Milk and Human Kindness Stanchion Floor

The Milk and Human Kindness: Plans for an Old Style Wooden Stanchion Floor

by:
from issue:

The basic needs that we are addressing here are as follows: To create a sunny, airy (not drafty), dry, convenient, accessible place to bring in our cow or cows, with or without calves, to be comfortably and easily secured for milking and other purposes such as vet checks, AI breeding, etc. where both you and your cow feel secure and content. A place that is functional, clean, warm and inviting in every way.

Fjordworks Horse Powered Potatoes Part 2

Fjordworks: Horse Powered Potatoes Part Two

These types of team implements for digging potatoes were the first big innovation in horse powered potato harvesting in the mid-19th century. Prior to the horse drawn digger the limitation on how many potatoes a farmer could plant was how many the farm crew could dig by hand. The basic design of these early diggers works so well that new models of this type of digger are once again being manufactured by contemporary horse drawn equipment suppliers.

Cockshutt Plow Found in Alberta

Cockshutt Plow Found in Alberta!

Dale Befus introduced me to a plow I had not set eyes on before, most unusual affair though Dale assures me not uncommon in Alberta, this implement is a beam-hung riding plow (wheels hang from the beam) as versus the frame-hung units (where the beam hangs under the wheel-supported frame).

New Horsedrawn Minimum Till Seed Drill

New Horsedrawn Minimum Till Seed Drill

The physico-chemical degradation of the soils world-wide by so-called “conventional” farming methods is considered as one of the major problems for the world’s food supply in the coming decades. Organic farming systems, refraining from the use of genetic engineering and chemically-synthesized sprays and fertilizers, can help resolve this situation. However, a better protection of the soil is also closely linked to agricultural engineering. By that, minimum tillage or no-till seeding is gaining popularity among tractor farmers around the world.

Horsedrawn Plows and Plowing

Setting Up A Walking Plow

Here is a peek into the pages of Horsedrawn Plows and Plowing, written by SFJ editor and publisher Lynn R. Miller.

Shoeing Stocks

An article from the out-of-print Winter 1982 Issue of SFJ.

400 Hen Laying House

400-Hen Laying House

by: ,
from issue:

One of the hardest problems in successful poultry keeping is to maintain the vigor and health of the flock. Housing has particular bearing on this problem. If the laying-house is poorly lighted, has insufficient ventilation, or is overcrowded, the health of the fowls will be affected. The purpose of housing is to increase productiveness. In order to accomplish this the fowls must be comfortable.

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 2

Hay Making with a Single Horse Part 2

by:
from issue:

From reading the Small Farmers Journal, I knew that some people are equally happy with either model, but because McCormick Deering had gone to the trouble of developing the No. 9, it suggests they could see that there were improvements to be made on the No. 7. Even if the improvement was small, with a single horse any improvement was likely to increase my chance of success.

Fencing for Horses

Fencing for Horses

by:
from issue:

The first wire we tried was a small gauge steel wire which was not terribly satisfactory with horses. Half the time they wouldn’t see it and would charge on through. And the other half of the time they would remember getting shocked by something they hadn’t seen there and would refuse to come through when we were standing there with gate wide open. We realized that visibility was an important consideration when working with horses.

Building an Inexpensive Pole Barn

Building an Inexpensive Pole Barn

by:
from issue:

The inside of the barn can be partitioned into stalls of whatever size we need, using portable panels secured to the upright posts that support the roof. We have a lot of flexibility in use for this barn, making several large aisles or a number of smaller stalls. We can take the panels out or move them to the side for cleaning the barn with a tractor, or for using the barn the rest of the year for machinery.

Happs Plowing A Chance to Share

Happ’s Plowing: A Chance to Share

by:
from issue:

Dinnertime rolled around before we could get people and horses off the field so that results of judging could be announced. I learned a lot that day, one thing being that people were there to share; not many took the competition side of the competition very seriously. Don Anderson of Toledo, WA was our judge — with a tough job handed to him. Everyone was helping each other so he had to really stay on his toes to know who had done what on the various plots.

Farm Drum 28 Eds Wester Star Custom Forecart

Farm Drum #28: Ed’s Western Star Custom Forecart

Lynn Miller and Ed Joseph examine a custom horse-drawn Forecart built by Ed’s company, Western Star Implement Co.

Small Farmer's Journal

Small Farmer's Journal
PO Box 1627
Sisters, Oregon 97759
800-876-2893
541-549-2064
agrarian@smallfarmersjournal.com
Mon - Thu, 8am - 4pm PDT