August 12, 2012

Our Dexter Cattle Plans

There are many times - over the past 11 years - when so many people have assumed my husband and I are very well off - financially - based upon all that we've accomplished up to this point in our lives.

I've learned to use that ' feeling in the air ' as a meter for guaging how well we have been handling things.

But it does come with its moments when the two of us find ourselves looking at each other and asking, " What the Hell ? "

One of the very most important things that Dwayne and I have in common is the concept of - living within our means.

We despise credit cards.  We don't believe in supporting ' Legal Lone Sharks ' - which is all they are - if anyone really thinks long enough.

We don't buy into the madness of a lie that " one must go in debt - in order to maintain a high credit rating, " - says the one shoving the money they're skimming off the top into their own pockets.

We never - financially - over-extend ourselves.  We never - ' count our chickens before they hatch ' - as they say.

Imagine financing everything under the sun - for the sake of keeping up and rubbing noses with everyone else  - only to have my Husband lose his job a month later.  We lose everything.  All those ' Legal Lone Sharks ' we financed with - gain everything - at our expense?

Never gonna happen in this household.

We buy and/or pay as we go.  There are only 2 exceptions - our mortgage being one of them.  The second - we only borrow the bare minimum whenever there is a totally unavoidable Time Constraint in the circumstances.

And in the giant scheme of things - buying our home that we currently pay a mortgage on - was done so with intentions of this being our dream home - our place to retire.  It is intended to provide us with continuance of survival - should my husband ever lose his job - or - after he retires.

Part of our ' Plan ' included Dexter Cattle - as well as a few other choices of livestock and animals that can provide food - along with fruit trees and an area for growing vegetables for preserving food to save on the grocery bill.

Our reason behind choosing Dexter Cattle - we only have 10 acres - at this time.  Almost 6 acres are being used as a hay field - for now.  That will change.  But that intense  ' Honey-Do ' list is long.

Anything accomplished in this giant scheme of ours here - is done so by only the two of us.

We do not have children living at home that we can delegate any chores to - or - have help with building and/or growing / harvesting / preserving anything around here.

Nor do we have any other adults living with us - or - helping us with daily work loads.

Many people assume that my husband makes a 6-digit salary from his job as a supervisor in the airlines maintenance industry.  They are wrong.  They are so - very - wrong.

In fact - union jet mechanics earn A WHOLE LOT MORE than my husband.  And my husband ended up taking a hefty pay cut - almost immediately after the ink dried when we went to closing on this house!

And to boot - it never helps when you have setbacks such as serious tear-outs and reconstruction of portions of your home that were built incorrectly - to the point of causing physical pain and damage.  Or - were threatening a serious fire.

For as far back as I can remember - it was always agreed that one could always come out ahead by having the option of buying their own steer to raise for the freezer.  And so - we felt it was only common sense for us to do so - considering we have all this - back yard.

There was a time when you could get an angus steer calf for around $250.00 to raise for the freezer.  Not anymore - unless you buy a whole mess of 'em.  But - if you do your shopping - and you play your cards right - it's something one can manage to accomplish.

And it's because of that scenario there - that there are some people assuming - incorrectly - some things about our choice and accomplishment with the Dexter Cattle that we have procured - up to this point.

We paid cold cash - up front - when we purchased ' FF Freedom's Artist ' - our Dexter Bull calf.  His price was $1,500.00.

We saved up the money - pinching here and there - managing our finances the way we have since Day 1 that the two of us have been together.

Artist was not even a week old - first time we set eyes on him.  He had not been genotyped - or - had any other testing done - yet.

We were told - after all the testing results came back - that we were very lucky to have committed to buying him when we did.

Otherwise - the price would have been much higher.

' FF Bruce Almighty ' - our black steer - cost $450.00.  He's going into the freezer.  We'll see enough savings to have made it worth our while raising him - ourselves - compared to how much it would have cost to wait and buy one side of him post-butchering.

These cattle are NOT inexpensive to buy - for many reasons.

Irish Dexters are ' Tri-Purpose ' cattle.  They are not a miniature breed.  Their size is genuine to their breed.  They do not require near as much pasture space as any other standard-size cow.  Their feed bill is about 1/3 the cost of 1 standard-size cow.

They are the ' Oxen and Cart ' that we all read about in books - as children.  Despite their smaller size - they are just as powerful - and very advantageous for plowing and pulling.

They are Milkers.  The molecular structure of their milk is said to be equal to a goat's milk.  Many people lactose intolerant are able to consume milk from a Dexter Cow.

The A2/A2 rating for quality is growing in the Dexter community.  Cows are capable of producing as much as 3 gallons per day while in milk - more than enough to nurse their calves.

Buying the steer to raise on the start-up of our goal was to help us get something into the freezer as soon as possible.  The one fall-back with this breed is - they do require reaching a minimum age of 16 months before butchering.

The real prize in the ride is this.  The carcass of the animal is much smaller.  The cuts of meat are smaller than any standard size cow.  However - every morsel of meat on these cattle is of the same quality as - a Ribeye steak.  Even the hamburger!

And I'm told the flavor is one that will ruin your desire to hit any steakhouse in the future.

We have made it this far - paying up front.  We played our cards close to our hearts - pinched and paid as we went along.  The two of us got ALL the fencing done.  We had to use a particular woven wire - thinking far in advance.  Reason?

The calves of these cattle are so much more smaller than other breeds - and very prone to predators.  We were even advised NOT to put donkeys with this breed for protectors.

Donkeys are even disturbed by the size of the newborn calves - and known to kill the babies.  With as easy as these cows calve - the chances of them dropping a calf in the pasture overnight is there.  And you could find heartbreak in the morning - if you have a donkey sharing the premise.

The only time it would be safe enough to put a donkey in the same pasture with one of these cows is if they had grown up together - from the get-go.

Besides putting in all the corner posts - fence posts - and running the woven wire - Dwayne had to tear down half the old Tabacco barn and reconstruct portions so we could use it for the animals - just to help us get started as soon as possible.  He built the little rack for holding hay and loose mineral - as well.  We had to kill off and plow the area where the garden had grown.

And all this was done in less than a couple months.  We have no qualms about bragging.  We busted our asses.  And we did a wonderful job.

But with a Bull calf - comes an unseen hand on the control of things.

Mother Nature.

Artist will become old enough to breed.  He will need to breed.  And he will want to breed.  And if he doesn't get to breed....  ya' know?  Yeah.  He could do some hellacious ' artistry ' on this property!

That - adds a time constraint into the equation - which we must address - immediately.  This has already been foreseen and accounted for in the math.

The clock is ticking.

And tomorrow's post will continue on with details about the decision we've made for how to deal with that little tidbit!

For now...
Have a great day!


Deb said...

It's a great idea to live within your means, and pay cash for things as much as possible! We try to do that ourselves. There are times it will probably be impossible...but for the most part thats what we plan on doing ourselves. :-))

Phelan said...

I love my gals. Just wish someone would buy them before I am forced to butcher. But the drought here, and people not understanding that an adult cow can stand under four feet tall. . . No buyers.

Ah well. Your boys are pretty.

Queenacres said...

Paying as you go and avoiding debt is the only way to go if you want to live well. Many folks do not understand that living well has nothing to do with material things. Glad to see that yall are pulling ahead and making plans!

Kimberly said...

Wow, reading this is like reading a page of our lives, except we have three littles ones running around under foot while we work! Congrats on your lovely place, and all the love and sweat and up-front cash you have put into it!