No Bull? No Bull!

You may remember from my last post – waaaayyy back in September – that our faithful Highland bull, Victor is, well, no longer able to perform his duties.

So, whadya do?  Afterall, an unbred cow carried through the winter is a lot like a mocha latte with no foam.  I think.  No, I’m not sure about that.  I actually don’t know what a mocha latte is…

It’s a waste, let’s put it that way.  Cow-calf producers with unbred cows are just cow babysitters and I, for one, would rather do my babysitting wtih a being that I can actually lift when I need to put it over my shoulder to burp.

But I digress…

Victor’s sterility marks the second time we have lost our Highland bull and this loss pushed us to rethink Highlands as a whole.  It’s not because we think all Highland bulls are destined to kick the bucket or kick the ability to breed.  It’s that we have grown.

We began this adventure we publicly call farming 15 years ago this year with ZERO knowledge.  I take that back.

On our small acreage outside Memphis, we had figured out how to get chickens to just the right size so that they would make a perfect meal for any dog.  We also knew how to get bucked off our pony or, really any horse friends brought over or left at our house after visiting.

Aside from these gems, though, we knew nothing.  That’s why we bought Highlands – we read.  Yes, I know and agree that we are an illiterate society and we all need to read more.  Reading is not enough, though.  At best it’s research.  That’s why we bought Highlands – we had read a lot but we really knew nothing.  Oh, and they looked good.

I’m probably being a little harsh, but you get the point.  We were after cows that would be hard for unexperienced newbies to kill by mistake.  Highlands have been just that.  They throw (not literally) wonderfully small calves, they are very protective, and they are very hardy.  When we bought them we had a literal coyote infestation in our vicinity.  Highlands wouldn’t – and didn’t – tolerate coyotes of any stripe.  Thanks to rednecks in import pickups with lots of dogs, beer, and electronic tracking equipment, that’s all changed, though.

So have our needs.

No longer do we need animals that just survive in what we thought was a wilderness 15 years ago.  We now know that we require cattle that fatten easily on the grass of our pastures today.  For 5 or 6 years, we’ve been finishing a breed from Alabama called Southpolls.  We’re now headed toward them.  But we are on a big ship and changing directions takes time.

Our incredibly gracious neighbour (who just happens to be the Tennessee Cattleman of the year) loaned the above bull’s son to us.  We’re now breeding him – dubbed unpredicta-bull – to our seven Jersey cows and heifers.

Jerseys are well-known for having lots of butterfat in their milk.  Butterfat in cows is directly related to intramuscular fat.  To the layman, this means that Jerseys eat like butta.  Really.  Don’t tell anyone you heard it from me, but it’s one of the biggest hidden secrets in farming – Jerseys are delicious.  Hence our cross above and our plan to breed all of those lonely Highland girls to a Jersey bull if they don’t sell by breeding time.  It’s not an immediate change, but it’s sure moving in the right direction…