Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Trip to Paradise

Last week I visited my sister and her family in Virginia.  Ever the great hostess, she asked if there was anything I'd like to do in Virginia.  "Visit a Dexter farm!" I replied.  Barbara and her two youngest sons were actually excited about the idea--aren't they sweet?!  So I pulled up the ADCA website on my iPad, found the list of members in Virginia, and looked up those who had websites to see how far away they were.  (Let me say a word here to all of you Dexter breeders who don't have websites yet.  The websites let my "fingers do the walking" on my iPad rather than calling a long list of phone numbers.  A website--even one so simple as this blog--is the way people are going to find you nowadays!)

Right off the bat I recognized the name "genebo" from several Dexter forums I follow.  He was less than three hours away, so I called to see if he likes visitors.  He does, so we set up a date to visit Paradise Farm.

Gene very kindly met us out at the highway in his Kawasaki Mule and took us straight to meet his cattle.  As soon as they saw him opening a bale of hay, they headed in to the barn.

Here is Gene's pride and joy, Brenn of Paradise, his stud bull. Barbara had met FF Lil' Christmas Cash when he was boarding with us this summer and seen how docile he is, but I think she was surprised to find that although Brenn and all Gene's cattle have horns, they were not in the least intimidating.  (Her only previous experience was with our first (and only horned) cow, and she was not a good ambassador for horns!)

I'm afraid I made the trip to meet Gene and his cattle with an ulterior motive--I intended to pick Gene's brain!  (In the nicest way, of course!)  Since we've bought a bull calf who will be arriving in January, the first question I asked was how to train a bull.
Gene explained to all of us about flight zones and showed us the best way to approach a bull (or a cow for that matter), moving in toward the shoulder, steadily and confidently.

Next he explained about scratching a bull's neck behind the head or anywhere else on their body--but don't play with their head.  And don't ever let them butt you!

He went on to show us how his cattle all know where their horns are and how they are very careful not to hit him.

Gene has a lead cow (sorry, Gene, I've forgotten her name).  Brenn doesn't lead the herd; she does.  But Brenn IS the undisputed King!  When he comes over to eat, all the girls move over for him.  But most importantly, Gene is the Boss over all.  Everyone respects Gene!

Here everyone is sharing the hay peacefully, but Brenn obviously has the spot he wants.  The cow next to him kept bumping his side with her horn, but he didn't mind because it didn't hurt and wasn't done aggressively.  No one even came close to bumping Gene, though, nor any of us.

Gene pulled out some bread, which Brenn had obviously been expecting.

 Barbara and Brenn met up close and personal.
Everyone got bread and a chance to feed Brenn.  He was happy to give us all a turn!

Then Gene took us over to meet his youngest heifer, a pretty long-legged girl who is just beginning to overcome her baby shyness.

My youngest nephew got elected to see if the heifer would eat out of his hand.  She wouldn't, but she's almost there.

Of course I had to have a photo even though Gene claims he's not photogenic and I know I'm not!  (I wish I'd thought to take one at the house later when we met Gene's lovely wife, Beverly, but by then the guys had started talking antique tractors and it didn't occur to me to try to tear them away.)  I think that along with all the attributes of Dexters, we should add to the list: Not only are they friendly, but they help build friendships among their humans!

We learned about Gene's feeding plan and how it works symbiotically with his manure handling.  Here is his Manure Handling Squad, a bevy of (mostly Muscovy) ducks.  We saw the evidence of how well his system works, although when Gene pulled the bread out, the ducks abandoned their cow patties at full speed!  We were all laughing by the time the last piece of bread disappeared.

We left the herd grazing peacefully to ride up to the beautiful house situated on the far side of a tranquil pond.  I was driving and couldn't take a photo, but you can see the house on the Paradise Farm website.  It may be named for Gene's grandmother, Mary Paradise, but it's the biblical meaning that comes to mind looking at that scene.

We all hated to leave and would have gladly stayed many more hours if we hadn't had family waiting back home and a three-hour drive to get there.  Heading out the tree-lined drive, I thought of Anne of Green Gables and wondered what she might have called this peaceful lane from Paradise.

Thank you, Gene and Beverly, for sharing your piece of Paradise with us!


  1. Oh, Susan, what a wonderful post! I enjoyed visiting Gene and Beverly's farm all over again via your blog! I'm smiling now as I remember a very special day!

    1. Thanks, Barbara! That's one good thing about this blog. Someday when I'm so old and senile I can't remember any of this, I can look back and see that it really did happen! :D

  2. What a lovely farm, we too enjoy looking at other cattle farms to see how they do things. That sure was a handsome bull, and he sure produced lovely calf's. Good post

    1. Thanks, Gordon, I'll be sure to pass that on to Gene. That was a lovely heifer, wasn't she?

  3. Here is the unbelievable sequel to this story:


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