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.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Meet "ZH Duke of Wellington"

Wellington has achieved several firsts for Zephyr Hill Farm:
  • Our first bull calf
  • Our first red calf
  • The smallest calf born here, 39 lbs. at 12 hours old
Here he is running across the pasture with Siobhan in hot pursuit the morning after his birth.  Siobhan chose to "nest" him in a pile of leaves in a tree-shaded corner at the bottom of the big hill of the Home Pasture.  That meant that Herb and I had to make two trips, morning and evening, to get her and the calf up the hill to the barnyard for milking.

I originally named the calf "Wellington" for the elegant British Beef Wellington since he was born between two episodes of "Downton Abbey."  We assumed his future was in our freezer, and I knew I couldn't eat "Matthew" or "Carson!"  Wellington has become "Wellie" or "Wells" for short.

On his second day Wellie felt like exploring the pasture.  As I observed him, I realized that he was much smaller than he appeared the night of his birth.  Maybe it was the distortion of the headlights in the dark pasture, but he looked enormous at first.  The more I watched him, the more it became clear that he really was as small as Tiggy, who actually weighed a pound more at birth.

Several things became clear about Wellie.  He's very laid-back; he didn't run away from us at all.

He could walk right under Siobhan.

If he wasn't red, he'd be easy to lose in the long grass!

His eyes match his halter.

 He's as cute as a button!
He's curious and friendly . . .

. . . and so photogenic!

Here's Wellie nursing in the barnyard before milking on May 29, his third day of life.  Since I'm only milking to keep Siobhan's udder from being engorged, I appreciate that he nurses to get things going.  If he isn't eager to nurse before they go in the milking parlor, he's quite willing to "help out" a bit once we get in there, which helps Siobhan let down.

By this time I had begun to second-guess my original assumption that Wellie is a non-chondro carrier calf.  His sire, FF Lil' Christmas Cash, is a carrier, which means that there's a 50% chance that Wellie is, too.  I'm far from an expert at making a visual determination, and indeed, many breeders that regularly breed chondro carriers can't always tell.  That's why the genetic test is invaluable.

I put a few photos of Wellie on the Irish Dexter ProBoards forum and asked for peoples' guesses:  Is he or isn't he?

Check out the link; there are some very informative answers about visual clues.  At this point the jury is still out on whether Wellie is or isn't.  Only his tail hairs know!

What is clear is that Cash is a very nice bull and that Wellie has the chance to make a nice bull, too.  Besides his bloodlines, he's red, polled and sweet!  So "Wellington," the future steer named after a delicious beef dish, will become "ZH Duke of Wellington" and have a chance to grow up to be someone's herd sire.

I think Wellington is a great name for an Irish Dexter bull.  Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, was an Anglo-Irish (think "Downton Abbey" + Irish Dexter!) soldier who became a British national hero when he led the victorious forces at Waterloo.  According to WikiQuotes, he's remembered for several comments:

  • I believe I forgot to tell you I was made a Duke.  A P.S. in a letter to his brother.
  • Publish and be damned.  His comment to a man who threatened to publish stories of Wellington and his mistress.
  • I have seen their backs before, madam.  His comment at a reception in Vienna to a woman who apologized for several French officers who turned their backs when Wellington entered the room.
It remains to be seen if our Wellington is a chondro carrier or not or whether he will have the dry British humor of his namesake, but it should already be obvious that he's one beloved little bull calf!


  1. Ahhh, so sweet! Love the photos of him!

  2. Thanks! He is a doll! I can't wait for you to meet him!

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you! We're grateful for two out of two born without assistance and healthy!


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