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, August 24, 2014

West Texas, Part III: Davis Mountain Dexters

Monday morning I was up early, so early I almost caught the sunrise.  Although the sun was up, Star Mountain was still shrouded in nocturnal colors.

Then a mere 10 minutes later, it sashayed forth in rosy splendor as the sun rose over the hills behind the house.

I had big plans for Monday morning.  While the rest of the family hiked up behind Cathedral Rock, I headed into Ft. Davis and drove west past the old Bloys Campground.  I was on my way to visit Ft. Davis' one herd of Dexter cattle belonging to Robert and Patty Martin of Davis Mountain Dexters.

There's some beautiful country out that way, just as mountainous as Limpia, but a lot less rocky and with lots more grass.

It turns out their rains started in June, two months before ours.  Although they have been plagued by drought and wildfire in recent years like the rest of the area, by now it was looking lush by West Texas standards.

The Martins' ranch is nestled back in the hills with a lovely view of peacefully grazing Dexters from their front porch.

After talking for a while, we headed out to see the stars of the show.  Here are some of the DMD ladies.  The Martins' website explains that they raise red Dexters, mostly polled (although some with horns) and all PHA- and chondrodysplasia-free.  The Martins explained that their cows will calve in September or later.  They got "off schedule" in 2011 with the effects of the tragic Rockhouse Fire (photo here), and they decided to stick with fall calving because temperatures are cooler and the fall monsoon makes the grass more lush.

The Martins raise their Dexters as range cattle and use welded steel pens for working them;  you can see a photo on their website photo gallery.  They make hay available to their cattle on a constant basis, and the cattle do well fed exclusively grass and hay.

After I left their place I went into Fort Davis to do some shopping.  One of the shopkeepers saw my "Got Dexter?" T-shirt and mentioned the TV show "Dexter."  I told her that the shirt is about Irish Dexter cattle.  She got all excited and said she just recently bought some grassfed Dexter beef from the Martins, and it's the most delicious beef she's ever tasted.  I thought that was a pretty good recommendation!

Robert and Patty have their ranch divided into several pastures, so after we visited with the cows and heifers we went over to meet the bulls and steers.  Here they are with their herd sire, Legend Red Ace, who produced his first offspring for them in 2010.  It's a fun coincidence that I visited Barb Netti, Ace's breeder, in June.  When she mentioned that there are Dexter breeders in Ft. Davis, I never dreamed that a few months later I'd be meeting them!

Cholla cactus always seemed useless for anything except keeping bird nests thornily safe from predators, but Ace showed us that it makes a perfect scratching post.  That leisurely scratch was illustrative of our visit to the bull pasture where Ace, a two-year old son of his and several steers hung out together in harmony.

Of course no visit with Dexter people is complete without some time spent looking at pedigrees and discussing breeding goals.  I could have stayed all afternoon enjoying the Martins' hospitality, but I had to meet the family for lunch in Ft. Davis.  As I headed to the car I enjoyed a last look at the Dexter ladies lolling by the pond.  If you get out Ft. Davis way, I recommend you look up the Martins.  They even have a guest cabin for buyers who want to visit this beautiful country and take home a Dexter or two!

Monday was nostalgic in more than one way.  In 2005 Kara was getting busier with high school and looking forward to college, and she came to the decision that she needed to give up riding her horse Romeo.  So we shipped Romeo out to the ranch in West Texas to stay with our family there.  He lived a life of leisure on the range, learning to be a Texas horse.  When they heard we were coming for a visit after such a long time, Herb's brother and sister-in-law arranged to have Romeo trailered over to Jeff's house so that Kara could see him.

It brought tears to my eyes to see Romeo lean his head against Kara in a horsey hug that clearly said, "I thought I was never going to see you again!  I love you!"

At 18 Romeo is showing a few gray hairs on his face, but he's still the same dear horse.  We made a family decision that he should come back home and spend his remaining years with us and his old friend Angel.  So Kara is staying on at the ranch with Romeo until we can arrange for a shipper to bring him home.

Won't he be surprised when he sees all the green grass here . . . and the tiny cattle?!
As was becoming the pattern every afternoon, clouds rolled in over Star Mountain, which looked decidedly different from this morning.

This time we got a good, soaking rain all around us.

After the rain passed on, Cathedral Rock and the bluffs practically glowed in the pure afternoon light.

The beacon of light beaming out from behind Star Mountain was a fitting way to end a beautiful day.


  1. Maybe you all should be the next competition in town and raise Dexters in Texas? :-)

    1. Well, no, but if Kara ends up out there and wants a milk cow, we know where she can get one!


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