It is so heartening to see so much progress, in the realm of animal husbandry, happening at Imani. The barn and the rock retaining wall in front of it, embody the combination of practicality and aesthetic harmony we appreciate in our central village farms. The picture to the left shows the barn, a bit of the rock work, Lee and Mihaly and their new cow Bridgit. The investment of time and thought such a young cow of this breed represents is admirable.
Lee gave us this information about the breed:
Dexters originated in Ireland’s rugged countryside near County Kerry. In England, their popularity grew both with commoners, who could keep this small cow on the commons for grazing, and with royalty for the novelty of its small size. Before refrigeration, the smaller size was valuable for raising an ongoing supply of beef without excess. As one of the world’s smallest bovines, the Dexter (sometimes still called the “Irish Dexter” because of its origins) is considered by many owners today to be the ideal homestead or or small holder’s breed. They are dual purpose, raised for milk and meat. A milking Dexter cow can produce 1.5 to 2.5 gallons per day, which is more Milk for its weight than any other breed. The milk’s butterfat content is 4 to 5 percent. It is possible to get yields of cream up to one quart per gallon. Animals raised for beef mature in 18 months and results in small cuts of high quality lean meat, graded choice, with little waste. The Dexters’ small size combined with the ability to produce well isn’t the only trait that makes them well suited for homesteaders and smallholders. Like many of the older breeds, they are extremely hardy. Thriving in both hot and cold weather, they can be outdoors year-round with simple shelter, and need less pasture and feed than other breeds.
The fence Lee and Mihaly worked so hard to provide may not be as aesthetically pleasing as the barn and rock work. However, it is essential for keeping in myriad animals. These animals will contribute to the productivity of the farm in the future. It already contains many new inhabitants, around 150 pullet hens have arrived and will soon be in full production. They may greatly reduce the number of eggs we need to bring in from off the land. Thank you Lee and Mihaly, for putting so much effort into furthering sustainability at Earthaven!