We have now talked with probably six or seven farmers who raise Highlands and yesterday we visited our fourth or fifth farm. We have learned so much from every farm we visit! Highland owners are so proud of their livestock and of the care and passion they have put into raising their herds. They have all been overly generous with their time and have not only talked with us about the cattle, but have answered all our questions about fencing, shelters, breeding and more. So far, every one we have spoken with started out just like we are - with a love of the highland breed and a pair of cows they considered to be almost pets - which should perhaps serve to us as a cautionary tale of how out of hand this passion could get if we aren't careful! We might be very thankful that we don't have room for expansion on our farm!
Yesterday's visit was no different from the others. We walked and talked with another breeder of Highlands in the drizzling rain for nearly two hours. We stood in her pastures petting her cows and asked question after question, while she patiently explained her experiences and wisdom to us. While we were there, we fell in love with a little bull calf. We had been looking for a two-year old heifer that we could breed, but when we remarked on this calf, this woman suggested maybe we start with a bull and a yearling cow and let them couple up on their own to produce offspring on our farm. We had considered this option awhile back, but then had sidetracked ourselves with the thought of a cow and her calf. Three is the most our pasture will handle nicely, and so future breeding might allow us to sell the calves and earn a little money back to support our hobby.
In any case, we left there feeling very excited about all that we had learned and about the prospect of bringing this little bull calf home to Someday Farm.
Bull calf - five months old
Of course, you don't just get one cow. Cows are herd animals and they can get quite lonely on their own, so we need a companion. Ideally, we hope to find a yearling cow that we can then mate with the bull calf next summer. If we can't find the right one in the next month (when the bull calf will be weaned and ready to come to our farm), James is pretty set on acquiring a donkey. The donkey could stay even after we find a yearling, but it would make a great companion animal until that time.
All of this means that instead of spring being our deadline for having the farm ready for cows, we have about a month. We are so close on several projects, but have several things left to do. The Mister is out this afternoon working on the well again. He is so close to having it running, he feels like he is just missing one simple thing. This week he will be off to get lumber and supplies so we can build the three sided barn structure in the pasture that will serve as shelter. Although everyone has said that the Highlands will just use trees for shelter and don't need much in the way of a barn, we would like to have at least one shelter built in the main pasture before winter. Eventually, we will build another in the second pasture as well. But that's a project for next summer!