It all began a very long time ago, growing up on a mixed farm in central Saskatchewan. I was the eldest of 3 children and as a result I was responsible for the “barn chores”; milking cows, feeding pigs and chickens and gathering eggs. An addiction to sustainability and cattle was being honed by my parents who realized I had a natural affinity with the critters. Fast forward to later adult hood and a beef herd with a milk cow. Whenever I could, I would buy dairy culls off of local dairies - before they headed to the local auctions. I would do what I could to rehabilitate them (mastitis, sole ulcers, bad feet, etc.), train them to hand milk, transition them to grass based diets and teach them how to be a "house hold cow". Those cows got to raise their own calves and often times served as nurse cows to our beef calves. I later on inherited several Dexter heifers and eventually purchased a few Jersey bull calves to raise on the Nurse Cows for use as future herd sires; especially for the Dexter girls (I could not find any tested Dexter bulls within 8 hours of home to use) and for the Jersey girls.
Things slowly evolved and the “little herd” grew in numbers in spite of culling and selling of calves (that didn’t meet my standards). As the popularity of my milky and beefy little cows grew I looked for more bull options and the quest was on to obtain a Miniature Jersey. It took several years but I finally purchased a registered Miniature Jersey weanling bull calf in 2017 and am now breeding him to my smaller standard sized Jersey cow, some smaller Dexter cows and a couple of Jersey x Dexter cows for our first 50% Mini Jersey calves which will arrive in April of 2019. I have also purchased my first Registered Miniature Jersey cow to begin building the pure herd starting in 2019 as she has been exposed to a completely unrelated Miniature Jersey bull to my own.
As a child of a multi-generational beef producers and a wife of a former dairy herdsman as well as my own background working in feedlots, auction barns, stockyards and dairies I have formed a strong opinion on functional cattle and developed a keen eye for quality as well as faults. I believe a cow should not only be maternal and milky but should be of docile temperament as well. Her conformation should be correct regardless of her height and therefore I “send to freezer camp” a lot more females than I retain or offer for sale! A cow must “earn her keep” and to me that means her input costs must be much less than her profit margin – little to no grain to maintain her condition throughout the year, low (over the span of her lifetime) to no incidences of infections with natural resistance to parasites and viruses. She must thrive on the native grass pastures of this area, hair up heavy for our winters which tend to be extreme, shed out by 2/3s before May of every year and be able to walk a great distance every single day of her existence as she is out grazing grass (or grass hay bales in winter) every day of the year and needing to travel for water, shelter or milking. The girls are grass fed, enjoying many, many acres of pastures, hills and creeks - living the life that a cow should. We raise calves from these cows as future house hold milkers, breeding stock or as freezer beef. The calves are left with their mothers, milk sharing with me, for a minimum of 4 months to allow for full rumen development (or the cows are raising a second calf as they are very productive little cows), with a preference given to 5-6 months for steer calves, 7-8 months for bull calves and up to 10 months for heifer calves.