Jan. 19, 2009, S&H Hilltop Sara brought a strappin’ little black bull calf into this world. The next day our temperature plummeted to give us the coldest weather we had all year…-2 F. I kept them put up in the stall overnight, with the doors all closed, to protect the little bugger from freezing to death, but he didn’t even seem to notice that it was cold! And thus began Maxwell’s life with us.
Mama Sara is a cow who doesn’t like to let down her milk for anyone other than baby for the first several weeks after calving. So, since I wanted to milk her, I needed help, and for the first month of his life, Max was my assistant. They would be separated overnight so to keep him company I would put his big sister, Keira, in the stall with him, and she seemed quite content to babysit. Then in the morning, I would take Sara into the parlor, clean up her udder & hook up the Surge, and she would let down nary a drop until I came back dragging Max in with the halter. Once he had his teat, all was well!
Spending his nights as he did with his sister, he became quite attached to Keira, and would spend most of his time hanging out with her.
As a yearling, Max grew a large, pendulous wart under his chin. I had never seen anything quite like it before, but it didn’t worry me too much because warts usually go away on their own after awhile. But one day I went out to find him with it torn open & blood running out all over the place. It was time to do something about it, so I put the dreaded halter on him once more & tied him up close in the stall. Cutting the wart off at its “stem” was NOT fun, for me or Max, as I had no way to numb it, but the job got done. After a good dousing with iodine, I let him go his merry way & it healed up quickly.
This year, just 2 weeks before his birthday, I put the halter on Max one last time and loaded him on the trailer. He had an appointment on Wednesday, Jan. 5 at H & M Butchering, our local custom butcher shop. He was unloaded into one of their holding pens, beside a pen containing some great, huge, half-crazy thing that went running & skidding all over anytime there was a noise or movement. Max just stood there & looked at that steer….I wondered what he was thinking….he’d never seen anything of the like. We went inside to place our order for how we wanted the beef cut, then headed home & left them to do their thing.
A week later, I got the phone call that our beef was ready to pick up. They let the carcasses hang to age for a week before they piece it out. Once cut, the meat is vacuum-packed in family-sized portions & put into the freezer to be flash-frozen. It’s a pretty nice setup for a little place.
I went & picked up 6 big boxes of beef, well…. 5 boxes of beef & 1 box of soup bones. We got 331 lbs. of beef from Max, and a wonderful batch of beef stock to have on hand in the freezer. The big chest freezer is absolutely bursting full, between the beef & all the chickens we butchered ourselves this year I can’t fit another thing in the freezer. And that’s a very good feeling!
It’s a very good feeling, to be producing that much of our own toxin-free food! We try to give our critters the best, most natural life we possibly can, so that when the time comes, they have something good to give back. And, Max, you certainly gave back well. Thank you, Maxwell, you are much appreciated!
1 thought on “Tribute to Max: Our First Dexter Beef”
Awww! Sniff! We’re happy to work into this gradually, with Sara’s first calf being a heifer we will keep, and seeking out another local Dexter breeder to buy a young steer to feed out. After seeing how adorable Siobhan is, I don’t know if I could avoid getting attached to a steer we had raised from birth. I did manage to butcher the chickens (after Herb killed them!), but we only had them for about 16 weeks. I think being a farmer is something I have to grow into bit by bit! But I totally get the feeling of accomplishment, seeing vegetables and meat you raised yourself in the freezer!
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