Friday, July 13, 2012

Red Poll Cattle In New York State

As you may already know if you've been following this blog, I hope to raise Red Poll cattle some day when I retire. They are a medium sized, hornless, dual purpose, docile breed, ideally suited for small farms and old codgers like me. But they're all in the Midwest and South. There were none in the Northeast until one couple began a Red Poll farm in Pennsylvania. Last year someone began a Red Poll farm in New York, just an hour and a half from Albany. So I drove down to visit. I spotted the cattle in the field from the road, their red coats sparkling in the sunlight:

The friendly farmer turned off the electric fence and walked me down to meet the girls:

These were field cattle, not handled at all, so I was interested to see how they reacted to a new person invading their space. I wanted to walk up to them and see how close they'd allow me to come before trotting off. I walked up to two cows who didn't flee at all. They didn't want me touching their heads, but seemed quite happy to have me scratching their ribs:

This is Simon, proud owner of these beautiful cattle and a gracious host for my visit. You can read all about his farm and see videos, including one of a Red Poll being born, at his website here:

They were a contented bunch, watching me with interest but not fear. That cow on the ground didn't feel it necessary to stand up just because a strange person was walking by:

The calves were a bit more skittish, but I suppose that is a survival instinct and besides, they had never been handled:

Simon strung some more electric wire to section the field. He said that a single strand will keep the Red Polls in place. They are easy to keep fenced, content to stay where they're put:

The herd moved farther away in search of fresh grass:

Simon wanted to increase his herd but found, as I have found, that Red Polls are difficult to purchase. They are in big demand and there are only two farms in the Northeast. He did recently purchase these two heifers, though, and quickly discovered that his herd didn't accept them well. Now they're kept separate from the herd but right next to them. Hopefully they'll be accepted in the future:

I walked up to say "Howdy" to a cow while a calf watched with interest. I'll bet that was her calf and it wondered what that stranger was doing with his mother:

But all too soon it was time to say goodbye and I snapped a photo of the house and chicken coop as I pulled out into the road:

But I stopped one last time for a photo of Simon's two young wethers who are there as pets and brush cleaners:

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