Our introduction to cattle began in October 1996, you could say it started with a kiss, when we were given a Jersey X heifer as a wedding present. When she was ready to be mated, we found a bull nearby and took her over. The place just was not the same without her. We found some poddy calves for sale and picked up 2 Angus X heifers to keep us company. We were hooked. Our love affair with cattle had begun.
We then decided that it was going to get costly to have the girls mated every year and so started our quest for a bull. It had to be something that was easy to handle, give the girls easy calving and provide us with marketable female progeny and fine meat from any steers. We settled for a Dexter. Billabong Dexter Stud had an advert in the weekend paper and off we went to buy our bull. We came home with two cows with Grade 1 heifers at foot and back in calf and the bull we had set out to get. Rawlings Dexter Stud was formed in April 1997.
Our herd progressively grew, with the birth of calves and subsequent purchases, to the point where we did not have enough land to sustain the animals we had. The search was on for more ground close by, we finally found an 80 acre block just ten minutes away and promptly bought it. Shortly after the neighbour to our 80 acres decided to sell his 220 acre block and before we knew it, our original property was sold and we were now the proud owners of 300 acres, and had the task of building a house and creating an infra structure to suit the cows.
Some years later we have got our house, done kilometres of fencing subdividing the original three big paddocks, erected sheds, built cattle yards and our herd grew to 100 plus animals, including calves at foot. We grow our own chemical free hay and grain crops to feed our animals, and have even survived a couple of years of drought.
We have a growing customer base for our Dexter beef and find it easy to sell the excess heifers that are born to those wanting a smaller cow. Life has become more focussed on our cattle and we attend numerous shows and field days all over the countryside.
A recent life changing event in 2007 has seen us rationalise our perspective and we have decided to down size the herd and landholdings. Just going back to enjoying the time with our smaller group of animals that much more. We will still be producing the odd side of beef, attending our shows but taking life that little bit easier. We are still committed to the continuing promotion of Dexters, striving to breed quiet, quality animals and focussed on breeding a herd of polled red Dexters with quality genetics.
In February 2009 we have sold part of our farm in Western Australia, retaining 80 acres with a house, but have decided to relocate our Dexters to wet, green, cooler Tasmania, a move which is huge just contemplating the logistics, but one we are sure will be worth it in the long term.
The herd was rationalised dramatically and 24 animals started their journey across the Nullabor on May 14 2009 headed to Pages Transport depot in Melbourne where they were rested for 48 hours before being loaded onto a truck for their ferry journey across Bass Strait. I flew over to ensure their safe arrival in Melbourne and follow them across to the farm in Tasmania, to make sure they arrived safe and sound. They arrived on farm early on 19 May, looking no worse for the ordeal.
I then flew home after a week of making sure the cattle had settled in, to help finish the packing and drive across the Nullabor with Mark, two Border Collies and our tabby cat and towing the car trailer with our stock crate.
We finally arrived at our destination on Saturday 13 June, very tired but happy to see the cattle had settled in and admire our new surroundings.
March 2010 saw the cattle from the Kirup Park Stud relocate to our property as we became co-owners of this very successful stud. We have admired these bloodlines for many years and are now able to add very unique genetics to Tasmania's Dexter herd.
The journey has been a roller coaster of hard work and the enjoyment has been immense. But as things change it is time for more enjoyment and to sit back and admire the achievement of our goals. Don’t worry our future plans will always include some of our delightful Dexters. Guess we couldn’t imagine our life without them wherever we may be.