Our goal on the farm is rather simple: feed people with great-tasting beef. We found the breed we liked the best for flavor and bought a herd of Salers. We’re very happy with them. But we started with Mirandaise:
Back then the plan was to buy a herd of Gascons. That’s why the cowshed in this post has Gascons in it and the car has www.gasconne.com written on the back. Gascons look like Mirandaise but greyer. But they are related: in the old days the name for a Mirandaise was Gasconne Auréolée and a Gascon you see below was called a Gasconne à Muqueuses Noires.
[Note that ‘Gascon’ is the male form and ‘Gasconne’ is the female form. Heifers are Gasconnes. Bulls are Gascons. Similarly with Mirandais/Mirandaise, but not for Salers which is all PC and gender non-specific.]
The plan was to have a handful of Mirandaise and a herd of Gascons. The cows are related and look very similar. We bought some Mirandaise and had visited several herds of Gascons and were on the verge of making an offer on some when there was a delay due to the emergence of a sellers agent screwing up two farmers doing business together. I walked away from the Gascons to think things through.
During that pause a neighbor suggested the Salers for flavor. We found a herd and tried some beef and found it the best of all for our tastes. The Mirandaise/Gascon plan was out and the Salers plan was in. But what to do with the Mirandaise we had bought? We decided to run them for the year and see how they panned out.
They are certainly beautiful cows. The Mirandaise race is very small in number and has a fair bit of variety in its body type. Some are like Etamine below; a tall cow, very strong and well muscled. Etamine was so strong she became boss cow while still a heifer at the age of two.
Three of our five Mirandaise were very large and like that standard. These cows were also a little on the painful side. They owned the hay, so much so that we referred to it as “Etamine’s hay”. If we used the hay feeder the big three Mirandaise would make it difficult for other cows to feed there. So we switched to rolling out the bales to give the smaller Salers more time to eat. The big three Mirandaise were also the ones itching for a contest whenever they met a neighbor’s herd over the fence.
This winter we decided to sell the Mirandaise and focus on the Salers. The first farmer to come over made a good offer and bought the big three. He was very happy to get three large heifers ready for insemination and I was very happy for him to buy them since he has one of the biggest herds of Mirandaise and is a passionate leader of the business behind the breed.
As a side effect, the herd runs so much better without them! We can fit twelve cows at the twelve cow hay feeder. The cows walk between paddocks without as much jostling for order.
We then had two Mirandaise on the farm. Fevette the little two-year old:
And Elfie the three-year old:
These are also the two friendliest cows in the herd and both want attention and like getting scratched behind the ears. Their personalities are very sweet. They were the favorite cows of our children.
We have sold Fevette and Elf to join an existing herd of Mirandaise. Now we can focus on the brown cows, but it was a sad day for us on the farm nonetheless.
Bye Elfie, bye Fevette.