Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Bastien's Highland Cattle

Highland cattle - a labor of love for the Bastiens

By Manfried H. Starhemberg
This gentle animal shown above with yours truly is one of a herd of 17 currently grazing on the 150+ acre farm of Yvon and Mildred Bastien on Alderbrooke road in Sutton. The Bastiens are professional people and world travellers, but when they are home in Sutton, their "pets" occupy all their time. "We fell in love with those animals and had them since 2003",explains Yvonne. They are amazingly self sufficient, even at calfing time. The mother cow gives birth right in the field and makes very little fuzz about it, as long as the calf starts sucking the milk. Sometimes, it happened this spring, the calf does not get the program and then one of the Bastiens is there with the nippled bottle, to get the little things going, but they have not lost any, and the current crop looks incredibly healthy and happy.

Proud daddy of a bunch of little cows, Yvon Bastien invited me to tour the grounds with him and what amazed me is how gentle these cattle are. I was able to get up tp the older cows,, swat the flies away from their faces and was rewarded with that nice low rumble of satisfaction. The cows actually like to be patted on their noses and head and allowed me to play with their magnificent horns. I can truly see the attraction a "hobby farmer" would find in having a herd of these creatures. "They are semi wild" explained Mr. Bastien. "They stay out all winter and do not mind the snow and the cold. However, my little herd costs me about $ 2,500.- in hay bills during the cold months, when there is no natural grazing:.
"Do you sell them", I asked?". Yes of course. They are a superb meat, far superior to regular beef as they are high in Omega-3 and other nutrients and a lot of my calves are sold to breeders. The gestation period of a cow is just about the same as a human female - 9 month. So, every year one prize bull is brought in to have his fun and create the spring crop of new highland cattle and there is a lot of trading going on among the breeders of this special cattle in the townships.

"."Why do we do this?" muses Mr. Bastien, "I just love to go out there in the morning and watch them. They are magnificent, stately, gentle and a never ending joy to us". When asked if there was any money in raising this particular breed he just smiles and the smile says it all, it probably costs him a bundle, but he has his hobby, which he and his lovely wife and friend of ours, Millie, have enjoyed for quite a while now and are not about to give up.
"Everyone in the Sutton area is building tennis courts and bigger swimming pools" states Mr. Bastien. "I want this town to be the farming community it used to be, and I shall do my utmost to keep it this way. When the tourists drive by my place, they can see a little slice of Sutton that has been lost to the developers - 150 pristine acres and a nice herd of lovely animals. And if someone cares to stop and talk to us, we are enchanted to give them a tour"
Thank you Yvon and Millie!

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