We are Hans and Sheril Peterson. I have a business that manufactures custom windows for very high end modern residential homes and high rise buildings, and Sheril is a middle school math teacher, so this is supposed to be our hobby, but with over 100 head of cattle and Miniature Silky Fainting goats it's a pretty big hobby! Our farm is located between Port Huron and Lexington Michigan, along the Lake Huron shoreline.
I was searching for a large industrial building to move our business to, and we found one that was part of a large apple orchard that had been left fallow and neglected since the 1980's. The orchard had once been a thriving business and the building had housed a cider press, donut making equipment, and hosted thousands of people every fall who came to pick apples and enjoy cider and donuts. It also had a very large climate controlled storage area for storing apples and shipping them all over the country.
At the time, we lived over 60 miles away, but the building was perfect, and we loved that there was such a large orchard and acreage that came with it, vs. a building in an industrial park. We decided that in the near future we would move to the area, and purchased the building and property. Although the building was in excellent condition, the property was completely overgrown with brush, grapevines completely engulfing the apple trees, and worst of all, multi-flora roses and vines had also engulfed many of the trees.
For several months, I would go out on the tractor with a brush hog after work and toil away at trying to reclaim some of the orchard. When Sheril would visit and we would go for a walk, she would ask "What exactly did you do in all that time?" Hmmm....she was right. I was making little progress, and whatever progress I did make was quickly re-growing and had to be done all over again. What to do? We had 4 horses that we had been boarding and were now on the property, but only in a small area and they turned their noses up at anything other than perfect pasture, which we didn't have.
It was about then that a couple of my employees said "get some goats and cows". So we repaired and installed some additional fencing around the property, and did exactly that. It was working, or rather, they were working....24 hours a day, 7 days a week! Sure, we still had to assist with the vines in the trees, trimming trees, etc...but the cows and goats made it possible to get to the trees.
Although we initially started with Angus and Hereford cows that were supposedly bred, we knew that they had to be bred again eventually, and we decided that we didn't want to have a large bull on our property, because the cows were large enough as it was. Sheril did some research and discovered the Dexter breed, and began to hunt for a bull, and found one for sale in West Michigan, along with a Dexter cow. So we set off with our small trailer in tow to see this breed that was supposed to be much smaller than the Angus and Herefords that we currently had, and hopefully bring them home.
We arrived at the farm, and the owners brought us into the barn where the bull and cow were in stalls. The bull, "Mike", was about 4 years old at the time. To say that we couldn't believe he was 4 years old and full size was an understatement. He was only waist high on me! The cow, "Cedar", was even shorter, and she was 7 years old!
The next question that popped into our head was, "Can he breed the Angus and Hereford cows that we have?" The seller assured us that he could, because he had full size cows that Mike had successfully bred. We loved the conformation and look of both Mike and Cedar, so we said yes we'll take them home. Mike was a bit reluctant to load on the trailer. The aisle in the barn was narrow, and Mike kept wanting to turn around. We had a board behind him as we encouraged him to load, and I couldn't believe I was in such a confined space with a full grown bull, but as powerful as I knew he was the fact that he was waist high made it much less intimidating. We got the two of them into the trailer and were ready to take him home.
There was one little problem...as Hans saw the other animals on the farm three other cows caught his eye. They were Scottish Highlands. And yes, they were for sale. We thought that they were absolutely beautiful cows and would fit perfectly on our farm.
***Obviously with over 100 cattle and goats and full time jobs outside of the farm we're a little bit busy, so the construction of the website is a work in progress. Please bear with us as we fine tune the content that is already here, and add content (a lot of it) as we take photos of our livestock and write descriptions.
If you are truly interested in our Dexters (and Scottish Highlands) and would like to perhaps add one or two to your farm, feel free to contact us for a farm visit in the meantime.