Posts Tagged ‘cattle’

The 100-year-old horse barn at the heart of ArborBrook Vineyards now houses a tasting room. Photo courtesy of ArborBrook Vineyards.

Living in Oregon’s Wine Country provides many opportunities to be part of the grape and wine culture. That’s how I found myself working behind the scenes at a winery event.

At first blush, serving or sipping wine wouldn’t appear to have much to do with critters. Unless you’re at ArborBrook Vineyards in Newberg. The importance of animals is evident at ArborBrook.

For starters, the tasting room is housed in a century-old red barn that was home to horses in the not too distant past. That explains why I felt immediately at home there: When I walked into ArborBrook, I was looking straight into horse stalls. Well, kind of.

One former horse stall serves as a staging area, another is a showcase of wine displays. The spacious hospitality area may well have been a foaling stall, it’s that roomy. Narrow stairs head up to a loft, still used to store bales of horse hay. Barn doors slide open and closed as cases of wine are moved through aisles where horses once stood cross-tied for grooming. And then there’s the tasting room ambassador, Tippy, the black-and-white cat.

Two people with individual passions were behind the creation of ArborBrook Winery, the husband-and-wife team, Dave and Mary Hansen. Dave’s appreciation of fine wine led to his desire to have a vineyard of his own. His wife, Mary, a horse lover from way back, had long hankered to have her horses living alongside her instead of at a boarding stable.

In 2000, The Hansens found 30 acres in the Chehalem Mountain Range where land is coveted for pinot noir vineyards. Dave got what he needed for a premier vineyard: gentle elevations of 400 feet; south-eastern exposure; subtle micro-climates; and rich soils. The site provided Mary the cornerstones to bring her horse hobby home: a barn, pasture and riding arena steps from the farmhouse back door.

Maddie gave birth to her colt in the new barn at ArborBrook Vineyards. Maddie belonged to ArborBrook owners' daughter, Sydney. Photo courtesy of ArborBrook Vineyards.

Today, from the picnic lawn and fire pit the Hansens’ backyard shares with the tasting room grounds, it’s easy to spot Mary’s paint Quarter horse, Esme, and their daughter, Sydney’s, bay horse, Maddie. The mares are a picture of contentment as they graze green pastures bordered by vineyards—with some very nice views, I might add. Maddie will soon go to a new home; hence, Sydney has a new horse coming.

Some very special horse photos have a prominent place on ArborBrook Vineyard’s website: just-born pictures of the foal Maddie gave birth to last spring. The colt was born in the new ArborBrook barn, built to replace the original 1910 barn when it was converted to a tasting room.

Busy with winery business plus entertaining visitors, tourists and Wine Club members, Mary still makes time for the horses. Since they’re close at hand, she can saddle up before and after she pours tastes in the barn or strolls guests through rows of vines thick with summer’s fruit or alive with fall colors.

Maddie and her colt, born May 25, 2010. Photo courtesy of ArborBrook Vineyards.

But back to the evening I was there. ArborBrook has some signature seasonal events. This summer’s affair had a sophisticated cowpoke style. The red barn/tasting room was the backdrop. Lariats played an integral part in the outdoor décor. Most were borrowed from genuine ropers.

Called Picnic in the Vineyard, the event was staged in what was once Mary’s riding arena. Fresh white paint splashed on posts and rails; lush green lawn; and gray metal washtubs filled with ice water made it an ideal hot-summer-night setting for barbecue and wine.

Cattle Connection

Longhorn bull, Fey's Rio Casino, had a horn span of 70 inches at the age of three. Photo courtesy of Fey Longhorns.

Angelina Fey is the Hansen’s go-to person for all things ArborBrook: She is the winery/tasting room manager. She brings an animal connection as well. She and her husband, Daniel Fey, have raised registered Texas Longhorns for a decade. Currently their herd is made up of 35 breeding cows, three bulls and two show steers. They chose the Longhorn breed because of its Old West nostalgia.

The Feys’ customers are similarly drawn to this hardy breed, most using Fey Ranch cattle for pasture pets or show animals. The goal of the Feys’ breeding program is to produce cattle with lots of horn, eye-appealing color, correct conformation and great disposition.

“In today’s market horn size, length and shape matter more than ever. A strong pedigree is important for us. Our cows are sired by some of the greatest sires in Texas Longhorn history: Gunman, Emperor, Roundup, VJ Tommie,” they explain. “Our Senior Herd Sire, Crown’s Smoke Jumper, has proven to be an outstanding horn producer.”

Longhorn bull Rodeo Max had a horn span of more than 80 inches tip to tip a year ago. He was 2010 Horn Showcase winner. Photo courtesy of Fey Longhorns.

“Twisty horns” and “with good direction” are phrases you like to hear in Longhorn circles. The scale of the horns on these cattle is grande! The horns on their bull, Rodeo Max ST, measured an incredible 80.25 inches tip to tip in December 2010. The Feys’ young brindle bull, Fey’s Rio Casino, had a “horn span” 70 inches tip to tip by the time he was three years old. The horns on the offspring of these bulls measure up, too.

Where there are cattle, there are generally herding dogs to help move the livestock. The Feys have two Queensland heelers, Zip 8 and Paco 4.“They think,” explains Angelina, “that they can herd, but they are not really trained.”

The only things missing from ArborBrook’s  wine-country-Western-flair cookout were a few Old West sounds echoing through the vines: a cattle dog’s yip, a horse’s whinny and a Longhorn’s lowing. Maybe even a real Texas Longhorn.

There were, however, a few cat meows. If Mary, Dave or Angelina don’t greet you at ArborBrook events or the tasting room entrance, Tippy will. The relaxed way animals blend in at ArborBrook demonstrates how important they are to the quality of life for owners and staff.

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In our little corner of country, it’s tough to go anywhere this time of year and not see wisps of animal hair floating along behind someone on the street or in the corner mercantile. It HAS to be spring, because all the animals are letting go their warm, winter coats.


Springtime shedding, and animal hair is everywhere -- on jeans, in coat pockets, wallets, cars....

Each day that I brush buckets of red hair from my horse, Callie – I’m certain that’s the end of the shedding. Next day, still more clogs my brush and floats to the ground.

Sometimes Callie stretches out her neck and sort of licks or smacks her lips as I brush her: Horse folk say that “lip thing” is a sign the horse likes the feel of what you’re doing. Similar to our, “Oh, that feels SO good,” response to a good back-scrath or back rub.

Callie scratches her own back when she gets the chance: If turned out in the sandy arena, her routine  includes sniffing out the right spot (rather like a dog does before bedding down). Then she: kneels; plops down the rest of her 1,200 pounds; rolls onto her back; twists, rubs, scratches; rolls to her side; heaves herself up; and repeats the exercise a second time.

This week, I counted seven-in-a-row repeats of the go-down, roll-around, get-up moves. Oh how all that dead hair must itch! Shedding’s not the only sign spring is nigh. Critters in every corner of every pasture are pushing hard at the fences preventing them from nibbling the fresh shoots of grass on the other side. If their earnest desire for green

Spring's first blades of grass. Horses pull at lead ropes to grab a bite; sheep squeeze heads between fence rails; steers lean into fences -- all enraptured by the green.

actually takes a fence down, well the cattle, sheep, goats don’t go far: They’re too busy eating. But fence repair, especially done when it’s still raining and muddy, can try the patience of ranchers.

Then there’s the newness of all the animal babies. Newborns trying to navigate on spindly legs is one of the most touching, and sometimes comical, of sights. Adjacent to the long drive leading to Callie’s barn, is a sort of “birthing” pasture. When calving time approaches, the owners move their cows into this more hospitable, grassy area.

Spring is here, as witnessed by bursts of yellow daffodils roadside. Animal babies by the dozen are another clue. Not more than an hour old, this calf attempts to rise as his mother licks him dry. The little guy is so brand new, the umbilical cord is still attached.

Last week a red calf arrived. Mostly, I saw it nursing, sleeping, and, I think perhaps — hoping Mom would not graze far, so he didn’t have to struggle to get up on those darn things called legs again. This week, I spent time on Callie not really riding anywhere, instead simply watching that calf and marveling at Mother Nature.

Yesterday, I was blessed to be near at hand moments after a black calf was born. Several times, it almost wobbled up. Its mother, intent on licking away the afterbirth, sort of toppled it back down with the strength of her tongue. The now “big-brother” red calf appeared to be completely taken with the whole operation. If not today, I bet tomorrow the two calves will be gamboling about.

As I was clicking my camera off, I felt like I was being watched. I figured someone riding in the far arena was straining to see the calf, too. I turned to look. Staring back at me, or through me, from behind his fence was a very broad and sturdy black bull. The proud papa perhaps?

The high-pitched chant of blue jays and screech of hawks and falcons was with us all winter. Now birdsong is with us again between rain storms. Soon the challenge will be to keep the cats away from the nests and fledglings.

It will be a gold-star day when the first red-breasted Robin shows itself. I couldn’t honestly say if I heard it somewhere or made it up: I always feel like Robins bring good luck.

Maybe one or two of the does that frequent our “neighborhood” of woods and meadows will have a Bambi of her own. If they’ll just stay away from my roses when they start to bud and bloom – all will be well.

Tonight we move the clocks forward into daylight savings time. The timing all sees right.

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