Heritage breeds entertain
Operation to offer yurts for overnight visits, demonstration of traditions
By JOHN SCHMITZ
For the Capital Press
SCIO, Ore. -- The owners of Dancing Cow Farm are taking agritourism to heart, moving to the Willamette Valley to be closer to more customers.
They are moving their entire farm -- including the livestock and buildings -- from Prineville, Ore., to Scio.
The owners of the farm, Sean and Jerre Dodson, have formed a partnership with Scio rancher Andy Westlund, who owns the land on which the Dodsons' unique farm animals are raised.
When their Scio operation is fully up and running, the Dodsons plan to offer farm stays, during which visitors can hunker down in yurts and connect with the animals, among other things.
"We see a lot of opportunities," said Sean, who said his meat customers always ask him about how his animals are raised and processed.
What makes the Dodson's holistic operation unique is that they run what amounts to a small Noah's Ark of sustainably grown livestock, many of the animals long-since-forgotten heritage breeds.
The farm draws its name from a herd of around 100 purebred Irish Dexter cattle, which are known to humorously shuffle their feet as they are moved between pastures.
While the cattle are the stars of the show, the Dodsons raise other heritage animals for meat, such as the Biblical Jacob sheep.
The remainder of the heritage livestock menagerie includes rare Tamworth pigs, known for their flavorful bacon; Bronze turkeys, which are similar to wild turkeys; and Dominique chickens, which were popular during U.S. colonial times.
Also on hand for visitors to see are two Icelandic horses, a breed brought to Iceland years ago by the Vikings. The Dodsons plan to use the horses to haul tourist wagons around the farm and give visitors a glimpse of the way felled trees were skidded out of forests years ago.
For herd dogs, the Dodsons have several Australian Kelpies, also rare, which visitors will be able to see in action with cattle and sheep. Eventually, the Dodsons hope to host herd dog trials on the farm.
Yet another attraction the Dodsons will offer visitors is a chance to watch sheep shearing, carding and weaving.
An engineer and blacksmith hobbyist, Sean will also be on hand to show his smithy skills and make buttons from the horns of sheep.