Rawson (Grandma's Dexters)
1923 - 2006
Julie Butterfield (Daughter of Ferne Rawson)
Rawson (1923-2006) lived a very full life as
a farm wife milking dairy cows and operating
farm machinery most of her life. When she was
no longer able to milk due to her health, my
husband and I kept the dairy cattle going for
some time. Ultimately, the cows were sold. For
years mom would stare out at the bare lots and
yearn to see cows again. Mom spent her last
5 ½ years living with our family, spending
time in and out of the hospital for numerous
One day a DirecTV repairman was at our house
and took a liking to mom. He actually called
back after he had left our home to tell me about
a TV program he knew mom would enjoy. He said
turn to Channel 379, the RFD channel. Now my
son Dan and his grandma were nearly inseparable.
Mom had not been out of the hospital too long
when we learned of the RFD channel – Dan
would come over and watch TV with his grandma.
Not too long after introduction to this channel,
the two of them watched a special featuring
Maureen McCready and her little Dexter cattle.
two became fascinated with this small breed
of cattle. They watched this special several
times and what started out as a “reason
for mom not to give up and give her something
to look forward to”, the two planned a
road trip as soon as mom was up to it. Initially
mom just wanted one heifer, that she could spend
time with, enjoy and spoil rotten.
When mom was stable and ready for a car ride,
the two set out for the Des Moines area as Dan
had done some research and knew there was a
farm in that area where they could get up close
and personal with the enchanting little cows.
Now, from where we live, they traveled to Coon
Rapids, Iowa to Rick and Macheal Seydel’s
house, which is at least a three hour trip to
the WEST! By the end of the visit, Rick had
mom hooked. Somehow, before the day was over,
they had traveled back across the state (all
the way) and into Illinois which is EAST of
us, found a farm with Dexters for sale, purchased
a bull, heifer, young cow and an old cow (which
is named Rainbow Hills Miss Ellie and will never
leave the farm).
it is a good thing my husband is a kind and
good-natured man who, by the way, loved his
mother-in-law and would do anything for her.
The two told us they had purchased Dexters and
they were “just over the border of Illinois”.
Kevin was off to retrieve the little cattle
mom had purchased. By the way, a point to remember
is “just over the border” has different
definitions to different people. This was the
first of many trips – these two were unstoppable.
Kevin threatened to put the vehicle up on bricks
and remove the tires. Oh the stories we could
Mom so loved showing off her cows to anyone
and everyone that would listen. Many Iowa, Wisconsin,
Minnesota, Illinois and Missouri breeders visited
the farm over the first 2+ years of mom owning
Dexters. Absolutely nothing she loved more than
talking to a new person or old breeder of these
cows. One special moment for her was when Sally
Coad and a friend drove up from North Carolina
and spent an afternoon as she had purchased
some steers from mom and other local breeders.
She always looked forward to the next person
she could talk to about these great cattle.
Amazingly, some of the cattle that she bought
initially were not halter trained and some had
little if any human contact. Mom spent so much
time with the cows, that most would eat from
her hand and became super tame over time. It
was as though a light had been turned on again
in her eyes having cattle around. Mom and Dan
spent so many hours on the golf cart just enjoying
Mom’s last trip to the hospital was a
very tough one for all of us. She had a blockage
in her colon which turned out to be cancer.
She underwent surgery but her poor deteriorated
lungs just would not do the job. After spending
seven weeks in the hospital, three weeks in
intensive care, there was nothing more that
could be done. Mom was drugged and not very
responsive but the first set of Dexter twins
was born while she was in intensive care. I
remember going in and telling her about the
twins. Her eyes grew as big as silver dollars
as I told her about the twins. She loved her
cattle until the end.
Mom passed away August 25th 2006. Between her
cattle and Dan’s the herd had grown to
63 head. She was really proud to be a member
of the American Dexter Cattle Association, and
an ambassador for the breed. While her time
with Dexters and the ADCA were short, in the
little over 2 plus years, she developed many
friendships, and registered over 40 calves.
those that knew her, she will be sorely missed.
(Daughter of Ferne Rawson)
of Ferne enjoying the Dexters and Ferne's starter