Sunday, 16 November 2014

Inside view of the Watusi family

The large horns define the Watusi – big, gentle giants
In 2006, Charles Engels, rural Palisade, bought a Watusi cow and bull because he intended to eventually mount their horns.
“But I couldn’t do that to them,” he said.
His unique-looking Watusi cattle have horns about 92 inches across (think of Texas longhorn).
The bull and cow, named Michael and Michelle, weren’t very old when they arrived from Texas at a nursery in Long Lake. They were 6 years old when Engels purchased them.
“I tried to follow their lineage, but they were the end of that branch,” said Engels.
The pair doesn’t produce a calf every year – they’ve had perhaps six since Charles and Pam Engels have owned them. The calves are small when born, only about 25 pounds. (When weighed two years ago, the bull totaled 3,850 pounds).
The most recent offspring is “September” born in September 2013. They’ve sold all the previous calves but are considering butchering this one.
Charles doesn’t know the cow is pregnant until within two weeks of the birth. On the day September was born, the bull came to the fence and bellered until Charles or Pam came out to see the addition.
Engels said the Watusi live a long time – 30 years or more. They come in multiple colors and love to eat corn, apples and hay.
Asked if there are any special challenges raising this type of cattle in the northern climate, Engels said, “they’re no different from other cattle – they’re just bigger.”
Charles and Pam both grew up in southwestern Minnesota. After they married, they lived on the Iron Range for a time where Charles worked for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).
The couple lived in Howard Lake from 1985-2011. Charles worked for MnDOT, mostly on bridges, and Pam worked in a letter shop. Since they lived in town, they kept the cattle at other property they owned.
They moved to rural Palisade, next to the Mississippi River, when they retired in 2011.
“We really like the friendliness of the area,” said Charles. “The neighbors are great and everyone is so willing to help each other.”
On the Engels’ property is the former Palisade train depot building, which they use for a farm building. The center of their home is part of the section master housing at the train stop. Those buildings were erected about 1910 and moved to this property in the 1970s.
There is a flowing well there where Charles said steamboats used to stop for water. He is wondering if anyone has photos of this or of the old depot buildings.

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