Calves, Rams, & Billies

Over the past several weeks, things have been a bit noisy around the ranch. Calves have been weaned from their mothers, so they’re sure to let us know how they feel about it. Cows & calves ball for each other, but it doesn’t take them long to figure out that they can survive just fine without each other.

Calves are about 8-9 months old at weaning. We vaccinated the calves with a booster shot, treated them with a pour on solution for internal & external parasites, and branded them.

All calves received an ‘HIL’ brand, while some heifers & all bulls received a number brand as well {corresponding to their ear tag}. Heifers that will most likely be retained for ownership received a number brand. These heifers were selected based on visual appeal, as well as pedigree records.

At weaning, cows are about 4-5 months bred. It is important that the cows have a break from nursing a calf in order to provide adequate nutrition to the growing fetus inside of her.


November meant time to gather rams & billies in order to be put with ewes & nannies for breeding season. Once gathered, we sorted them based on conformation, structural soundness, & desirable wool & mohair characteristics. We then put them out in various pastures with our ewes & nannies. Ewes & nannies should begin lambing in April.


One family; 130 years of stewardship

On October 7th, we celebrated 130 years of Hillingdon Ranch. Judge Darrel Lux {Kendall County Judge} even proclaimed October 7th as HILLINGDON RANCH DAY in Kendall County!

130th Proclamation

The day’s festivities were kicked off with a welcome by Robin Giles & a prayer by Laura Giles Mullen.


Family & friends enjoyed a BBQ & lamb meal, followed by lots of visiting & reminiscing, viewing the 50’+ family tree, walking around the barns & working pens, & viewing a slideshow of pictures…

We’re thankful to be a part of something so unique! As Robin said at the celebration…

‘Grandpa had to have instilled something in his children that they instilled in us, & we are attempting to instill in our children & grandchildren.’

‘Since Grandpa divided his land with his brother-in-law in 1917, the Giles heirs have not sold a single piece of Hillingdon Ranch in 130 years…’

‘We have an extreme appreciation of each other & the fact that if any of us did sell, it would be so detrimental to the rest of the family. We have such an appreciation of each other that I think that’s the reason it’s stayed together.’ 

Thanks to everyone for being a part of such a special day!

Thanks to Kyle Porter, Walter Royse, & Marla Sonsel for the photos.

Shearin’ & Sellin’

It’s shearing time! Lots of hours here recently have gone into gathering, shearing, & sorting.

The shearing crew has spent several days shearing yearling billies & nannies. These nannies sheared about 4-5 lbs of mohair each. {On average, nannies produce 8-10 lbs of mohair annually.}

We decided to hold off on shearing the kids for another 4-6 weeks so their hair can continue to grow. Kid hair is our most valuable hair, which is why having it longer is best. Longer hair =more hair=more profit.

After the yearling billies were sheared, we sorted through them & selected keeper billies & sale billies. All others became ‘muttons’ (male goat that has been castrated). We castrate with a burdizzo (device with large clamp designed to break the blood vessels leading to the testicles). Once the blood supply to the testicles is lost, the testicles shrink, soften, & eventually deteriorate completely. We then tipped their horns so they are easily differentiated from billies.

Nannies were turned back into the pastures, while kids were put on fields. These fields have ample grass & are close by so we can keep an eye on them, all while they grow more hair!

On August 22nd, we sold just under 200 ram lambs at the Gillespie Livestock Auction in Fredericksburg. These lambs had been in the feedlot since weaning (mid-July) & have been fed a prepared ration in order to gain weight at a quicker rate. The Muslim Festival of Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha) was at the end of August, which is why this was an ideal time to sell the lambs. Muslims sacrifice a domestic animal (typically sheep) during this festival.

Summer at Hillingdon

The past few weeks have been spent weaning lambs & working cattle.

Ewes & lambs were gathered from the pastures so lambs could be weaned. Ewes & lambs were drenched, & lambs were vaccinated. Ewes returned to the pastures, & lambs were put in the feedlot where they are fed a prepared ration. Having the lambs on feed in the feedlot keeps them in good condition & makes them readily available to sell for key Muslim holidays.

Cattle have recently been gathered pasture by pasture so calves could be worked for the first time. Working calves includes ear tagging, vaccinating, treating for internal & external parasites, & castrating most bull calves. Bulls & cows also received a round of antibiotics & were treated for internal & external parasites.

Snip had {another} litter of puppies on July 6th. She has her paws full with seven puppies demanding her time & attention, but she has some little guys willing to help her at times. 😉 This makes Snip’s third litter in about one year!


Welcome to Hillingdon Happenings

Welcome to Hillingdon Happenings!

In the April 2017 issue of The Hillingdon Herald, we explained why it would be our last issue of the newsletter. We’ve decided to post more to the Facebook page, have joined Instagram, & have started to blog! Please be patient with us as we learn some new {to us} facets of social media. 😉

We hope to send out blog updates periodically so you can continue to keep up with what is going on here at the ranch. If you are on Facebook &/or Instagram, please find us on there as well!


Lots of goat kids were born in April…

Bulls were put out with cows in late May for March calving…