Red velvet spots the 75 acres that consist of Everett Farms. Those “spots” are Red Poll cattle and belong to Dean Everett. Dean and his family, wife Kathy and children Cassi, Libby, and Emilie, have lived on the Key Peninsula for 23 years. They have been raising cattle for 20 years but the Red Poll breed for 12.

The Everetts own the largest herd west of the continental divide and the only herd in Washington state. What’s so unique about this breed, besides their aesthetic qualities? They are classified as “rare” on the endangered watch list.

In a society of mass production, Red Polls are more suited for the family homesteads. They are dual-purpose animals, good milk and tender beef producers but not in quantity. They mature quickly and can be weaned at 200- plus days at 650 pounds, with steers averaging 1,200 pounds in a year. The females are genetically predispositioned for calving ease and the breed is gentle. Add to that the red velvet appearance of their shiny coats, the white switch at the end of their tail, and you can see why they make good farm animals.

Dean has also owned a framing shop in Gig Harbor called “Framers Workshop” for 10 years. He’s been framing for 33, but is not quite ready to give up his shop to farm full-time. “I’d miss the creativity, and I’ve got great customers,” he said.

He looks at his Red Polls not just as meat products but as living creatures. He gives them constant attention, naming many of them; he has clean pastures, plenty of water, fermented hay called “Haylage” because it’s higher in protein; and the cattle are free of antibiotics and hormones.

Dean Everett reminds people how farming used to be, clean, ethical, and humane. What does he have to say about the mad-cow disease scare? “Come meet your breeder! See where the cattle are, how they live.”

When the cattle go to “the other place,” it is a USDA-approved, humane packaging facility. Everett respects these gentle creatures and is proud. He sells the meat to independent buyers, but with 46 head, only 10 to12 go for packaging. The rest are for breeding purposes, so the meat is only available until gone.