Life Saving Tools on the Farm

By on Oct 19, 2017 in Carole's Corner |

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The two calves tied in the feed bunker where hopelessly tangled. They were tied with quick release knots but these silly calves had twisted their ropes together making the quick release knots impossible to reach. They were in trouble and needed to be freed quickly.

Snuff and Ben

Calves tied with quick-release knots. Photo by Carole Soule Miles Smith Farm

All of our farm workers and 4H members are required to learn how to tie a quick release knot but in this case, another tool might be required; a knife. A knife can save lives, cattle lives and a farmer’s life, too. When working on equipment clothing sometimes get caught in machinery. An accessible knife can cut away clothes and release a farmer from injury or even death. Of course for some of us keeping a knife handy is the trick. My cargo pants, with six or more pockets, helps but I still lose knives as often as I lose my glasses.

Fortunately, there is a solution. Have you ever had a knife or metal letter opener in your carry-on luggage at the airport confiscated? Have you forgotten your belt or water bottle or camera at the TSA security checkpoint? Wonder where that stuff ends up? Most of it goes to surplus stores like the one at White’s Farm on Clinton Street in Concord where there are bins of knives, belts, cameras and other forgotten or confiscated stuff from airports. The bargains are plentiful and the store is open to the public (no checks please) on most Mondays from 8am-3pm.

I periodically stock up on TSA collected knives and reading glasses, which are also abundant at the surplus store. In the case of the stuck calves, I was able to untangle them without using my knife to cut their halters but if I needed it, my knife was handy. Besides helping free tangled animals I’ll often use my knife to open packages encased in plastic or slice open a bag. No need for a fancy knife, I’ll just re-purpose someone’s lost property and maybe save a calf’s life or even open a sealed box.  Anything is possible.

If you want to learn how to tie a quick release knot check out this video:

Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm, in Loudon, NH, where she raises and sells beef, pork, lamb, eggs and other local products. She can be reached at