The Cow Spa is Open

By on May 24, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

It’s Spring which means the Cow Spa is open! It’s time to clean up the clippers, sharpen the scissors and schedule spa time for the cows and steers. While the Scottish Highlander long hairy coat is perfect for winter, summer heat is another matter. Imagine wearing a heavy down parka all summer? For cows and yearlings that don’t shed that’s just what it’s like in the summer. Some of the cattle shed their winter coats but those that don’t get scheduled in the spa. The cattle at Miles Smith Farm love the spa. Given the choice between hay and the spa, my cattle will choose the spa every time. The gentle vibration of clippers against cow skin and release from a shaggy coat of hair lulls each cow into a semi-stupor. Her head will sink towards the ground and when I clip her neck she’ll stretch forward so I don’t miss a spot. Depending on the...

Bury Me Standing

By on May 16, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

Sarah was in labor so I brought her to the holding area where I could keep watch. Sarah is a Scottish Highlander cow who had given birth to a lively, healthy calf last year. She was the first of our cows to give birth this year but this year was not good for Sarah. I found the black bull calf shortly after it was born, dead. Thankfully Sarah was fine and didn’t seem upset about her lost calf. When farm animals die unexpectantly we bury them on the property. If we dragged them into the woods coyotes would eat them and develop a taste for farm animals, something we don’t want to encourage. Besides an animal cemetery, we also have a people cemetery where the farm’s founders, Miles Smith, his wife Eliza, daughters and baby grandson, are buried. The cemetery is surrounded by a stone wall but Mile’s gravestone peaks over the top of the wall and can be seen from the...

The Trees are Alive, with Bees!

By on May 10, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

Every year, about this time, the three heritage apple trees in my backyard burst into blossom. Some years they whimper into spring with just a few buds but this year there is an abundance of blossoms. With this many blossoms and good weather during the summer, we should have a bonanza of apples in the fall. Many years ago these trees were surrounded by forest and struggled to produce apples. We freed them from their confinement by cutting down the surrounding trees. We also pruned them. I was told by a Yankee farmer that apple trees should be pruned so that you can, “Throw a cat through the middle.” While we never sent our cat flying through the tree, I assumed that meant most of the branches should be trimmed. Rather than shock these old trees after they were rescued from the forest by cutting lots of branches in one year, we trimmed just a bit every winter. Winter is the best time to...

Lawn Mooers At Work

By on May 2, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

Grass is growing, calves are being born, it must be Spring on the farm. With this warm weather and rain the grass is exploding from the ground and it’s time to get those cows and steers to work; harvesting grass. If you have a lawn you know the demands of mowing. For humans lawn mowing is a chore, for cattle, it’s a job they love to do. Grass is an abundant resource that humans spend hours trying to control while cows do it naturally. We like to think of our cattle as “lawn mooers.” During the summer cattle grow fat on grass that is abundant and prolific and, except during last year’s drought, is abundant. In New England, we rarely have to water our lawns or pastures since nature usually provides adequate rain. Cattle can “harvest” grass on hillsides and around rocks that gardeners spend hours trimming with expensive weed whackers. An added benefit is that while...

Life and Death on the Farm

By on Apr 23, 2017 in Carole's Corner |

“Do you process your cows on your farm?” The answer is, “Not if I want to sell the meat.” All meat we sell has to be processed at a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) inspected facility. The critter has to walk, not be carried, into the processing facility and must be observed by a USDA inspector before it is processed. We have processed cattle on our farm but, by USDA law, we cannot sell that meat. We can eat it ourselves but we can’t sell it. The USDA is a branch of the US Government and is run by the Secretary of Agriculture who sits on the US President’s Cabinet. USDA was started in 1862 by President Lincoln and has helped farms for over 150 years. Most farmers I know have received financial help from the USDA and it is possible many farms are in business today because of help from the USDA. From my perspective, the USDA is a good organization. I’m not...