Delinquent Pigs on the Run

By on Sep 13, 2017 in Carole's Corner |

The pigs were bouncing through the cow pasture barking at the turkeys and snorting at the calves. It was a delightful, happy scene except for one thing. These little piggies were escapees from their pig pasture across the road and occasionally snuck to our neighbor’s yard to steal apple drops. While fencing pigs is not complicated, it is fussy. These delinquent pigs each weigh about eighty pounds, just small enough to dive under the plastic handle. The handle is insulated so if they move quickly the handle will roll off their backs as they dive, at lightning speed, under it. Braver pigs dive under the bare wire to make their escape, risking a fleeting zap as they escape. Pigs are smart and once they see a sibling escape they all copy the move. They never go far and always return to the pig shed but it just wouldn’t do to have twenty-one piglets terrorizing the neighbor and...

Coming Home from the Hopkinton Fair

By on Sep 7, 2017 in Carole's Corner |

When I returned from the show ring with my oxen on Monday night the crew was already packing up our barn at the Hopkinton State Fair. I was exhausted and the cattle were ready to go home but we all had to wait until the posters, wheel barrow, show trunk, yokes and other stuff was jammed into the goose neck trailer. The barn had to be clean or we would face a $100 fine. The cattle, tied to the outside of the trailer, waited patiently for us to finish so they could be loaded up for the trip home. It was dark when we pulled into the farm and I unloaded the animals by trailer lights (the barn yard lights stopped working a few months ago) into a “quarantine pen,” where the cattle will stay separated from the rest of the herd for at least 10 days. Even though all the cattle are inspected for diseases when they arrive at the fair grounds, animals stabled together for 4 ½ days can still get...

Cattle are Pampered at the Hopkinton Fair

By on Aug 31, 2017 in Carole's Corner |

The cow washing is underway, horns are polished, and we’ve moved into the Hopkinton State Fair grounds for Labor Day weekend. If my cows are at the fair, so am I. This is the third year for my “cow sleep over” at the Fair. Some participants sleep in tents and others sleep with their cattle but we, fortunately, have a borrowed camper. Given the prospect of cold, wet weather this weekend, sleeping with my 2,800-pound oxen sounds like a warm idea. If I only had to get the animals ready for the fair, my life would be simple. But I also have to pack up yokes, brushes, four days of cattle feed for seven animals, Kaopectate for cattle belly aches (yes “fair food” can be upsetting for cattle), a wheel barrow, pitch forks, manure shovels, and all of my clothes and bedding as well. Each animal is inspected on arrival at Hopkinton. If the critter looks unhealthy it is sent home....

It’s Fair Season and the Cow Wash is Open

By on Aug 22, 2017 in Carole's Corner |

It’s time to setup the “cow wash” to get ready for the Hopkinton Fair which is almost here. The hair I clipped off my shaggy Scottish Highlanders in the Spring has grown back enough to collect dirt and it will take loads of soap and elbow grease make them show ring ready. Sadly this year I registered nine head of cattle for the fair which means I will: Give eighteen baths before the fair (two per animal) Give eighteen more baths after they arrive at the Fair Polish thirty-six hooves (four per animal) Clean out eighteen ears (two per animal) Cart away at least two wheelbarrows of manure daily Make sure they all have water and hay and exercise During the four days of the Hopkinton Fair, I am housekeeper, maid and chef to my cattle. I am also exhausted. Another job at the fair is to identify the critters with nameplates in their stalls so visitors can better communicate with them....

Hemmingway Goes to Boy Scout Camp

By on Aug 16, 2017 in Carole's Corner |

Hemmingway, a yearling Scottish Highlander, went to “summer camp” this year. I mean real summer camp. He was at Griswold Scout Reservation in Alton where he was brushed, walked, hugged and loved by the boy scouts for eight weeks. The camp has a farm program which included sheep, goats and, of course, Hemmingway. In July I got a call from Townsend Carmody, the camp’s farm program coordinator. The heifer she had arranged to bring to camp was too wild so she asked if we had any Highlanders to loan. Hemmingway was the answer. Hemmingway was born on Halloween last year to one of our most gentle cows, Missy. All winter he would escape with his partner in crime, Rowdy who was about four months older. The two hung out together, played together and escaped together. We use charged wire to keep our cattle in the pasture but in winter, with heavy snow, it’s hard to keep a good charge...