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...

Saving Two Piglets

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

Lucky’s first litter started with nine live piglets but now she has just seven. The two missing piglets aren’t dead or missing, they are living on my porch with Tazzy our Yucatan mini pig. I had to remove these two from their mom to save their lives. At 6 AM on Friday three weeks ago Lucky, a black Hampshire sow, was in labor. By 9 AM she had given birth to nine piglets and two more that were born dead. From the beginning, Lucky was a good mom. She didn’t squish any of her tiny babies and all of them were nursing and healthy. A week later I noticed two of the babies were smaller than the others. At two weeks they were half the size of their bigger, porkier siblings. One of the little pigs, named Napoleon by our AirBNB guests, had scabs on the sides of his face from bites by his siblings when he tried to nurse. Then I found Napoleon wandering as if he were blind...

A New Calf At the Farm

By on Aug 3, 2017 in Carole's Corner |

The Scottish Highlander calf showed up Sunday morning about 6 AM. I found her an hour later already on her feet. Even at 7 AM, it was hot and flies were buzzing around the still wet calf. To avoid fly strike we carried the baby, with mother cow following, to the holding pen where it was cooler and almost fly free. Flies are abundant in the grassy fields but not so much in dirt paddocks and the holding pen. Wet babies are the usual victims of a condition called “Fly Strike”. The larvae from flies will eat dead skin, creating more dead skin until the calf is overwhelmed with maggots and dies. Death like this is ugly and can happen in hours so it is critical keep summer calves fly free. Calves born in cooler weather are safe. An AirBNB guest who was staying with us the day she was born, named the calf, “Ryder.” The calf had a name and was now safe from fly strike but then my next fear...

Bucky, the Boar, Takes Charge

By on Jul 26, 2017 in Carole's Corner |

The piglet was stuck under a fallen tree branch squealing to be released. Bucky, our seven hundred pound boar, was doing his best to lift the branch off the unhappy piglet but with only his snout to work with was not having success. For the past month, Bucky has been the leader of a bunch of ten-week old piglets who adore him. This is unusual because at best boars ignore piglets, at worst they kill and sometimes eat them. Bucky is a gentle boar who takes a real interest in these fourteen piglets who are his offspring. We had weaned the fourteen piglets several weeks earlier and kept them separate from the bigger pigs. That worked until one day I forgot to latch the piglet’s pen door. All fourteen piglets, about fifteen pounds each, escaped through the open door. I found them hanging out with Bucky, their dad. Not only were all the piglets alive but Bucky seemed to like their...