From the farm: Counting blessings

  • While Bear looks on and Flora kisses her, I give Millie, my three-month-old Highland calf, a hug. Calf hugs cure the blues and allow a farmer to accept everything as it is. You can hug Millie on Dec. 17, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Christmas on the Farm held at Miles Smith Farm. Register at CAROLE SOULE / For the Monitor

For the Monitor
Published: 12/13/2022 10:29:01 AM
Modified: 12/13/2022 10:28:31 AM

After 20 years raising cattle, you’d think I’d be unaffected by June, the cow who walks over looking for scratches, or Tazzy, the grumpy mini-pig grunting for dinner.

But despite the years, the critters still pull on my heartstrings. I melt when Millie the calf looks at me with her blue Highland eyes, and Curious Bleu lets me sit on his back.

A farmer’s life is not all fuzzy calves, grumpy pigs, and tolerant steers.

This year two calves died, and I broke down sobbing with each death. (I know this sounds weird, coming from the proprietor of a meat farm, but I can’t help how I feel.)

But then Millie was born. Now she is three months old and obsessed with her daily bottle of milk replacer. A fluffy, somewhat-weaned Scottish Highland calf, Millie thinks anyone with a bottle of milk replacer is her best friend. Each morning she lies at the gate of the holding pen, waiting for me to deliver her “milk,” which she sucks down in seconds. Then she bounces and jumps, following me to the house. She’d come inside, but husband, Bruce, said, “No!” So Millie hangs around outside the farm store, waiting for a hug or a customer to feed her smashed-pumpkin bits. When it’s time for her afternoon bottle, she latches on to the nipple like it’s her first meal in a week.

Bear the steer makes me laugh when he gallops to the fence for a bite of smashed pumpkin like a racehorse crossing the finish line. Then there is Topper, my 1,500-pound Highland ox, who walks up to me in the pasture, puts his head on my shoulder, and closes his eyes as I scratch his chin.

While counting blessings, let’s enumerate the unique qualities of my herd:

Highland cattle grow long shaggy coats that protect better than L.L. Bean’s most rugged parkas. They only need food, water, and a windbreak to thrive in the cold. It’s impressive that they don’t need a warm, cozy house. They are designed for winter.

Cattle don’t hold grudges or grievances. If I am late feeding them, all is forgiven as soon as I give them food. They have no emotional baggage.

Cattle eat grass, weeds, and brush to make my fields look like well-manicured lawns. They trim around rocks better than the best weed whacker and fertilize as they go.

No matter how many times I’ve seen a calf born, it’s still a miracle.

Curious cattle remember individual humans. Name tags are not required. They identify us by how we walk and our scent. When training a calf, I let the calf sniff my hair. If the calf whiffs my cowlick, he’ll remember me.

A halter-trained 50-pound heifer will be halter trained when she grows into a 1,000-pound cow. A lesson learned is never forgotten.

As I walk around my farm, I’ve learned to look at the ever-changing clouds, hanging like a ceiling of cotton balls one minute and the next racing across the heavens in streaks of white. Rather than fuss about the yard that needs cleaning or the trash that needs to go to the dump, I look up. Most evenings, the sunset is God painting in pastels with clouds stretching along the horizon, reflecting pink, yellow, and blue as the Earth spins into the night. When I take the time to see the magic in the sky and my cattle, I feel all is well and that this farmer and my bovines are one small but essential piece of the universe.

Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm (, in Loudon, N.H., where she sells beef and other local products. She can be reached at

Stay informed with our free email updates
Concord Monitor Daily Headlines
Concord Monitor Breaking News
Concord Monitor Dining & Entertainment
Concord Monitor Report For America Education
Concord Monitor Report For America Health
Concord Monitor Real Estate
Concord Monitor Sports
Concord Monitor Suncook Valley
Concord Monitor Contests & Promotions
Concord Monitor Weekly Most Popular
Concord Monitor Granite Geek
Concord Monitor Monitor Marquee
Concord Monitor Hopkinton
Concord Monitor Politics
Concord Monitor MY CONCORD
Concord Monitor Franklin

Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301


© 2021 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy

Customer Service

Social Media


View All Sections

Part of the Newspapers of New England Family