From the Farm: Thanks to husband Bruce

  • Bruce, like me, loves communicating with bovines, like Millie, a three-month-old heifer. Bruce's magical ability to fix all things mechanical at Miles Smith Farm makes it possible to feed and care for our herd of Scottish Highland cattle. Carole Soule / For the Monitor

For the Monitor
Published: 12/19/2022 10:34:19 AM
Modified: 12/19/2022 10:31:33 AM

Miles Smith Farm would not be possible without a partner like my husband, Bruce.

In the 1970s, Bruce learned how to program computers using paper tape and computer cards. By the 1980s, he was a well-paid programmer for Digital Equipment Corp. When his managers needed Bruce’s expertise at one of their remote offices, they would fly him there by helicopter.

When I was learning how to write computer programs, I met Bruce in 1984 at a meeting in Nashua of users of Unix (a computer operating system).

Later, I asked him to come to the farm to network the computers for my first husband, Loring, and me.

That first marriage came complete with fireworks and electricity. After the emotional sparks faded, Loring and I made our marriage work for almost 25 years. When he died in 1999, I sobbed myself to sleep at night. I missed him.

However, second love is possible, and Bruce was there when I needed him.

After we had dated awhile, Bruce said, “I think it would be more convenient if we lived together.” For a nerd’s nerd like Bruce, this is what passes for romance.

Three months after his “proposal,” Bruce moved in, bringing along a cute, orange, 30-horsepower Kubota tractor. Marriage ensued. The Kubota was followed by another bigger tractor called a “Bobcat” that we used to bring 1,000-pound round bales of hay to the cattle. Now we have a third tractor, a newer 65-horsepower red Mahindra. Whether the tractor is newish or older, they all have one thing in common – a need for repairs.

Bruce is a wizard at research and will spend hours on YouTube learning how to fix a broken tractor, generator, or pressure washer. Some women need flowers and candle-lit dinners. This one goes for a man who can fix things, including the fences that keep our cattle where we want them to be. No matter how well built, fences will break when a tree falls on the wire or a frightened cow charges through.

Bruce also loves caring for the cattle. He says, “Whenever I see them, I think the cattle are telling me, ‘Give me food, me, me, me.’ Each animal has a personality. I like it when they come to me looking for a neck scratch or back rub.

“Of course, they don’t always do what I want. When I push a button (or key) on a computer, it responds, and if I don’t like the response, I’ll fix the program. Push a button, and something happens, but animals require a lot of button-pushing. Still, I chose to be a farmer, but I never expected to have 60 cattle.” (Numbers rise and fall, and that’s about the most we ever have around here.)

Life on a farm is challenging, but Bruce’s calm nature is a comfort after the turbulent years with Loring. Having a husband who does the dishes, fixes broken machinery, and loves animals is a dream come true.

(Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm, milessmithfarm.com, in Loudon, where she sells beef and other local products. She can be reached at carolesoule60@gmail.com.)


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