‘Cow wash’ to prepare cattle for fair season

  • Topper, a clean Scottish Highlander ox, waits for breakfast at the Hopkinton Fair in 2016. Courtesy of Carole Soule

For the Monitor
Saturday, August 26, 2017

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 to make them show ring ready. Sadly, this year I registered nine head of cattle for the fair which means I will:

Give 18 baths before the fair (two per animal)

Give 18 more baths after they arrive at the fair

Polish 36 hooves (four per animal)

Clean out 18 ears (two per animal)

Cart away at least two wheelbarrows of manure daily

Make sure they all have water, 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. Naming cattle can be a challenge, especially since names are “forever.” To help choose names for a pair of working steers I held a Facebook contest. Too late I discovered that the winning names: Snuffaluffagus (Snuffy) and Ben were names of two drug dealers in a movie.

I named my now-famous riding steer Curious Bleu because he was born on a blue moon in 2012. The thing is, Bleu’s hair color is red. We have another ox named Red but Red’s hair color is silver, also known as blue. So Red is blue and Bleu is red. Get it? Naming cattle is hard.

Bleu and Red won’t be coming to the Hopkinton Fair but some of my other spoiled and pampered oxen and cows will be there, including Hemmingway, the bull, with his Boy Scout badges.

Stop by to give them a hug or cheer them on in the ring. You are also welcome to help keep them clean. Thirty-six hooves is a lot of polishing!

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