Farm visitors

  • Taesa Jung (right) and Carole Soule pose with watercolor paintings of the farm. —Courtesy of Carole Soule

  • Four boys from New York City pose with Curious Bleu, a riding Highlander steer, when they stayed at the farm last year. Courtesy of Carole Soule

  • Korean artist Taesa Jung created watercolors of the farm. Courtesy of Carole Soule

  • The Princeton University race car team has stayed at Miles Smith Farm in Loudon for the last four years when they compete in the battery-powered college competition at the Loudon Motor Speedway. Last year, they named a heifer calf, Black Diamond Tiger (pictured), when she was born during their visit. This year, another calf was born during their stay. Courtesy of Carole Soule

For the Monitor
Monday, May 14, 2018

They came from Australia, Hawaii, South Korea and even Nashua to visit our cows and pigs. We’ve even had visitors come from Vietnam. They are all places I have never been to, except Nashua.

Most stayed a night, some longer and while here they visited with “house pig” Tazzy, rode a cow and shared stories. It all started in 2014 when we rented out our farmhouse apartment on the online hospitality service AirBnB.

My travels stopped in 2012 when I left my job at Hewlett Packard to become a full-time farmer. While being paid by Hewlett Packard, I could travel and pay the mortgage at the same time.

After I left to farm full-time my income disappeared making travel out of the question. (The funny thing about mortgages is that the bank gives you money, and then they want you to pay them back!)

My husband Bruce and I decided that the best way to keep the bank happy was to rent out the apartment that is attached to the farmhouse. After cleaning and re-painting, we listed the two-bedroom, two-bath apartment with views of cattle out every window on AirBnB. We had our first booking on Christmas 2014.

Ours is a bed and make-your-own breakfast where visitors can cook in the apartment kitchen. I didn’t worry about providing a meal but I did worry about other things. Should we put a lock on the door? Should we iron the sheets? Should we leave out fruit?

I was right about the lock but wrong about the sheets. Our first guests were from Chicago and suggested the lock. They didn’t seem to notice the ironed sheets. Later, I discovered that most new hosts were concerned about housing strangers. That never occurred to me.

Since then, we’ve had hundreds of guests; people who want to stay on a farm, visit with Tazzy or soak in the hot tub.

Some people come with children who play with the indoor toy barnyard or ride the now-famous Curious Bleu, our super-tame 6-year-old Scottish Highlander steer.

All visitors see the farm differently. Families get to name calves born during their visit. On one occasion, two calves were born during a family’s stay. Some get to see piglets being born. Some just like to walk the hills and look at the views.

That each visitor brings a new perspective is healthy for a crusty, old farmer like me.

Mostly though, I like to learn about my visitors: where they are from, where they are going, why they picked my farm.

Our visitors from South Korea were on a tour of the states. Their mother was a renowned Korean artist and did several watercolor drawings of the farm. She left me two sketches that I treasure.

Another family shared stories of escaping from Vietnam after the war ended.

The folks from Australia were farmers, so we shared farming “war stories.” 

I’ll never forget the family from England; the wife worked on a small farm and promised to show me around her farm if I ever made it to the U.K.

Sadly, I think my traveling days are over. The cows need daily feeding, the pigs are always squealing for food, and most pressing: the mortgage needs paying.

Things aren’t so bad, though. As long as travelers keep making their way to the farm, I feel like I’m on an adventure.

I do believe I’ll get as far as Nashua again, but meanwhile I’ll look forward to our next visitors from far away. Maybe someone from Figi will visit! I’ve never met anyone from the South Pacific. I can only hope.

(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.)