The Ups and Downs of Farming


For the Monitor

Published: 09-09-2023 11:00 AM

Last week, I shared a story about Mr. Devon, a calf whose weaning had gone sideways. He had an extreme and possibly deadly case of scours (calf diarrhea), and every treatment we tried failed. He’s the only one of the Devon breed of beef cattle on Miles Smith Farm. When sickly Mr. Devon started sharing a stall with Holly, a Scottish Highlander, he improved but became sluggish and bloated after each bottle of milk replacer. When his temperature hit 104 (normal calf temps are 101-102), I started penicillin – again.

After liberal doses of Kaopectin and Pepto Bismol to help control the scours and hand-feeding him a pelleted, high-protein grain called “calf manna,” he’s perked up, and even though his ribs still show, he’s doing better. He even likes the cherry-flavored Pepto he gets three times daily and sucks down the raw milk yogurt we hand-feed him. His care takes time, so I was ecstatic when my farm friend Jean Blodget offered to help. Twelve other calves also need feeding, so Jean’s assistance is a blessing.

Given his will to live, Mr. Devon is likely to survive. He’s luckier than some of the cattle I’ve treated over the years. All too often, farming is a matter of life and death.

How do I make peace with the tragedy? What soothes the pain of losing an animal prematurely? It’s the wonder of working with livestock – the antics of healthy calves as they butt heads and kick up their heels, the quiet fellowship of thousand-pound pets like Curious Bleu, and the breath of a steer on my neck as I scratch his neck.

After two years of writing, rewriting, and editing, I finally have produced a book that lets you see inside my farm. My weekly columns have given some of you a view of farming, but my book takes you deep into the workings of my farm and my sometimes-befuddled mind. After all, I’ve checked the glove compartment, and Miles Smith Farm has no owner’s manual. Farmers learn as they go, and it turns out that adversity is my best teacher.

Join me at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 6:30 p.m. when I unveil my second book, “Yes, I Name Them.” I’ll answer your questions and might bring a farm animal. No, not Curious Bleu. He is gentle, but the next-worst thing to a bull in a china shop would be an ox in a bookstore.

Carole is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm ( at Loudon, N.H., where she raises beef and shares the joys of her Farm with kids and adults. She can be reached at Join Carole for a reading from her second book, “Yes, I Name Them,” at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, N.H., on Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 6:30 p.m.


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