From the farm: Shopping for cows

Andrew M. Santos

Published: 6/11/2022 1:56:51 PM

Modified: 6/11/2022 1:54:33 PM

In March, Kevin Cole from Pittsfield called because he was selling his entire herd of Scottish Highlanders to make room for more Belted Galloways. He asked, “Did I want to buy them?” Did I need 24 more bovines?

This spring, my herd was down to 23, the perfect size. Why would I want more cattle? But just like a clearance sale at J.C. Penny’s, I can never resist a bargain, and because Kevin lived nearby in Pittsfield, picking them up would be convenient.

My answer was, “Why not?”

There are three reasons to buy cattle in the spring; grass, grass, and more grass. Instead of feeding expensive hay, the cattle can feast on lush, green grass. And then there are the calves.

Who doesn’t want to see furry little calves chasing each other in a calf game of tag? I do. Besides, I had raised some of the cattle in Kevin’s herd and was glad to welcome them back to Miles Smith Farm.

Nina, a silver Scottish Highlander cow born on the farm in 2015, was sold to a Belmont farm before Kevin bought her. Nora and Mable were mine before I sold them to Kevin last year when hay was scarce, and now each had a 6-month-old heifer calf. It’s always good to see old friends and their calves, especially when there is lots of grass to eat.

Most of Kevin’s herd was not people-socialized, so after buying them, I attempted to halter train each cow. Some cows will fight the halter, and some won’t. But cattle are smart, and most will accept the pressure of the rope and calm down, but some never give up fighting. While doable, halter breaking a reluctant thousand-pound cow is not as easy as training a two-hundred-pound calf, but I love the challenge of adding value through teaching while trying not to get killed.

I aim to keep some cows for breeding and sell the most friendly ones as “backyard critters.” Nora and Mable now live on a beautiful farm in Virginia, and I’m training their daughters, Daffodil and Harmony, to voice commands. Soon those two will be more obedient than most dogs. Did I say I love teaching cattle?

Some women shop for jewelry, and others for clothes. My weakness is cattle shopping. I wonder how husband Bruce will react when I tell him I just bought eleven more?

Carole Soule is the co-owner of Miles Smith Farm (milessmithfarm.com) in Loudon, N.H. She raises and sells beef, pork, lamb, eggs, and other local products. She can be reached at [email protected]

Carole’s Corner is a farming and agriculture column. It runs every week in the Sunday Your Life section. The author is co-owner of a local farm and not a member of the Monitor’s staff.

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