Cow Cuddles Are Free at Miles Smith FarmJanuary, 2019
By Carole Soule
Fiddlehead Contributing Writer
Editors’ Note: Fiddlehead welcomes a new columnist to our living local family. Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm in Loudon and writes about all creatures great and small.
Frustrated with your boss? Is your spouse ignoring you? Kids tuning you out? There’s a program for you. Cuddle a cow. Yes, now it’s a thing.
I recently heard that Mountain Horse Farm in upstate New York is offering cow- and horse-cuddling sessions for a fee. Cuddling a horse and a cow simultaneously (which seems excessive to me) can cost $130 an hour, while cow cuddling alone is $90.
That seems like a lot. After all, what’s time to a cow?
I was astounded that people would be willing to pay good money to cuddle a cow – but maybe it isn’t so weird. My therapist is a big ox.
When I’m not sure we can make the payroll, or a mud hole won’t let go of the Bobcat (it’s a machine), my first thought is to go to the pasture and scratch Topper’s chin. He’s a 1,500-pound ox who will walk up to me and rest his head on my shoulder while I scratch his neck.
Born on the farm six years ago, Topper and his partner Stash are a team. I put a yoke on them, and with just a goad stick and my voice they do what I ask. Sometimes I don’t even have to ask. Cattle can read minds. Maybe horses can, too.
Mountain Horse Farm claims, “Horses will pick up on what’s going on inside and sense if you are happy, sad, feel lost, anxious or are excited, and they will respond to that without judgment, ego or agenda.”
Yes, this is true for horses (we have four), but it’s also true of cows. And their emotional makeup is more complex.
A horse’s natural response to danger is flight. Cattle have two instinctive options – fight or flight. A frightened cow could either flee or fight. It’s their decision. Happily, my cattle feel secure and are more than approachable.
Because they are so amiable, we allow cow cuddling free of charge. At our regular farm events folks are encouraged to pet, scratch and even sit on my cattle.
I want to help others make the same connection to farming that I have – to feel the soft breathing of a cow, look into those big brown eyes, smell the sweet breath and feel the warmth of that big body (101.5 degrees). The inopportune arrival of manure can break the reverie, but what of it? It’s all part of the earthy package.
Connecting to a simpler way of life – a time when we raised animals for meat and grew crops to eat – that’s my goal. Cow cuddling not only makes me feel better, it means I’m doing what I love: farming.
But I’m willing to share.
If you are ever near Loudon, drop in at Miles Smith Farm and I’ll lend you a cow. Cow cuddling is free of charge, and on Saturday, Feb. 9, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., you can celebrate Valentine’s Day by hugging one of our heifers. For more information, visit www.milessmithfarm.com
If you feel the need to spend your money, it might be best to buy locally raised meat and vegetables, and you’ll feel better all over again – supporting those cuddlesome cows, preserving the landscape and knowing you are eating wholesome food raised by people with bad backs and good intentions.
After all, stress will always be with us, but farms – with their green fields and rolling pastures, their lazily grazing livestock and their harmonious blending of nature and industry – are here to soothe you whether you are visiting a farm stand, cuddling a cow or just driving by.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.