Gratitude on the Farm
Story and photos By Carole Soule
Fiddlehead Contributing Writer
This Thanksgiving, I’m thinking how a farm can be so much more than a business.
Dave, a friend of Miles Smith Farm, finished stacking the cordwood. This was a pile anyone would admire. Each piece of wood perfectly aligned with the next; none jutting out. To give it stability, he cross-stacked corners and end rows, weaving it together.
Not only does Dave stack wood, but he had also helped cut and split it. Dave does this because he wants to, not because I pay him; I don’t. All he expects is a “thank you.”
Occasionally, while he’s working, a stray calf will mosey over to see what’s going on. Never in a rush, Dave will take a moment to chat until his young friend wanders off.
We have other “angels” who help on the farm, like the Highland Riders 4-H Club members who lease calves from us. The youngsters teach the at-first-unruly calves to be led and to stand still when brushed.
In September and October, they take their now-well-trained heifers to the Hopkinton and Deerfield fairs, where they parade their perfectly groomed charges in the show ring.
No matter how badly my day has gone, my spirits are lifted by Dave and the enthusiasm of the 4-Hers. On our “Cuddle a Cow” days on the farm I treasure a boy’s delight as he brushes Missy, a Highlander cow; the smiles of a young girl sitting on Curious Bleu, a Highland steer; and the giggles of a girl as she scratches the back of Charlotte the pig.
I love them for reminding me of the marvels that abound here – like the calves who sneak out under the fence to eat fallen apples, naughty but so cute. And Topper and Stash, my 5,200-pound pair of oxen, who pull a log sled and go “gee” (right) or “haw” (left) on command. (If only husband Bruce was so compliant!)
Seeing a calf born and watching as her mother coos to her as she licks the baby dry is also worthy of rejoicing.
Mostly, though, my heart goes out to folks like you, who buy beef and pork and lamb from us, who keep our little world afloat financially. Whether you buy our meat at a farmers’ market or a retail store or eat at a restaurant that carries our beef, or if you buy vegetables or beef produced on other New Hampshire farms, I thank you. It’s your support that ensures the survival of local farms like ours.
Every time I take firewood from Dave’s perfect woodpile to burn in our woodstove, I’ll be doubly warmed, thinking of his kindness and that of other helpers and of the customers who keep our farm going.
We couldn’t do it without you. Thanks.
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.