Carole’s Corner: Appreciation of the farm, the animals

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It is the winter season of holidays and celebrations: Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years. This pandemic year is so different from the others. Family reunions are limited, warm indoor celebrations are prohibited, and cool outdoor activities are the norm. Then Mother Nature dumped over two feet of snow on us. After two days of clean-up, which included getting the 6-ton mini-loader (a sort of small bulldozer) stuck in a snowbank twice, I have time to appreciate the beautiful white blanket that covers the ruts of mud and dark brown landscape. We lost a chain in a snowbank, but it will reappear in the spring.

I also appreciate all the encouragement you, my readers, have shared, especially from two women named Karen. The first Karen and her daughters brought a car full of pumpkins to share with my cattle and told me about her late husband, Kevin, who loved to read on Miles Smith Farm.

Another reader, also named Karen, gave me a Christmas ornament – a figurine of Santa Claus riding a cow. She wished me: “Happy Holidays and a short winter. Amen to that!

Others stopped by the farm, bought meat, said nice things about this column, and shared their childhood experiences on an uncle or grandparent’s farm. I, too, have farm memories – sort of. When I was a child, we visited my grandparents in Hillsborough, NY, a farming community near Albany.

At Christmas, the extended family moved into their home, which was a converted barn. One of the bathrooms was once a stall for a horse named Daisy. My favorite room was a little alcove next to one of the bedrooms. The corner had a window and space for a single bed and no other furniture. I would spend hours in the warmth of bed reading the Lord of the Rings or some other masterpiece, sometimes looking out the window at the neighbor’s cows grazing across the road. Even then the countryside was my happy place.

Some of you lived on a farm some didn’t, but I bet most of you have pets. Pets are a way for many of us to connect with our “farmer selves”. Raising a dog and raising a cow have similarities. For example, a dog needs to express its “dog” just as a cow needs to express its “cow”.

Dogs are descended from prey animals that have spent hours hunting for food. According to Cesar “The Dog Whisperer” Millan, this is why they need twice a day walks with their “pack” (you), followed by a meal – just like a dog would at the end of a hunt. successful. No matter how tired we are at the end of the day, a dog’s need for an outing should be honored. I thought it was just for hygienic reasons.

Cattle also have a special need – for the company of other cattle. And with that camaraderie comes a hierarchy. A cow, or sometimes a steer, controls the herd, but there is always a leader. In the wild, she or he would be responsible for finding food and water. Thanks to the farmer, food and water are easy to find, but the herd remains deferential, leaving the chief to eat and drink first.

Whether you own a dog or a steer, you and I are both involved in the care and feeding of livestock. So your connection to agriculture may be stronger than you think. (Now cats are something else; they think we are their cattle.)

Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm, milessmithfarm.com, where she raises and sells beef, pork, lamb, eggs and other local products. She can be reached at [email protected]


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