From the farm: Summer is the time for cow shopping

Published: 06-22-2024 8:00 AM

Summer is a morning symphony of chirping birds, pink sunrises, sandals on the beach, and warm sunsets. It’s a magical time filled with baby birds learning to fly and green beans sprouting in the garden. And it’s an excellent time to go shopping, cow shopping. I’m fascinated with buying cattle. I’ll scan Craigslist for calves or cows. I’m obsessed.

Sometimes, people seek me out. One guy from Gilmanton called me about his Highland bull. The cows were not interested in the bull’s romantic advances, so the bull found a weak spot in the fence and took off looking for a girlfriend heifer. With help from a neighbor, the owner captured the bull and got him home. But I already had a nice, gentle bull named Gus.

Years ago, I walked through one of our fields with a state Department of Agriculture employee. The fact that a dozen cows were in the pasture didn’t bother her, but once she noticed the bull, she did a quick two-step to put me between herself and the bull.

All unknown cattle should be regarded with caution. But in my experience, bulls are no more dangerous than cows, and neither sex is all that dangerous. It’s been estimated that about 20 to 22 people are killed by cows and bulls in the United States each year, and the animals are about 50-50 cows and bulls.

Here are some of the deaths in the U.S. caused each year by other creatures: about 30-50 people die from dog bites, and mosquito bites cause about 80 deaths. So, some of the smallest insects are a far greater threat than cattle.

Many of the cattle I get are scruffy-looking things that have never felt a human hand. So, all my cattle go through my “training course.” If they pass, I’ll sell them as backyard pets. Folks in Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and California buy my tame cows, calves, and steers.

If my cattle don’t pass the friendliness test, I’ll keep the cows for breeding and the steers for the beef program.

Which reminds me of those two crazy cows I bought who jumped every fence and wanted nothing to do with “tame.” I can’t keep fence jumpers on my farm (literally), so guess where those two were sent. The butcher didn’t even like them.

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Nowadays, I have an extremely friendly herd of about 35 cattle, including the nine calves I bought for Cow Camp, a week-long day camp for children ages 8 to 14. Even though I have plenty of cattle now, I’ll still shop for more. It’s my nature, and training them is my idea of fun.

Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm (www.milessmithfarm.com), where she raises and sells beef, pork, eggs, and other local products. She can be reached at carole@soulecoaching.com. Carole is also now a certified Life Coach who helps humans achieve the impossible a little at a time.