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A Blown Engine With Cattle Aboard

October 31, 2022

When our truck broke down on Rt.4 in Northwood, a tow truck pulled the truck and loaded trailer to Miles Smith Farm then delivered the truck to Glenn's Truck Service in Belmont.

First was the explosion, then husband Bruce yelled, "Pull over!" With nowhere to pull over as smoke poured from the Ford F450 pickup and plumed up behind the stock trailer, I stopped on the highway, turned off the engine, pulled the hood release, and reached for the fire extinguisher. Bruce leaped from the cab to check under the hood.

Earlier that day, we had picked up three head of cattle in Freeport, Maine. Salty, moist air filled my lungs as we set up the trailer to load three fat Scottish Highlanders. The cattle owner, Mary, who lives next to the Wolf Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment, was able to coax the bull into the trailer, but the two cows were more reluctant to leave their pasture. I don't blame them; the Wolf Neck peninsula features spectacular farmland and ocean views.

With the help of a halter and lead rope, we convinced the young cow named MacKenzie to climb in the trailer, but the older cow, Helen of Troy, did not want to join her friends. With Bruce pulling a rope around her horns, helper Grace and me pushing, and Mary holding the trailer door open, we finally convinced Helen to heave her 1,200 pounds into the trailer.

Then we sought the Wolf Neck's Center snack bar for lunch. We drove the rig, cattle and all, onto the campus, where we met Thomas Prohl, who manages the organic dairy on the property. His team occasionally helps Mary with her Highlanders. We talked "cow" a bit with Tom, then headed home.

It was in Northwood, on the only section of the highway with two eastbound lanes, where the truck engine blew up. The truck was parked on the road; fortunately, traffic could use the passing lane to get by. What would we have done if it had caught fire? If I wanted to save the cows, I'd have to let them loose...on Route 4...during rush hour. It didn't come to that, but I did have to figure out how to get the rig home. Would we have to unhook the trailer and get another truck to haul the cows? Would that be possible with traffic whizzing by in the other lanes?

Finding a Tow Truck

The magic of the internet saved the day. After I called 911, I found just the right tow service in nearby Concord. The dispatcher said he'd send a rig that could tow the truck with the loaded trailer attached. When he arrived 45 minutes later, David, the driver, attached his lift to our disabled truck, disconnected our truck's drive-shaft, then, with truck and trailer with cattle, we were on our way home.

Half an hour later, David dropped the loaded trailer at the farm, and Bruce used our tractor to back the trailer up to the holding pen and unload the cattle. David then left the truck at Glen's Truck Service in Belmont. 

Hostess Paula Cabot, organizes the corn at the 2022 corn husking and a Contra Dance at Sanborn Mills.

The cattle settled in, but we needed a break after this drama, so the next day I went to a corn husking and contra dance at Sanborn Mill Farm. The farm's mission to teach traditional crafts and farming methods was fulfilled that night. Rather than use machinery to do the work, the farm hosted over 100 neighbors and friends in the barn to grab ears from the pile and husk them.

After husking, the naked ears were carried outside in baskets and dumped in the corn crib, a ventilated building with a roof, to keep off rain and allow airflow for further drying. Eventually, the corn can be fed whole to the pigs and ground into feed for the farm's chickens.

Food and Contra Dance

Next on the program was a table loaded with delicious food and then a contra dance. With the sweet smell of hay bales stacked in the lofts overhead, Peter Winne, Lars Prillaman and friends filled the barn with the lilting sound of country music. Couples faced each other in the narrow barn aisle while Peter called the steps. After a small glass of chocolate raspberry port, I flung the image of a broken truck aside as I do-si-do'd with my partner up and down the barn aisle. Many thanks go to Paula and Colin Cabot and Steve and Betty Fifield for creating this joyous event.

Pumpkin Smashing

The Sanborn Mills corn is in the crib, my new cattle are in their pasture, and the truck is at the shop, so now I can focus on pumpkins! We have a load of them for visitors to smash for my cattle. We provide the mallet for you to split pumpkins and squash into manageable chunks for the herd. Stop by Miles Smith Farm Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for low-tech fun.

Miles Smith Farm

Wed-Sat from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

56 Whitehouse Rd.

Loudon, NH 03307

603 783 5159

Carole Soule

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