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Calves Are Freshmen at Miles Smith Academy

June 13, 2022

Carole Soule is teaching Daffodil and Harmony, two Miles Smith Farm Scottish Highlander calves, to respond to voice commands. Harmony seems to be sharing a few pointers as well. A life-long teacher, Carole finds that some bovines learn faster than humans.

In March, Kevin Cole from Pittsfield called because he was selling his herd of Scottish Highlanders to make room for more Belted Galloways. He asked, "Do you want to buy them?" Did I need 24 more bovines?

This spring, my herd was down to 23, the perfect size. Why would I want more cattle? I can't resist a bargain, whether it's a clearance sale at JCPenney or a discounted herd of cattle. And because Kevin lives nearby, picking them up would be convenient. 

My answer: "Why not?"

There are three reasons to buy cattle in the spring: grass, grass, and more grass. Instead of eating expensive hay, the cattle can feast on lush, green grass. And then there are the calves.

When the Cows Come Home

Who doesn't want to see furry little calves chasing each other in a calf game of tag? Besides, I had raised some of the cattle in Kevin's herd and was glad to welcome them back to Miles Smith Farm.

Nina, a silver Scottish Highlander cow, born on the farm in 2015, had been sold to a Belmont farm before Kevin bought her. Nora and Mable had been mine before I sold them to Kevin last year when hay was scarce, and now each had a 6-month-old heifer calf. It's always good to see old friends and their calves, especially when there is lots of grass to feed them.

Most of Kevin's herd was not people-socialized, so after buying them, I attempted to halter train each cow. Cattle are smart, and most will accept the pressure of the rope and calm down, but some never give up fighting. While doable, halter breaking a reluctant thousand-pound cow is not as easy as training a 200-pound calf, but I love the challenge of adding value through teaching while trying not to get killed.

Who Needs Jewelry

I aim to keep some cows for breeding and sell the friendliest ones as "backyard critters." Amiable Nora and Mable now live on a beautiful farm in Virginia, and I'm training their daughters, Daffodil and Harmony, to respond to voice commands. Soon those two will be better-trained than most dogs. Did I say I love teaching cattle?

Some women love to buy jewelry, and others love buying clothes. My weakness is buying cattle. I wonder how husband Bruce will react when I tell him I just bought 11 more?

Carole Soule

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