Carole Soule: Heaven-on-Earth for animal lovers

By CAROLE SOULE

For the Monitor

Published: 07-15-2023 2:00 PM

The kids stowed their backpacks, ran into the barnyard, and waited anxiously to learn which calf would be theirs for the week. Would it be Peaches, a sweet white Scottish Highland calf, or Claudette, a fuzzy Belted Galloway heifer, who looked like an Oreo cookie? Who would get Jerome, a reluctant brown and white steer, or Scooter, a friendly Highland calf?

Fourteen kids (ages 8-15) had signed up for a week of calf snuggling, horse riding, and stall cleaning at Farm Camp at Miles Smith Farm. All of them were there because they love animals, and there were a lot of animals for them to love – bunnies to hold, goats to feed, and horses to brush, but the main attraction was the calves.

Fourteen-year-old Rose, one of last year’s campers, is back. She said, “I like working with cows so much that I’m coming to camp for two sessions this year. I want to be a veterinary surgeon who helps animals.”

Camper Molly added, “I love cows. I love the farm and missed Rose, whom I met here last year.”

Cameron, assigned a calf named Mr. Devon, came to the camp because he wanted to be with cows and horses and told me, “I love Devon. He’s the best cow in the universe. He’s nice to me.”

The fourteen campers got as wet as their calves when they scrubbed and hosed them in the “cow wash” to get them looking their best for the Cow Show on Friday.

After a week of scooping you-know-what, brushing, and training the calves to walk on a lead rope, the kids show off their clean, fluffy calves in a judged show. Parents and friends will watch the kids walk around the temporary ring, answer questions about their calves, and demonstrate what they learned.

At this writing, the end-of-week show hasn’t happened yet. But if last year is any indicator after the judging, chaos and laughter will reign during the animal relay race as three teams coax and prod mini-pig Tazzy, goats Dixie and Trixie, and donkey Eleanor around an obstacle course. Each team will navigate its animal around cones, cross a little bridge, and race for the finish line. Tazzy can be counted on to grunt a lot (as pigs do) and do her best to keep up.

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Shyness was left at the sign-in table on Day One as the kids forgot their nervousness and began learning to “de-kick” their calves, reward them for good behavior, and get them to look their best—an exercise in building self-confidence.

Do you know a child who loves animals and doesn’t mind getting dirty? We still have Farm Day Camp sessions openings from July 24 to Aug. 4. Sign up at: https://www.learningnetworksfoundation.com/summer-camp/. Scholarships are available.

Carole Soule’s book, “Yes, I Name Them,” will be available in September. She is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm (www.milessmithfarm.com) in Loudon, N.H., where she raises beef and shares the joys of her farm with kids and adults. She can be reached at carole@soulecoaching.com.

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