From The Farm - Animal Relationships
Submitted By Carole Soule
Steven Morehouse and Farmer Carole tend to Ben and Snuff, a pair
of Scottish Highlander working steers.
Eleanor watches over her two sheep buddies, Faith and Joy, at
the Brookside Congregational Church living nativity at Stark
Park in Manchester.
two sheep, Faith and Joy would not leave the trailer. They
huddled behind Eleanor, the Sicilian donkey, who had placed her
body between me and them. If I walked around Eleanor, the sheep
ducked under her head to Eleanor’s other side. Always just out
of reach. The three were working together to keep me away.
had just returned from a “Living Nativity” event produced by the
Brookside Congregational Church and Friends of Stark Park in
Manchester. The oxen, two white Scottish Highlander working
steers, Ben and Snuff, were from my farm, Miles Smith Farm. I
had borrowed, Eleanor, the donkey and the sheep from a farmer in
During the event, Mary and Joseph stayed in the manger watching
over baby Jesus while Eleanor, her sheep gang, and the shepherds
watched. I stood near the manger, dressed in period custom as
Jewish farmer, with Ben and Snuff while the Church pastor, Rev.
Eric Jackson, narrated the story of Jesus’s birth over a
loudspeaker at Stark Park. Eleanor and her sheep were just a bit
jumpy and my Highlanders, totally dressed for the freezing
weather in their heavy coats, mooed just once during the
don’t understand the bond Eleanor and the two sheep had, but it
was strong. After the event I could not lead the sheep out of
the trailer; they wanted to stay with the donkey, Eleanor. Only
when I untied Eleanor and lead her out would the sheep
cooperate. They followed the donkey right into the pasture and
ran off into their shed together.
only do sheep and donkeys bond but cattle develop friendships as
well. I’ve seen cows that have been separated for a few months
run mooing to each other when reunited. I also have seen cows
that hate each other. I cannot keep Clemy and Laverne, two
Highland cows, in the same pasture. Clemy will chase Laverne
through the fence if I put them together. I don’t know what
Laverne does to irritate Clemy but I have to keep them in
separate pastures to keep the peace.
Farm animals develop relationships just like people. Some
relationships are positive, some are not but, as a farmer, it
makes sense to pay attention. It was easy to get Eleanor and her
sheep to do what I wanted once I figured out they wanted to stay
together. While a “time out” might not work for a thousand pound
cow; figuring out what the cow is saying is what makes farming
interesting. You don’t have to be a “cow whisperer” to keep
peace on the farm but it helps to listen to your cows and
donkeys and sheep.
Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm, in Loudon, NH,
where she raises and sells beef, pork, lamb, eggs and other
local products. She can be reached at