From the Farm: Summer Camp Fun

Abby the sheep and June the heifer waited calmly beside their human teammates at the start line. At the signal, they set off for a relay race. June’s team, the Highland Campers, had challenged Abby’s team, the Sheep Wranglers, to a relay race. With an animal behind, each team had to dash around the posts, negotiate a tight turn and step over a bar on the ground. It was a relay race, farm style. The first run was tight. June lost by inches. It was all part of the fun of day camp at Miles Smith Farm.

This fall 2021 morning, campers learned to drive a goat, donkey, sheep and heifer, but not a pig. Tazzy the mini-pig, in her own Miss Piggy way, wanted nothing to do with the campers that day. After training, the animals rested while the campers picked vegetables in one of the pastures. Some of the seeds from the vegetables we fed the cattle that spring made their way through the rich pasture soil and produced giant pumpkins, squash and even tomatillos. The children filled bags with fresh vegetables and squash to take home.

Then came the relay race. The eight campers split into two groups and voted for the animal they wanted to race in the race. June and Abby were the favorites and did well in the first run. Abby decided she had had enough of round two and lay down on the floor in protest. She wouldn’t move. She was finished. The campers respected her reluctance and enlisted a more willing goat to replace her.

Now that spring has arrived, it’s probably time to figure out what the kids will be doing after school is over. Fifty years ago, mum and dad sent the children to spend a week on their grandparents’ farm. They knew that exposure to the land, the animals and the food produced gave the children a week to remember.

Here is an idea. This year, Miles Smith Farm is hosting two five-day farm camp sessions that will feature the comforting rituals and daily rhythms of a working farm. Instead of interacting with large or small electronic screens, they’ll work with Eleanor the donkey, Abby the sheep, June the heifer, Curious Blue the steer, Snap the horse, and maybe even Tazzy the whimsical pig. We will even have calves to cuddle.

The camp is offered by the Learning Networks Foundation, which is the non-profit arm of Miles Smith Farm. For dates and prices, see this link: learningnetworksfoundation.com/cuddle-a-cow/summer-camp/. And here’s a hint for potential campers; don’t choose Abby for the relay race.

Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm (milessmithfarm.com) in Loudon, NH. She raises and sells beef, pork, lamb, eggs and other local produce. She can be contacted at cas@milessmithfarm.com. Carole’s Corner is a column about farming and farming. It airs weekly in the Sunday Your Life section. The author is co-owner of a local farm and is not a staff member of Le Moniteur.

Edward N. Arrington