Farm animals are not tuned in to the sacred aspects of Christmas, but they do enjoy parties – like the upcoming 2022 Christmas on the Farm celebration. Santa is taking a break this year, so Rudolph the Red-Nosed Rein-Steer (a.k.a. Topper) will be joined by Mrs. Santa.
At this fun event, for the price of a carrot Curious Bleu, the riding steer, will once again let kids climb on his back and pose for photos. Eleanor the donkey, two sheep, and the goats will follow you around the barnyard begging for alfalfa cubes. Millie the calf, looking for snuggles, will greet you, and, of course, Tazzy the mini-pig will grunt and complain until she gets a belly rub. We might even have some newborn calves joining the party.
We recently brought the Topper and his buddies home from the St. Paul’s School pasture on Silk Farm Road, next to the NH Audubon Society building. Since Oct. 18, this herd of four steers and one cow has been munching on late-fall grass and the occasional pumpkin. I chose them for this grazing assignment because they are all overweight. The extra weight strains their joints and can lead to arthritis, so these fatties are on a diet of grass, no hay, and the occasional pumpkin or squash. Pumpkins are like candy for cattle, but they also are natural dewormers.
We keep the Foundation cattle at Miles Smith Farm, where they have underground pipes to keep the water that fills the drinking troughs from freezing and electricity for water heaters to keep above-ground water liquid. St. Paul’s pasture has no electricity or underground water delivery system, so the cattle had to come home to stay hydrated.
While they were at St. Paul’s pasture we checked on them regularly, but it’s good to hear from hikers who enjoy the trails that border the pasture. Denise Vaillancourt sent an email warning me hunters were seen in the area. (Over the years, cows, including one of mine, have been mistaken for deer and shot. If you ever see any of my livestock with C O W painted on their sides, that’s why.) Denise also told me that she found a sugar pumpkin on the ground and smashed it for my herd.
One of them “liked it so much he shadowed me along the fence for a while, hoping I had more. Unfortunately, I only found the one. I love your Highlanders. They’re such sweethearts,” Denise wrote.
You can visit those sweethearts — Topper and his buddies — on Saturday, Dec. 17, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Christmas at the Farm hosted by the nonprofit Learning Networks Foundation. We’ll have the fire pits roaring to help keep your feet and fingers warm, and carrots and alfalfa cubes to feed the critters.