In the mid-1800s Miles Smith, a mason and farmer, cleared his land, built a house, raised a family, erected time-honored stone walls and pastured pigs, goats and dairy cattle. Today as an enduring reminder of that redoubtable heritage Miles Smith is buried in a cemetery on the land where he toiled. And while it may seem a tad fanciful, Carole Soule and Bruce Dawson, the current owners will, from time to time, visit the old owner’s grave for reflection and inspiration. In any event, Miles Smith still seems to wield considerable influence.
In 2002 Carole and Bruce brought Scottish Highland cattle to their 36 acre farm in Loudon, NH. After many failed attempts at trying reclaim pasture land with 20th century machinery, the couple turned back the pages. By paying tribute to time-tested methods they enlisted their cattle to till the soil with their hooves and fertilize the soil as well, “The way Miles himself would have used his stock,” says Carole. Today, these large and majestic animals can be seen keeping the hillside clear and their bodies healthy while grazing on lush grass.
It was not long into their farming efforts that Bruce and Carole realized that to be profitable, they needed more than their 36 acres to feed their growing herd of 65 head of cattle.“Years ago,” says Carole, “shared grazing was a common agricultural practice when cattle drives moved livestock from winter pasture to summer fields.”
So once again taking inspiration from the past––and perhaps from Miles Smith, too—they helped owners fence their land and set up watering systems at 10 different pastures, providing Bruce and Carole with access to over 200 acres of mixed farmland around New Hampshire. The cattle are shuttled to the leased fields in what they call their “cow taxi” every few weeks well into December. The cattle help the landowners maintain open space by eating brush, undergrowth and grass in areas that range from forest to lush apple orchards. While they’re at it, the cattle are consuming a healthy diet and are raised free of hormones, chemicals and antibiotics. Shuttling also has a particular advantage: With extra land, Bruce and Carole can extend the grazing season into fall and early winter, saving on the fossil fuels used for harvesting and transporting hay. Before deep winter sets in, Carole and Bruce move the entire herd back home to the farm where the cattle are fed hay silage and await the summer and the regrowth of grass in the fields.
In the forefront of their farming efforts is proper land stewardship and energy conservation, and while they continue to pay reverence to the old ways, Bruce notes that, “High tech methods are part of our background; it’s where we both came from.” Computer software tracks the pasture location of the animals, their forage rations, weight gain and the health of each animal. The couple also has invested heavily in solar power. Their farm store is heated by the sun with a 500 gallon solar hot water heater; refrigeration is powered by a 4.5KW photovoltaic array. “And when you think about it,” adds Carole ”the cattle are solar powered too: they eat grass that’s created by the sun, right?”
Breeding occurs in late June to August for Spring calves. The farm uses the time honored technique of allowing the herds to establish their own bonding. “We simply gather all the cows and heifers we want bred into a field and turn the bull loose,” says Carole. Come spring, when the calves are born, the life cycle begins again.
Highland cattle, because they are a heritage breed, take three years to mature. For those who crave beef that is less lean, the farm is now raising the faster growing Angus cattle. At processing time, Bruce and Carole work only with facilities that employ guidelines created by Temple Grandin, doctor of animal science who is recognized nationally in the humane treatment of animals.
Miles Smith Farm
Bruce Dawson & Carole Soule
56 Whitehouse Road
Loudon, NH 03307
Sun. & Mon. closed
Or by appointment: 603-783-5159
Everett Arena, Concord, NH ( Friday from 10-3pm)
Concord, NH Farmers’ Market, (Sat 8am-noon May-October)
Cole Gardens Winter Farmers Market, Concord NH area ( Saturday 10-2pm December-March) http://www.colegardens.com/winterfarmersmarket
Tilton Winter Farmer’s Market TBA http://tiltonwinterfarmersmarket.com/
Wholesale: (bulk sales to markets, restaurants & stores)
Retail cuts and quantities are available at these locations:
- Canterbury Country Store, 3 Center Road, Canterbury, NH 03224. 603.783.9933
- Chichester Country Store, 257 Main Street, Chichester, NH 03258. 603.798.5081
- Catamount Farm, providing Home Delivery to many southern NH communities. 603.435.7415
- Sherman Market, 22 Union Square, Somerville, MA 02143. 617.666.0179
- Johnson Golden Harvest , Route 3A and Hackett Hill Rd.; Hooksett, NH (Exit 11 off I-93) 603.496.0180
- Johnson’s Marketplace, 69 Old New Hampshire 11; New Durham, NH 603.859.7100 Summer: 11am to 9pm; Winter: Sun-Thu: 11-8, Fri&Sat: 11-9
- Concord Cooperative Market, 24 S. Main Street, Concord, NH 603.225.6840, Open Mon. to Sat. 8am to 8pm, Sun. 10am to 6pm.
- Quality Cash Market, 11 Eastman St., Concord, NH 603.225.9661, Mon to Sat 7am to 7pm; Sunday 8am to 6pm.
- The Healthy Buffalo, 258 Dover Road; Chichester, NH 603-369-3611 Thu & Fri 12 to 6pm, Sat & Sun 10am to 4:30pm.
- Green Meadows Farm 656 Asbury St; Hamilton, MA 978-468-2277. Fri, Sat, Sun 8am to 6pm.
- A-Market Natural Foods: 125 Loring Street, Manchester, NH, 603.668.8445, Open daily 9am to 8pm.
- Coastal Creamery, provides Home Delivery; Rye, NH 603-373-6659 (Previously known as The Little Milkman).
- Concord Beef & Seafood, 79 S. Main St, Concord, NH 603.226.3474
- Natural Choice Market, 270 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett, NH 603.669.6977, Open Mon to Sat 9am to 7:30pm; Sun noon to 5pm.
- Grappone Conference Center in Concord, NH. *
- The Lakes Region Casino in Belmont, NH.
- CityFresh Foods in Boston.
- Johnson’s Steak and Seafood in Northwood NH, New Durham NH, and North Berwick Me.
- The Onion Pub&Restaurant in Tilton, NH
- The Gilmanton Winery in Gilmanton, NH
* certified local by New Hampshire Farm to Restaurant Connection ( http://www.nhfarmtorestaurant.com)
A Simple New Hampshire Beef Stew