Have you ever had a desire to hug a goat, cuddle a cow or talk to a pig? If so, Saturday, Oct. 12 is your lucky day. From 11 to 3 p.m. farm animals will be looking for your affection – and carrots – at Miles Smith Farm.

It's hard to know what makes farm animals so adorable, but they are. My favorite huggable animals are cows, and here are some of my reasons for loving them:

1. Grass-fed cows help sequester carbon.

2. Cows convert barren soil into lush pasture.

3. Cows produce calves; calves are cute.

Not everyone agrees that cows are good for the environment. One argument is that they drink a lot of water. Think about it. A cow nursing a calf can drink as much as 20 gallons of water a day. Does that water stay in her body, expanding it like a big water balloon? No, the water she drinks is converted into milk for her calf and into liquid fertilizer that she releases onto the soil to grow more grass for her to eat. A cow is a self-contained eating and fertilizing unit.

Despite claims that cows are endangering the planet, grass-fed cows offset the methane their digestion produces. Farmers preserve grassland, and their cattle fertilize the grass plants whose roots can extend as much as 4 feet into the earth. This root system sequesters carbon and fights against climate change. According to JSTOR Daily, "If managed grazing could be amped up worldwide, it could sequester over 16 gigatons of carbon by 2020." https://daily.jstor.org/can-cows-help-mitigate-climate-change-yes-they-can/

So, there is no need to stop eating meat. In fact, by choosing protein produced by smaller grass-fed New Hampshire farms, you will help save the planet.

Not only are cows good for the planet, but they are also good for your soul. It doesn't take much to please a cow. A back scratch or shoulder rub is all it takes to make a cow happy. When I rub Missy, a pregnant Highlander cow, she'll lower her head and close her eyes in contentment.

All it takes for a pig to stretch out on the ground and grunt with joy is a vigorous belly rub. Besides food, pigs love to be scratched. All of our pigs, from 800-pound, Charlotte, to 30-pound mini-pig Tazzy, love belly rubs

The donkey, Eleanor, enjoys ear rubs, and her even her sheep sidekick Abby wanders around the barnyard looking for someone to pet her.

One cow that will be missing is Elspeth, a Highlander heifer who died unexpectedly last spring. But she will be remembered with Elspeth's Place, a teaching barn where youth and adults can learn about handling livestock. It will also be home base for the Highland Riders 4-H Club.

Yes, our bovines and their friends are superheroes worthy of hugs and scratches. You can show your love by joining us to "Cuddle a Cow" on Oct. 12 where all proceeds, including the nominal admission donation, will go to help build Elspeth's Place. Find out more here: https://www.learningnetworksfoundation.com/cuddle-a-cow/.


Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm (www.milessmithfarm.com), where she raises and sells pastured pork, lamb, eggs and grass-fed beef. She can be reached at cas@milessmithfarm.com.

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