Scottish Cattle Attend Highland Games

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Our furry critters would have suffered from blazing sun and high temperatures, but the weather last weekend was perfect: overcast and cool. We were at the Scottish Highland Games 2021 at Loon Mountain with June and Bear, two Scottish Highlander yearlings.

NH Highland Games & Festival, hosted by NHSCOT, included track and field events, piping, a flock of sheep (my favorite), Highland dance competitions, and ‘heavy events’ like tug of war, hammer throw and caber throw. Caber Throw is a traditional Scottish event where competitors throw a 16 to 20 foot tapered pole that weighs 90 to 150 pounds. An important skill that every Scott should have. Why throw a pole? Why not?

What could be more Scottish than Scottish Highlander cattle? This is why the Scottish Highlander Cattle from Miles Smith Farm, also known as the Heelan Coos, were in attendance. Highland cattle are a heirloom breed, bred to withstand the extreme conditions of Scotland, where farmers kept them to produce milk and meat. Also known as the ‘sheepfold’, Queen Elizabeth herds Highland cattle at Balmoral Castle. Our Highlanders were all born in the United States, but the first Highland cattle were brought to the United States in the late 1890s.

Highland cattle have an unusual double coat of hair. On the outside, the oily outer hairs – the longest of any cow breed – cover a fluffy undercoat, making them well suited to the cold and snowy conditions of the Scottish Highlands and New Hampshire.

During my two presentations on the fairground stage, June and Bear, led by teammate Maggie Harrington, demonstrated their skills as a pair of steers. Steers are sterilized males, so technically June is a working heifer. There is no event for mixed doubles at county fair draw competitions, so these two would be disqualified. But that detail made no difference to the Highland Games audience, who embraced gender neutrality in cattle!

Before the invention of tractors, steers and oxen did most of the work on a farm. Farmers used them to transport stones from the fields to build stone walls, carry logs from the woods, and even transport families in a cart to church on Sundays.

Bagpipe bands filled the air throughout the day with upbeat Scottish music. Usually, June and Bear got nervous and nervous during a long event, but they were calm and collected that day. I think the music of their ancestors resonated with them.

I’m not Scottish, but I can tell you what stood out to me: all these men in kilt! While June and Bear posed for selfies and enjoyed being brushed off by their fans, I was distracted by the guys. They have a special allure. They walk more confidently than others, and their knees can be sexy. Do you think they know? So, kilted men, thank you for making me smile.

To end my day, my husband Bruce came home with a kilt.

Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm in Loudon, where she raises and sells beef, pork, lamb, eggs and other local produce.


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