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Pittsfield NH News

January 2, 2019

The Suncook Valley Sun News Archive is Maintained by Modern Concepts. We are NOT affliated in any way with the Suncook Valley Sun Newspaper.


Oxen Should Be Beefy, But Not Porky

Submitted By Carole Soule

Pittsfield TopperStash2.jpg

Author Carole Soule with Stash (left) and Topper (right) at a 2017 event at Canterbury Shaker Village.


“When is that cow going to give birth?” asked dairyman Bob as he pointed to my black Scottish Highlander. “Uh, probably never,” I replied, disconcerted. “Stash is a boy. I guess he needs to go on a diet,” I added, looking at Stash's bulging belly.


Stash, a 6-year-old steer, is an “easy keeper,” which means he doesn't need a lot of food to gain weight. He is fat. Very fat. Obese really. Some lucky humans can eat candy, ice cream and pie with impunity, while others can gain weight at the salad bar. Stash is like one of the latter. He seems to gain weight by just breathing air, while other bovines struggle to keep the pounds on – especially cows with nursing babies. 


Mom might look gaunt, but her calf will be chunky. That's because her energy goes into producing milk for the baby. When that rich diet of mother's milk brings the calf's weight 400 to 500 pounds, the calf is weaned, and the mother's own weight will come back. 


A skinny calf usually stays slight as he grows; a fat baby grows up to be a fat bovine. Conventionally raised beef cattle are fed grain to plump them up. But cows' stomachs aren't built to process lots of grain. It's not always good for them so Miles Smith Farm cattle only eat grass and hay, as well as apples, carrots, pineapple, pumpkins, cantaloupe rinds, and other fruit and vegetable scraps kindly provided by Shaw's in Gilford, or Grappone Conference Center in Concord. 


Stash started life as an average-size calf and grew up to be one of a pair of oxen that competes at county fairs, dragging loads upon command. Cattle are heavy, but at 1,400 pounds Stash is too hefty by about 150 pounds. And just like an obese person, he has to work hard to carry those extra pounds. That kind of weight causes fatigue and puts stress on a creature's joints and heart.  


Among beef-cattle farmers, the notion of a steer that's overweight is like a joke that's too funny. For obvious reasons, beef farmers celebrate meatiness. (Two years in a row Topper and Stash have won the Best Fat Cattle Championship at the Hopkinton State Fair with trophies displayed in our farm store.) Steers are generally bound for the dinner table, but working oxen like Stash and Topper are really more like athletes.


So when time permits, we'll fortify the farm's internal fences so we can sequester Stash and control his access to food. When summer rolls around, visitors will be admiring his powerful physique instead of wondering when Stash Jr. is due.



Letter To The Editor


Each year since 1993, the President declares January 16 to be “Religious Freedom Day,” and calls upon Americans to “observe this day through appropriate events and activities in homes, schools, and places of worship.” It commemorates the anniversary of the 1786 passage of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom penned by Thomas Jefferson. The drafters of the US Constitution leaned heavily on Jefferson's Statute in establishing the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom. Today that protection is as important as ever. 


In too many instances, uninformed public school teachers tell students they cannot include their faith in their homework or classroom discussions. The US Dept. of Education has issued guidelines explaining students' religious liberties making an administrator's job easier because it clarifies that schools need not be “religion free zones.” Freedom of speech can take different forms.  It includes what you say to other people as well as to God in prayer; it includes what you write in school assignments or create in art class; it includes the words you give to a friend either by speaking or in writing.


The message students need to hear is that they shouldn't feel like they have to be “undercover” about their religion.  Religious Freedom Day is an opportunity for a civics lesson regarding Americans' freedom to express and live out their faith.  


In commemorating this day, schools could have an assembly or ask teachers to recognize it in classrooms. Sample activities:


• Read the Presidential Proclamation-

PMHS read the annual Thanksgiving Day proclamation once during morning announcements.


• Have students write a paper on “What religious freedom means to me.”


• Distribute copies of the USDOE's guidelines on students' religious liberties.


• Talk about countries where religious freedom is not allowed under penalty of imprisonment/death-


Lea Adams



Josiah Carpenter Library January News


As part of Winter Fest parents and children are invited to a Pajama Story Hour at the library on Sunday January 20th at 6:30pm.  The pajama time will last about one hour; come to enjoy stories, a craft and simple refreshment.


Story Hour for babies, preschoolers, families and caregivers meets on Thursday at 10:00am will be having fun exploring winter and transportation.  The Adventures Club (kindergarten thru 3rd grade) that meets on Tuesday at 3:30pm, Creating Adventures (3rd thru 6th grade)  that meets Wednesday afternoons at 2:00pm will also explore winter, then take on some Lego design challenges.


The Book Worms will gather at 6:30pm on Tuesday January 8th to discuss The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee.    The Pittsfield Writer’s Circle will meet at 6:30pm on Tuesday January 22nd, bring your latest work to share and hone with this dedicated group of writers.   The adult book club will meet at 10:30 am on Tuesday January 22nd at the Pittsfield Senior Center to discuss The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui; which is described as “a book to break your heart and heal it.”  Anyone who would like to join the book discussions can pick up the books at the library, come and enjoy some spirited conversation. 


The next gathering of the Chichester-Epsom-Pittsfield Libraries Memory Café will be held at 2:00pm on Monday January 14th at the Epsom Public Library.  George Robbins will be present to share the joys of bird-watching.  Local caregivers and folks living with memory loss are invited to come and relax in a supportive environment, refreshments will be served.








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