By Carla Charter
WOODSTOCK, VT.- A calf, named Huck escapes, while he and his brother Finn, are being moved to a new home. A search ensues with the farmers, local police and hikers all involved. After climbing a mountain Huck finds his way back to the farm when he hears the other cows there. It sounds like the basis of a great children’s book. Now it is. Huck’s Way Home, written and illustrated by Kristina Rodanas
Both Huck and Finn are now full-grown American Milking Devons who reside at Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock. American Milking Devons are a rare breed and were the oxen which were used to clear fields in Colonial America. They were historically used as draft animals, Rodanas said.
Rodanas decided to make Huck’s story the subject of her latest picture book after reading about his adventures in the newspaper. “I was in Woodstock and read about a little calf running through Woodstock. The police department and farm manager were chasing him. Huck went up Mt. Tom, hikers saw him there,” she said.
After dark the search was suspended. People were worried about Huck as he was a weanling and there were predators such as bears on the mountain. The next morning Huck had returned by himself to the farm. “It was miraculous that he found his way back to Billings Farm. Huck must have heard the heifers at the bottom of the mountain,” Rodanas said.
The places Huck stops at in the book are true, she continued. “There is a star that is lit on top of the top of Mount Tom from early November to April. He found his way to the star. In the story he is sleeping under the star. He visited a lake and a cemetery, which are also in the book,” she said.
A map of Huck’s route is also included in the book. “It’s great for people visiting the area, they can follow the actual route that Huck took. They can actually visit the places he visited” she said.
These days Huck and Finn are being trained to the yoke and learning to pull weights. They will be used as part of a demonstration of farming work in Colonial America. Other animals on the farm include two teams of Belgian Horses Sheep, lambs, goats and award-winning Jersey cows.
“Huck’s Way Home has sold incredibly well. It was the 2018 #1 best seller at Woodstock’s Yankee Bookstore,” Rodanas said, adding she is currently working on an alphabet book for Billings Farms as well. Those who would like to learn more about the farm or purchase a copy of Huck’s Way Home, can visit the farm website at www.billingsfarm.org.