The Four-Legged Friends Behind the Co-op’s Products: The Dogs and Cats of Manning Hill Farm

Originally published in Four Legs & A Tail

I love shining a light on all the farmers and producers who provide a bounty of local food and locally made products to our community. In this article, however, I move the spotlight over and down, from the business person to their four-legged friends — the working dogs, cats, and other animals who also make these local products possible.

From the grass grown on Manning Hill Farm’s pastures to the milk that they deliver in glass bottles, Sarah Costa and Sam Canonica are in charge of every step of the process that brings their milk from the farm to you. In charge, that is, with a little help from their four-legged friends, dogs Blue and Luna, and cats Oscar and Lilly. Sarah and Sam, first-generation farmers, began Manning Hill Farm in 2010 on 126-acres in Winchester, NH.

Blue (seven-year-old) and Luna (one-year-old) are Great Danes from the Great Dane Rescue of New England in Rhode Island. Why Great Danes? “I always wanted one,” shared Sarah – and now she has two!

A note about Great Danes from the American Kennel Club, “No one is quite sure how or why Great Danes, a German breed, came to be associated with Denmark. (In Germany they’re known as the Deutsche Dog, or ‘German dog.’) We do know that once upon a time German nobles used Danes to hunt ferocious wild boars. Later, Danes became famous as protectors of their home and loved ones, a job they are still happy to perform.”

While Great Danes tend to protect people over livestock, Blue and Luna show care for the cows and chickens at Manning Hill Farm, too. “They love doing the chores with us, especially the chicken chores,” Sarah adds. “They come in the pens and herd any loose chickens. Luna loves the cows, rolling in the hay, and bringing in the cows from pasture to barn.”

The dogs also spend time walking the perimeter of the farm and leaving scent marks to warn off any coyote or bobcats.

Just like most Great Danes, they love being couch potatoes. “They’re not early risers,” Sarah admits. “They prefer the evening shift of chores.”

Regardless of the hour, when farm store visitors arrive, Blue and Luna use their substantial bark to alert Sarah and Sam. Who needs a shop bell at Manning Hill Farm Store when you have Luna and Blue?

It’s not just the dogs who will come out to greet visitors. Oscar, their 10-year-old domestic long-haired cat, will also join in on the greetings.

“If you come to the farm, Oscar, our resident farm cat, will surely greet you by rubbing up against you, climbing up your leg, or bringing you one of his daily kills.”

Sarah adds, “Oscar thinks he’s a dog. He’s very friendly and likes to go on walks around the fields with us.”

Their other cat, Lilly (eleven-year-old), chooses to stick to the barn.  “Our cats are great mousers.”

Her four-legged farmhands are excellent companions, too. “They’re always there — keeping us laughing in a stressful job,” said Sarah.

Learn more about Manning Hill Farm at Also, be sure to pick up a bottle of their milk the next time you shop at the co-op. Their farm store carries milk, beef, pork, chicken, eggs, maple syrup and honey.

Know of a farm animal I should highlight in a future article? I’d love to hear from you! Please email me at [email protected].