Living Acres: Making organic matter

by Tamara Scully
Living Acres, in Sharon, Maine, is all about “making soil more alive,” and providing plants with the optimal nutrients needed to thrive. Living Acres makes organic-approved compost, growing mediums, foliar seaweed and fish emulsion sprays. Their products are made with local, natural inputs — the farthest comes from about 125 miles away — and serve to add fertility and to enhance the health of nursery plants or field crops, via nature’s own ingredients.
They strive to keep ingredients “as local as we can get, without sacrificing quality,” owner Tony Ramsey said.
Begun in 1980 by retired dairy farmer Stu Mayo, the company has since grown from the flagship product: Mayo’s compost mix. His recipe for the compost came from years of experience, and a belief in the positive effects of healthy soil. Instead of incorporating manure directly into the soil, where the microbial population reacts by going on “a feeding frenzy,” Ramsey explained that Mayo knew there was a better way. So he created Living Acres Kompost. [Read more…]

James Brown part of effort to test chickpea production in Virginia

CM-MR-3-James Brown 1by Karl H. Kazaks
CLOVER, VA — James Brown has long been a diversified farmer, growing corn, wheat, beans, and tobacco as well as raising cattle. This year, though, he planted an entirely new crop: chickpeas.
Brown is one of four farmers in Virginia participating in a test project organized by Virginia State University, to determine if chickpeas could be a viable (high-value) commercial crop in the commonwealth. Brown is one of two participants from Halifax County. The other two are from Surry and Greensville Counties. The project is funded in part by Sabra Dipping Company, the country’s largest maker of hummus. (Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus.)
Farmers were selected based on two criteria. They had to be interested in growing a new crop and have available land and equipment to grow the crop (what you would need for growing soybeans, using a different planter plate).
Brown met those criteria and then some, said Cliff Somerville, small farm outreach agent at VSU and one of the main organizers of the chickpea demonstration.
“Mr. Brown has been very successful in the other crops he’s grown,” Somerville said.
Each of the farmers planted four varieties of chickpeas to, Somerville said, “get an idea of which variety responds best to this general area.” [Read more…]

Shoot ‘em up!

CM-HR-MR-3-Shoot em up7183by Sally Colby
It’s the fastest growing equestrian sport in the nation. Contestants in western garb race the clock as they use two .45 caliber single action revolvers with five rounds of specially loaded blanks to shoot at balloons from the back of a horse.
It’s called cowboy mounted shooting, and nearly every horse and rider has the potential to train and compete.
The process of starting a horse in mounted shooting should be slow and steady. Bobby Knight, who trains horses and riders for mounted shooting, says that the first step is evaluating the horse. As Knight worked with a first-time shooter and her mare, he described the process he uses to see how a horse might react to the sudden sound of gunfire.
“I clap my hands — with just that noise alone you can see how a horse is going to react,” said Knight, who was in Pennsylvania recently for a training clinic. “I could see that the horse was pretty comfortable with noise. We worked the mare, then when she was resting, I made a lot of noise so that she’d accept the noise as part of the resting time.” [Read more…]

CNY 2013 Farm Progress Show ~ old friends and new technology

CEW-MR-4-Farm Progress4by Elizabeth A. Tomlin
Folks attending Central New York’s Farm Progress Show have viewed farm improvements and technology updates over nearly 40 years — and this year was no different!
“I believe I have attended the CNY Farm Progress Show for 16 years,” remarked CCE CNY Dairy Specialist Dave Balbian. “Computerization and advances in technology are probably the biggest changes I’ve seen. Nobody was selling Robotic Milkers 16 years ago!”
Balbian is only one of many people who noticed new technology exhibited.
Bigger tractors with better safety features, computerized TMR mixers, waste recycling equipment and more products available for all aspects of agricultural needs were displayed at this year’s event. [Read more…]