Get your goose

CN-TS-GOZZARD GOOSE_1320by Tamara Scully

While many folks think “turkey” when planning a holiday feast, roast goose is a tradition for others. At Gozzard City, Wesley Bascom and Suzanne Podhaizer raise several hundred geese on pastures in the rolling hills of Cabot, VT.

Geese are larger, more curious and need more bedding and water than chickens. Processing the birds, as well as marketing them, is more complex and the initial investment in day-old goslings costs quite a bit more.

Day-old goslings are purchased from Metzer Farms. Birds arrive in May and are about $10 per bird, which is 10 times the cost of chicken poults. Gozzard City has successful raised 300 pastured geese this season and moving 300 geese at a time is not a chore for just one person. The geese are divided into four flocks, ranging from 65-100 birds each. “Geese go through so much more bedding due to their ability to drink so much and their desire to play with water,” Bascom says. “Geese are also much more curious and willing to experiment — or tinker — with things. They’ll go after any stray bits of electrical wire. If the fence is off, they’ll find out within the day and wreck havoc on the netting.” [Read more…]

Cultivating forest land for non-timber products

CEW-MR-3-Cultivating forest3by Tamara Scully

Forest plants, native to the eastern United States, are in demand both domestically and internationally. While often wild-harvested, these medicinal plants can be readily cultivated in their natural environment. Whether it’s black cohash, goldenseal, or American ginseng, the potential for increasing forest cultivation of these crops is enormous.

“We’re talking about crops that have very exacting locations where they will grow,” Eric Burkhart, Program Director, Plant Science, at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, Penn State University, said. “The way to approach it is to get to know your forest land. Don’t fight it. Work with that ecosystem.” [Read more…]

A long way in a short time

CEW-MR-1-Along way9050by Sally Colby

Those who raised beef cattle in the early 1900s were often on their own when it came to diagnosing and treating sick cattle. Many stockmen relied on recipes for concoctions passed down from generation to generation. But savvy stockmen sought more up-to-date resources. One widely-used resource was The Practical Stock Doctor, first published in 1904 by professor of veterinary medicine Dr. George Waterman of Michigan State Agricultural College. This book was written as a guide for farmers and ranchers who were interested in learning more about livestock diseases and how to recognize and treat those diseases on their own. [Read more…]

Farm energy efficiency

by Sanne Kure-Jensen

Farm inputs can include energy in the form of fuels, electricity and fertilizers. Crop and livestock production uses energy in many forms. Energy heats water for washing equipment and harvested crops, and powers lighting for production and handling areas. Livestock and produce producers use energy for heating, ventilation and refrigeration. Transportation uses more energy to move inputs to farms as well as moving produce and livestock from farms to processors, markets and consumers. Sustainable, viable farms maximize energy efficiency and minimize costs for all aspects of production.

The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) oversees programs that help farmers and producers conserve energy through a variety of on-farm energy upgrades for existing buildings. Kip Pheil, C.E.M., Acting Leader of the USDA NRCS National Energy Technology Development Team and Stephen Henry, P.E., NRCS South Carolina Assistant State Conservation Engineer described NRCS programs and shared their expertise in a webinar called “Key NRCS Energy Practices: Farmstead Energy, Lighting, and Building Envelope.” [Read more…]