Farming through experience and education

CN-MR-3-Harris3103by Sally Colby

Jake Harris knew he wanted to farm, but he also knew that going to college would be an important part of his career planning.

Harris is a recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire (UNH), where he studied agriculture. “They have a nice program as far as dairy, horticulture and general agriculture,” he said. “The Thompson School of Applied Science has a hands-on program, so I could take a wide variety of classes in my major, which is integrated agriculture management. I could combine courses to have the kind of experience I wanted.”

Integrated Agricultural Management is a new field of study at UNH, and Harris is in the second graduating class of that major. The major addresses the diverse nature of New England farms, and is ideal for those who want to get into agriculture but don’t have a specific goal in mind. [Read more…]

The Fjord horses of Norway

CN-MS-2-FjordHorseby Bill and Mary Weaver

Fjord horses, originally from the mountains of western Norway, were the horses of choice for the Vikings. They are a sturdy and versatile breed.

Gina DeSantis of Let’s Dance Dressage showed two Fjord horses at Ag Progress Days as part of “The Equestrian Experience”: Gunter, her gelding, and Lily, her mare. “We bred them, and I raised them both from birth,” DeSantis explained. “Lily is Gunter’s aunt. She came from Gunter’s grandmother, who was imported from Norway.

“Lily’s father was a more refined type of Fjord. There’s a big difference between Lily and Gunter in bone structure. Gunter was a feisty colt, so he got gelded.” [Read more…]

Dangerous manure moves to a higher level

C4-MR-3-MANUREDEMO1by Steve Wagner

“If you drop your monkey wrench, you could bend down to pick it up, and be in a dangerous place.” With that statement, Rob Meinen, senior extension associate at Penn State’s Department of Animal Science, essentially described the tone of the seminar this day at Pleasant View Dairy Farms LLC in Pine Grove, PA. Looking at a soon-to-be-filled lagoon surrounded by cyclone fencing, he further cautioned heightened awareness to match an increasing threat. “We need to be aware that an outdoor storage like this should be considered a confined space. Confined spaces are not designed for normal worker occupancy.” [Read more…]

Moldy hay holds multiple hazards for horses

by Bill and Mary Weaver

Dr. Robert Van Saun, a Penn State University Extension veterinarian and professor, was called to a farm to investigate why the horses became colicky after eating. The hay in their diet appeared to be quality orchard grass hay. Van Saun’s suspicions were aroused, however, when he noticed a musty smell. An analysis showed that the hay contained over 25 percent moisture — a dead giveaway to the problem.

“To prevent mold growth,” Van Saun explained, “hay must be dried to below 15 percent moisture. Thirteen percent is safer.” He took a mold culture, and found more than a million colony forming units (CFUs) per gram of penicillium mold — a potential mycotoxin-producing mold — on the hay. [Read more…]

The 146th Annual Cummington Fair

CN-MR-2-Cummington027by Laura Rodley

Farmers and residents prepared all year long for the 146th Annual Cummington Fair, grooming their animals and growing their vegetables and flowers for a chance to bask in the limelight. Last year, 34,000 people attended the fair in Cummington, MA, viewing the best of the best and partaking of usually forbidden fair food delights — such as French fries and fried dough — while watching magicians, riding on the Ferris Wheel or observing the oxen and horse pull. [Read more…]