A society of Dorpers

CEW-MR-3-Dorper2by Steve Wagner

Where have Dorpers been all our lives? And now that they’re here, what can we do with them?

“Dorpers are a breed of sheep that have been in this country for about 20 years,” according to Doug Gillespie, executive secretary for the American Dorper Sheep Breeders’ Society, “and they are growing by leaps and bounds.” Dorpers are meat sheep originally bred in South Africa. Their most familiar trait is a totally black head on an otherwise white body. The Dorper breed is a successful crossing of Dorset and Persian sheep, using the first three letters of each to coin the name. “You’re seeing a huge Dorper influence in the lamb industry in this country today,” Gillespie continued. “They are extremely fast maturing sheep and they are easy keepers. They don’t have to be sheared because they are what we call a shedding breed. They do grow some fuzz, but they shed it off as the weather warms up, which saves the cost of shearing.” Parenthetically, Gillespie notes that wool is so depressed in the American market that it hardly covers the cost of shearing. And shearers are hard to find. Gillespie also says Dorpers are the future of the sheep business. [Read more…]

Intelligent mastitis management, part two

C4-MR-1-MastitisCon2by Bill and Mary Weaver

A previous edition of Country Folks provided information from a seminar given by Dr. Ernest Hovingh at the Penn State Mastitis and Milk Quality Conference on the importance of recognizing the different pathogens that cause mastitis in dairy cows so the appropriate treatment can be implemented. A continuation of that list and insight on how to prevent mastitis can be found below. [Read more…]

2014 Massachusetts Envirothon winners announced

CN-RP-2-EnvirothonLEOMINSTER, MA  — A school year of preparation paid off for local teenagers who were rewarded for their knowledge of the environment at the 27th annual Massachusetts Envirothon. They were among 250 high school students from more than 30 Massachusetts communities from Boston to the Berkshires who descended on Sholan Farms in Leominster on Thursday, May 15, 2014 for the outdoor field competition. [Read more…]

Thirty mile tractor ride

CN-MR-3-Tractorby Laura Rodley

The world moved at a slower pace as 46 people on tractors rode a 30-mile route along backcountry roads and main thoroughfares of western Massachusetts during the 7th Annual Tractor Ride on May 18. At 12 miles an hour, the convoy drove through the towns of Cummington, Peru, Windsor, Savoy and West Cummington, then back to their starting point at Cummington Fairgrounds for a chicken barbecue. [Read more…]

Starting a farm

CN-CM-MR-1-StartingaFarmby Sanne Kure-Jensen

Many states are growing new farms and farmers, according to preliminary reports from the recent USDA agricultural census. Consumer support of local farmers continues to grow. Farmers markets, direct sales and agritourism help make farming a viable occupation in many regions.

In her recent webinar called “Starting a Farm,” Rachel Armstrong of farmcommons.org explained how to establish a new farm business. She covered legal issues of starting a new farm, such as buying land and equipment, leasing, forming a business, buying insurance and protecting the farm. [Read more…]