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…]

What does the price crystal ball say?

CNM-MR-1-Crystal Ball396by Katie Navarra

If pricing were as simple as looking into a crystal ball farmers could rest easy knowing they were selling their crops at a price that is sustainable for the farm and what the market could bear.

“Small and mid-size producers are often shooting from their hip (when setting prices),” said Bob Weybright, Business Agricultural Economic Development Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program. [Read more…]

Family farming

CN-MR-2-FamFarming1by Tamara Scully

Small farms — at least successful ones — can’t be stagnant. They need to evolve to meet the needs of their customer base, keep production profitable and grow with the farmer’s changing needs. One such farm, which has continually reassessed its farming model as the farm, the local food community and the family has grown, is Sandiwood Farm in Wolcott, VT. [Read more…]