Now the snow is gone, and most of us are waiting impatiently for spring to arrive. The first harbingers of the season have blossomed, but for every group of early bloomers there are a few plants that pose potential threats to livestock and pets. After a winter on dry forage and silage, the natural inclination of animals turned out to pasture is to seek out greenery. Unfortunately, all that is green is not healthy, nutritious or beneficial. [Read more…]
The predator approaches his prey quickly, then slows down and calculates his next move. He crouches and waits until the prey settle down. The predator is patient, but is quick to act as soon there’s an opportunity for a capture. As the prey start to move, the predator moves too; in perfect harmony with the prey, and always ready to change plans in the blink of an eye. [Read more…]
In 1992, surrounded by English Cotswold sheep, a city girl found her calling. Dr. Robyn Metcalfe did not grow up on a farm, but found her passion was preserving heritage livestock. She shared the story of her family’s efforts at Kelmscott Rare Animal Farm as part of the ongoing lecture series at Swiss Village Foundation in Newport, RI.
A few hundred years ago, farms across England raised Cotswold sheep for wool, Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs for meat and lard, Black Jersey Giant chickens for eggs and meat and Kerry cows for butter, cheese and milk. Before tractors, every farm had at least one English Shire horse for plowing, cultivation and transportation. These days, most farmers seek more efficient and cost-effective livestock, and many heritage breeds are nearing extinction. [Read more…]
Maribeth Ritchie of Sangha Farm in Plainfield, MA makes goat cheese: chevre, feta, brie, St. Jerome, cheddar and Trappist, plus more. Feta sells so quickly she can’t keep it in stock at the Western Massachusetts stores where she and her husband, Derek Ritchie, deliver it.
In 2000, they raised and sold organic vegetables in Maine at their Sangha Farm, then relocated to Ashfield, MA, renting a 1670 house and land, growing organic vegetables under animal power — two oxen purchased at 48 hours old, Moses and Abraham. That was 2004. [Read more…]
For farmers who’ve been watching wildlife activity on pastures or hayfields during the past 10 years, a decline in the number of grassland birds won’t come as much of a surprise. For those who’ve been watching for the past 40 years, the change is even more significant. Grassland birds — bobolinks, Savannah sparrows, Eastern meadowlarks and others — have suffered a decline of 75 percent over the last four decades. At that rate, they will soon be extinct. Unless something changes. [Read more…]