40th Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair

by Laura Rodley
Organizers of the 40th Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair that occurs on Memorial Day weekend in Cummington, MA are recognizing the anniversary in a unique way. Co-chairs Lisa Bertoldi of Williamsburg, Shawn Thayer, who has attended every fair since its inception, and Aaron Loux, both of Cummington, are currently in the final stages of formalizing a scholarship in the amount of $500 that will go towards a young student studying sheep culture and production related studies at the college level. Application procedures are being fine-tuned.

“We’re not gentrified, not fancy, very much to its roots. We’re still very ‘sheepy’,” said Bertoldi, “offering sheep shows, two full days of dog trials featuring border collies, a myriad of fiber arts and vendors selling anything related to fiber from yarn to spinning wheels, as well as fleece, woolcraft and photography exhibits judged on Saturday and spinning contests.”

The fair has retained, “All the wonderful things that we do that have been lost at other fairs.”

These include a potluck supper at the close of the Saturday at 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. attended by shearers, farmers, exhibitors, vendors and fiber people and whoever would like to join in. “It’s a potluck, then it’s a business meeting, then it’s an ice cream social. In classic farmer approach, not a minute is wasted,” said Bertoldi, co-chair since June.
During the day, the 4-H food booth sells their landmark lamb bits. [Read more…]

Mastitis: are vaccines the answer?

by Tamara Scully

The Penn State Mastits and Milk Quality Conference featured speakers and researchers from several universities, and emphasized the need for a multi-faceted approach to manage mastitis. Addressing mastitis means focusing on prevention, identifying the organism responsible, taking steps to stop infection and appropriately treating cases of infection based on their etiology.

“Our ultimate goal is to prevent infection,” Gina Pighetti, Ph.D, of the University of Tennessee, said. [Read more…]

Deconstructing lameness in dairy cows

C4-MR-2-LAMENESSPart 1: hoof anatomy and how lameness happens

by Sally Colby

Dr. Ernest Hovingh, extension veterinarian, Penn State University, echoes what dairy farmers already know:  that lameness in dairy cattle is an important problem in the industry. In addition to affecting reproduction, milk production and overall health, lameness is a true animal welfare issue that must be addressed. [Read more…]

The answer is goat’s milk

CN-MR-3-The answer 1by Laura Rodley

Maribeth Ritchie of Sangha Farm in Plainfield, MA makes goat cheese: chevre, feta, brie, St. Jerome, cheddar and Trappist, and 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 1600s era house and growing organic vegetables under animal power — two oxen, Moses and Abraham. That was 2004. [Read more…]

Sawyer Farm

CN-MR-3-Sawyer Farm 1by Laura Rodley

Lincoln and Hilary Costa farm with a team of horses at their 45 acre Sawyer Farm in Worthington, MA, providing produce and meat for a year-round CSA of 15 families at their home since 2010.

Their horses are both retired from competitive pulling on the country fair circuit. Misty is a spry half Belgian, half Percheron 18 year old and Mouse is an energetic Belgian 22 year old. [Read more…]