Maine Water Buffalo Company

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAby Tamara Scully

If you raise cows, don’t go rushing to diversify your herd with water buffalo. Although a bovine species, they can’t interbreed with cows or bison, they don’t graze in the same way and can’t be fed the same rations. They do best with access to water and mud, their horns serve to regulate body temperature, and they go feral quickly.

“They are very similar to cattle, but very different,” said Jessica Farrar, who raises these majestic animals along with her husband, Brian. “Our advice to anyone interested in water buffalo is for them to do their homework.” [Read more…]

Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross holds listening session in Newport 

CN-MR-1-Vermont Secretary 1by Bethany M. Dunbar

NEWPORT, VT — Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross held a listening session and talked with local farmers about agriculture issues. The two-hour session Dec. 3 was part of a series of meetings, the Secretary has been holding around the state.

Ross had met with U.S. Senator Pat Leahy shortly before, and he told the local farmers that the farm bill is in better shape than it was a few months ago. It passed the Senate some time ago, but more recently a version has passed the House and now is in a conference committee. “The biggest battle is not dairy. It’s SNAP,” he said, referring to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. [Read more…]

Year-round lambing with planned crossbreds

CN-MR-3-Year round 1by Sally Colby

It isn’t easy to supply large amounts of fresh lamb year-round, but North Star Sheep Farm is doing just that. With about 825 ewes on four farms and a carefully planned breeding schedule, North Star is providing lamb to Whole Foods and New England chefs.

“We were born into it and it’s part of our lives,” said Lisa Webster, explaining that she and her husband Phil are fourth and fifth generation sheep farmers. “The farm we live on has been continually in use for the past 300 years.” [Read more…]

Equine Affaire 2013

CN-MR-3-Equine Affaire 1by George Looby, DVM

For four days in November the center of the horse world in the northeast was located on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA. From Nov. 7-10 the horse and its equine cousins held center stage as thousands of spectators attended demonstrations and lectures, visited vendors, and spent an evening watching a coliseum show featuring the horse.

Health and wellness issues were covered by several traditional veterinary clinics. For those owners whose animals might be in need of longer post-surgical treatment, there were facilities offering physical therapy and rehabilitation. There were booths devoted to the whole range of ointments, salves and powders that might be used in the treatment of the usual run of nick, cuts and bruises that any horse owner might expect from his/her animal. [Read more…]

Red Gate Farm

CN-MR-3-Red Gate 2by Laura Rodley
Sometimes a farm’s buildings and land constitute its backbone, maintaining its taproot even while it no longer functions as a farm. A farm purchased in 1870 by the Williams family in Buckland, MA, with its landmark red barn, was actively farmed by the late Francis and Harry Williams until the 1960s. Changing hands several times, locals still called it Williams Farm.

The farm was exactly what Ben Murray, then a Northampton, MA resident, visualized and searched out for two years, as his vision of a perfect teaching farm. During those two years, he formed the non-profit Kistner Foundation Inc., named in honor of his grandmother, with four others making a Board of Directors: his father Ted Murray, Buckland residents Peter Kitchell and Melissa Letourneau, and Louise Smith of Montague. [Read more…]