This past January I traveled with eight other of my classmates from the University of New Hampshire to Prince Edward Island, Canada with the New England Dairy Travel Course. Students from the University of Maine, the University of Connecticut, the University of Rhode Island, and the University of Massachusetts were also enrolled in this course. All 41 of us traveled together via bus that was supported by a very generous grant from Northeast Farm Credit’s AgEnhancement program. We met Jan. 4 at the University of New Hampshire’s Durham location at our Fairchild Dairy Farm. As UNH students, we gave a tour to the visiting colleges of our facility starting with our calf room. The calf room holds around 20 calves and is attached to the main barn where the lactating cows are held. The rough herd size is 90 cows, milking 75 of which 25 belong to our student-run CREAM herd. The somatic cell count for the CREAM herd is 71,000 cells/mL and the somatic cell count for the remainder of the milking herd is 54,000 cells/mL. They are milked in a double five herringbone parlor and are held in a tie stall. The heifer barn is located in close proximity to the main barn and the dry cows reside in a pack barn that gives them access to a field for grazing, weather permitting. Continue reading
After a savage winter beset by Nor’easters and valiant storms, sugaring is underway. The Williams Farm family in Deerfield, MA has been sugaring since 1853. They started tapping in early March, with their first boiling on March 14.
“The season’s off to a slow start so far; we’re hoping to have a good month of March, maybe beginning of April. You never can tell,” said Kenneth Williams IV, best known as Chip, 5th generation, speaking at their Williams Farm Sugarhouse restaurant. It is two to three weeks later than usual, as traditionally, they start sugaring Feb. 20, if the weather allows. What they waited for was 40-degree days with 20-degree nights for the sap to run. Continue reading
It is now crystal clear that GMOs, topically and acronymically, will be conversational fodder for the next few years and possibly the next decade. Equally clear is the notion that American public understanding, or lack thereof, stems largely from European thinking, especially British attitudes toward the subject. At a farmer’s breakfast in 2013, former PA Ag Secretary George Greig said something that bears repeating and sets a general tone for this discussion. “I think a lot of this comes from Europe because there has been an effort against GMOs in European countries. We’ve met with quite a few different countries including Germany about a month or six weeks ago to form an ag co-op. Their concern is that they won’t be able to produce the food for their population. So they came here to talk to the Department of Agriculture. They also talked to Penn State to see what they could do. They were interested in how we’re keeping up with our population, and still have food to export. I don’t know the answers to what people’s fears are with GMO. There have been studies done at Penn State and the University of Michigan which have stated that conventional food supplies are as safe as organic and non-GMO products. I would say that we have to keep educating our people. Germany’s cash receipts were about a little over a third of what Pennsylvania’s are. In other words, Pennsylvania produced more food, which was enlightening to Germany to learn that they are not quite so big a country as they thought they were.” Continue reading
Farm ponds can be both beautiful and functional as irrigation reservoirs. In addition, having a pond can save you about 10 percent on your farm insurance premium, if you install the right type of fire hydrant hookup for your local fire department. “These hook ups cost only a couple hundred dollars to put in,” commented Bryan Swistock, Penn State Water Resources Extension Coordinator. Some regular attention to potential problems can help to keep your pond from causing you headaches. Here are some suggestions from Swistock for irrigation pond owners, starting with ones that could be less obvious until you find yourself clobbered by them. Continue reading