Soil health improves with managed livestock impact

CE-MR-Soil Health (cover photo)East Berne, NY — A family, a farm and a flock of sheep is a beautiful thing especially if you’re a soil microbe under a thick, diverse blanket of grass at the Helder-Herdwyck Farm in East Berne, NY.
Hosts Ray, Erin and Rena Bradt opened up their growing operation to 20 farmers and agency personnel for an all-day grazing workshop entitled “Manage Your Livestock So They Work for You”. It was a snapshot of how grazing animals, properly managed, and dialing in adequate pasture recovery times improves the health of the sward while mitigating the parasite presence. The Bradts demonstrated how they took a weedy pasture and scrubby hedgerows and made them into vibrant ecosystems using animal impact and portable flex-netting while feeding the soil manure and trampled forage. [Read more…]

Proper grazing of livestock requires patience and solid advice

CE-MR-3-Quaker view872by Pat Malin
AVA, NY — When he started raising beef 10 years ago at Quaker View Beef Farm in northwestern Oneida County, Paul Snider recalled learning through trial and error. Though he has left his novice mistakes behind and has made his business profitable, he feels it is important to pass on his lessons to others.
Snider and his wife, Mary, recently hosted a pasture walk at their farm with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County. As Paul showed off his Angus herd, he discussed his methods for rotational grazing, fencing, feeding and watering, bookkeeping and sales.
Quaker View Farm was established in 1867. Mary Snider’s father, Paul Kirk, grew up here and purchased the farm from his parents in 1965. He and his wife, the former Lou Ann Mumpton, operated Kirk Farm as a conventional dairy farm with their six sons and daughters until 2000. Kirk later sold the cows, but maintained the farm as a hay operation. He died in 2010 at the age of 66. [Read more…]

County princesses and the public’s disconnect with dairy

CWM-MR-3-County princesses 2by Steve Wagner
Sometimes writing up the Dairy Princess Coronation, which is a kind of milky nightcap to the All American Dairy Show that closes a week before, is like penning a theatrical review. There is much theater with princess contestants donning costumes and regaling speeches about the virtues of their chosen interest. There is pageantry with formal entrances and fewer formal exits. A keyboardist plays subtle milk cocktail segue music to ease the audience from one segment into another. The event closes with the inauguration of a state dairy princess and two alternates, a trio who will spend much of the remainder of this year and most of the next promoting dairy farming around the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. And of course, there are a plethora of awards and recognitions for contributions above and beyond the call of duty. [Read more…]

Dairy farmers at FarmAid: many ways to advocate

CNM-MR-4-Farm aid 4by Lorraine H. Lewandrowski
Remembering back to Farm Aid concerts that have been held around the country, I was surprised to hear that Saratoga, NY, was selected for Farm Aid 2013. Initial public relations materials didn’t seem to mention that dairy is New York’s top agricultural product. So, a group of farm women reached out to Farm Aid staff in Cambridge, MA, offering high resolution photos of dairy farms and farmers for use during the concert. We were fortunate to have a pool of photos not only from professional ag photographers, but also from Michael Femia, a volunteer who has been traveling New York’s country roads to capture images of dairy farmers and our support people. [Read more…]

Horses pull more than their own weight in The Big E Horse Pulling Contest

CN-MR-3-Horses pull 1by Sanne Kure-Jensen
Enthusiastic horse owners and audiences saw powerful horses pulling enormous loads at horse pulling competitions at The Big E on Sept. 16. Displaying Herculean strength, horses and their teamsters took turns pulling a stone sled with ever-increasing weights in three classes.
The teams pulled a stone boat or sled weighing about 500 lbs. loaded with additional weights. (The sled weight was not included in the weight pulled.) In the first round, the sled carried 3,000 lbs. with 1,000 lbs. added per round. After a few rounds, 500 lbs. were added per round. Teams had five minutes to make up to three hitches with a measurable forward distance. Their best distance was entered for that round. To advance to the next round, teams had to pull the sled at least 12 feet forward in one continuous motion. [Read more…]