Burleson family keep innovating — but wet weather means a late season for all crops

CM-MR-2-Burleson family 1by Karl H. Kazaks
RICHFIELD, NC — “We’ve had a season unknown to most of us around today,” Ronnie Burleson said. “A wetter spring and summer than we can remember.”
So it has been — as in much of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast — in Stanly County, headquarters of Thurman Burleson & Sons Farm — a family partnership between Ronnie, his brother Dennis, son Andrew, and nephew Aaron. The Burlesons grow cotton, corn, beans, and wheat on 4,000 acres in five counties within a 50-mile radius of their home farm here.
Planting was delayed by about two weeks at the Burlesons’ operation.
With the cool wet spring, they could only plant corn “for a day or two before we’d have to wait,” Burleson said. They even sent some corn seed back, as they wanted to focus on planting 2,400 acres of cotton. “Hindsight being what it is, even late corn looks good,” Burleson said.
They weren’t able to make up lost time when planting cotton, though. Because of all the rain, some cotton plants experienced damping off. “We’ve got bare spots,” Burleson said. “Some of it just drowned. About all you can do is spray the weeds and keep up with the good stands.”
Persistent rain also delayed the Burlesons’ wheat harvest.
“We should be planting double-crop soybeans by June 30,” Burleson said. “Half of our wheat wasn’t harvested by then.” Because of the late wheat harvest, the Burlesons decided not to plant several hundred acres of beans, figuring the risk of planting so late just wasn’t worth it. [Read more…]

Erie County Fair Show results

CW-MR-ECF-CN5H2511Hamburg, NY — There were 242 sheep shown on Friday, Aug. 9, and Saturday, Aug. 10, during the 174th Erie County Fair’s annual open class sheep show. There were 36 exhibitors who competed for over $7,400 in premiums. Below are the results: [Read more…]

Spotlight on Farm Bureau Leader: Robert Morin, Horse Council chair

CN-RP-1-Spotlight on 1Robert Morin of Waldoboro is the new Chair of the Maine Farm Bureau Horse Council as of winter 2013. Robert moved to Maine in 1973 from Rhode Island. He has always had a love for horses, as well as an interest in all types of agriculture. As a teen he worked at a stable with 75-125 horses, learning to care for and ride them. Robert spent a few years in the service and then in 1981 started his small homestead — Barrel Hill Farm. Over the years at different times his farm has been home to sheep, pigs, chickens, and varying sized gardens. Robert has also been a residential builder since 1981. He believes everyone at some point should do some kind of volunteer civic duty for their community. With this said Robert has done over fifteen years of public service for his town of Waldoboro. Currently Robert serves on the board for Waldoboro Business Association and on the board for the Economic growth committee. Robert also is an active board member for New England Livestock Expo. [Read more…]

Horns and calves — part of Biodynamic Dairy Herd at Hawthorne Valley Farm

CN-MR-2-Horns and calves 2by Sanne Kure-Jensen
Steffen Schneider has been farming biodynamically for 30 years. Schneider’s practices include allowing mothers to rear their calves, careful breed selection with horns, daily rotational grazing with mixed forage, deliberate barn design and manure management with pigs. Everything on the farm strives for an ideal balance.
He shared his experience at the NOFA Summer Conference at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst in August.
Hawthorne Valley Farm
This 400-acre farm offers public educational workshops, summer camp and farm management programs celebrating the balance between agriculture and the natural environment.
This farm runs a herd of 130 animals and typically milk 50 to 60 cows. Animal manure is composted and recycled on pastures and vegetable fields. The farm’s diversified vegetable operation supports a 300-member CSA. The dairy and cheese-making operation’s by-product (whey) supports 40 pigs, which also offer manure management. Crop rotations include 30 to 40 acres of farm-raised wheat and other grains to support the on-farm bakery and local customers. All the straw is recycled on the farm as bedding, green manure or compost. [Read more…]

Preserving an old breed at Old Gjerpen Farm

CM-MR-2-Preserving 1by Sally Colby
When Richard and Donna Larson’s children headed off to college, the couple sold the horses that had been part of the farm and chose a species that both could manage easily.
“I’m a farm boy, she’s a city girl,” said Richard, who grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. “The compromise was to get something small that Donna was comfortable with, and that would allow me to do some breeding and showing.” The Larsons chose sheep, and although Richard hadn’t raised sheep before acquiring Leicester Longwools, he has studied the breed extensively and enjoys working with and showing the best of his flock.
The Larsons’ Old Gjerpen Farm in Culpeper, VA is named after the Gjerpen Church in Norway where Richard’s family farmed for centuries. The farm is currently home to 40 sheep — 20 ewes and 20 rams. Richard admits that it’s an unusual ratio, but there’s a reason. “The Leicester Longwool is a rare breed,” he said. “We have three distinct bloodlines.”
To start their flock, the Larsons purchased Leicester Longwool sheep from Colonial Williamsburg. “They did the original importation (of that breed) around 1990,” he said. “I wanted to close the flock, but in order to do that, I needed diversity.” Williamsburg’s A.I. breeding program involved the use of imported semen that represented the Riverside, Beechwood and Ravenswood bloodlines from New Zealand. Richard was satisfied these bloodlines would allow him to maintain internal genetic diversity. [Read more…]