Austin Brothers Valley Farm

CN-MR-3-Austin68xby Laura Rodley

The line “the cattle are lowing” from the Christmas song, “Away in a Manger,” comes to mind while listening to the cattle serenade their owner, Michael Austin, during feeding time at Austin Brothers Valley Farm in Belchertown, MA.

The friendly mix of purebred Simmentals, Black Angus, Limousins and Herefords are grass-fed on 50 acres of pasture and several hundred farm-harvested round bales in winter, plus corn and silage grown on another 35 acres. The farm has five barns, a storage shed and garage.

But the cattle do have to share. During October through Halloween, three and half acres of their cornfield becomes a family-friendly corn maze, which has delighted more than 1,000 adventurers for four years. Some people do get lost, Austin admits, but they find their way out. “I haven’t run anybody over in the field,” he joked. [Read more…]

Everyone is aging

CM-MR-1-Everyone aging 1cby Sally Colby

If your family has had difficult conversations about the ability of an older family member to continue farming safely, the first thing to remember is that everyone starts to age from the time they are born. As a group, farmers are the most rapidly aging workforce in the United States, with an average age of 58 years; compared to the average workforce age of 42.

The problem for farm families is that most farmers simply don’t stop farming.

“Farmers don’t retire,” said Deborah Reed, an ag nurse who specializes in gerontology. “A lot of the generic things that we see as remedies and solutions for the main workforce don’t resonate too well with people as they enter later mid-life. There’s no standard retirement age, no performance evaluation. Farmers say, ‘we work til we drop’ — they work because they like it.” [Read more…]

Observation, documentation and sanitation stressed at Calf Management

CEW-MR-3-Calf Management6by Elizabeth A. Tomlin

Any successful dairy farmer will tell you that good calf management practices have been proven to maximize calf health and reduce vet costs.
A 5-day Calf Management Training program sponsored by the Central New York Cornell Cooperative Extension Dairy and Field Crops Team, explained the fine tuning points of those practices. The training program culminated with a farm walk and hands-on demonstration at Dykeman Dairy in Fultonville, NY.

Josh Kilmartin has been working at Dykeman Dairy for nearly 25 years and has been in the position of calf manager for many of those years. [Read more…]

Letter to the Editor: Agriculture education advocacy

indexAgriculture education in our secondary schools continues to be a high priority for New York State. With looming projections of teacher shortages both statewide and throughout the nation, coupled with Cornell’s elimination of the Department of Agriculture Education and termination of its teacher certification program, New York agriculture education and FFA are at a crisis situation that must be addressed! [Read more…]