Rotational grazing for maximum fertility and soil health

CEW-MR-2-ROTATIONAL-GRAZING_18312by Sanne Kure-Jensen

Farmers have understood for centuries that animal manure helps return vital nutrients to crop fields. Many farmers pull mechanical spreaders behind fossil fuel-burning tractors to move manure into fields, but at Polyface farm, livestock spread their own manure. Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley advocates rotational grazing; they blend livestock and pasture species to puzzle pests.

Well managed grazing concentrates livestock in one area for a short period and then move them on. At Polyface farm, portable electric fences contain grazing beef herds. Farmers move the fences and livestock daily. Salatin said his animals look forward to their fresh “salad bar” each morning. The cattle graze forage at a sustainable level. They trample their manure patties ensuring good soil contact and starting the decomposition process. [Read more…]

Animal aeration

CEW-MR-1-Animal-aeration12by Troy Bishopp

Have you ever had a dream so vivid it woke you from a sound sleep? Two weeks ago, it seems I fell prey to dreaming of green pastures, fence moves and frolicking cows. This joyful trance was rudely interrupted by a loud “MOO”. It was the kind of sound that suggests it’s a bit too real. This was not a dream, but what we affectionately call, “A class one farm emergency.”

As I bolted from the confines of a comfortable bed in unison with the “The cows are out” declaration, I saw several heifers munching on my wife’s shrubs under our window. Confusion, panic and anger swept over my demeanor as my wife, daughter and I tried to find some appropriate cow-catching attire at 4 a.m. My mind and heart raced as I propelled my sock-less feet into the cold rubber boots not thinking I was about to commit a fatal mistake. [Read more…]

SUNY Cobleskill’s American Animal Producers Club host 4th annual Livestock Judging Clinic

CE-MR-2-SUNY-Cobleskill31by Elizabeth A. Tomlin

A day of beef cattle, swine, goat and sheep judging clinics, along with showmanship clinics, industry speakers and competitions took place at the Schoharie County Sunshine Fairgrounds on April 25.

“This is the fourth year that American Animal Producers Club has offered the spring clinic at the Cobleskill fairgrounds,” said Adviser Jason R. Evans, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Agricultural Business Management at SUNY Cobleskill. “Each year, approximately 90–100 juniors have participated along with their families and 4-H or FFA group leaders.” [Read more…]

Maple museum open at Jed’s Maple Products

CN-MR-2-MAPLE-MUSEUM-02by Bethany M. Dunbar

DERBY, VT — A steady stream of visitors braved the back roads for Vermont’s maple open house weekend March 28 and 29. Many of them found their way to Jed’s Maple Products to visit the sugar makers’ new maple museum and see a working arch fired by steam created with used vegetable oil.

While young Jonah Wheeler served up maple pizza to open house visitors, his father Steve Wheeler gave tours of the working sugarhouse. Just up the hill a short walk, Jonah’s grandfather Merle was holding court in the maple museum, answering questions from curious tourists and telling stories of his adventures sugaring over the years. Among the artifacts on display in the museum are a wooden sap bucket, 20 examples of spouts used over the years, a vertical metal “settling tank” with a spigot an inch or so off the bottom and a cast iron maple sugar cake mold. The mold would be used to make regular rolls most of the year and sugar cakes during maple season. [Read more…]

Makes house calls

CN-MR-2-HOUSE-CALLS-006by Laura Rodley

When travelling veterinarian Stephanie Vassar arrives in her truck and takes two suitcases out of her truck, she is not moving in. She is carrying her Universal Myrad 60 digital x-ray machine to x-ray horses’ legs, checking for arthritis and other medical issues of her patients.

“It’s super cool,” she said. When asked how much it cost, she answered, “More than my truck,” a 2013 Toyota 4-Runner. She bought the x-ray machine a month ago for her new business, Great Falls Equine And Veterinary Services based in Gill, MA that she opened at the beginning of March. She travels all over Franklin County, as far east as Phillipston, up to Southern Vermont and as far south as Southampton and South Hadley, treating sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas and smaller backyard cattle herds.

[Read more…]