welcome to the bovine bugle
Follow organic dairy farmer Jonathan Gates as he reports weekly from his Vermont family farm. Howmars Farm is a certified organic dairy farm, one of many Organic Valley/CROPP Cooperative farmer members who supply the milk that goes into making Stonyfield's yogurts and smoothies. The entire family pitches in on this third-generation farm. Check out some of the happenings on his farm and post your comments. Jonathan loves to get feedback from readers.
MEET JONATHAN, KAREN, BENJAMIN, JUSTIN, NOAH, HOWARD, MARY AND, OF COURSE, THE COWS
Hi, my name is Jonathan Gates and my family and I operate Howmars Farm, a certified organic dairy farm, located in Franklin, Vermont. The town of Franklin is in the northwest corner of the state with its northern border being Canada. The farm has 235 acres. Forty five acres is open pasture land, and the remaining acreage consists of hardwood and softwood woodland and wetlands. I am a third-generation dairy farmer. I run the farm with my wife, Karen, our three sons, Benjamin, Justin, and Noah, and my parents, Howard and Mary. My mom moved here in 1943 when she was 8 years old. Her father, Hugh Towle, operated the farm until his death in 1966. He normally milked 15-20 cows, first by hand by lantern-light, and later with vacuum-powered milking machines and electric lights. Tractors replaced horses in doing the field work, and a bulk tank was cooling the milk by 1960.
During the grazing season the milking herd, beef animals, and older replacement heifers feed on lush green grass provided by managed intensive grazing (mig). The forage source for the winter months is long stem baleage from plastic-wrapped round bales and dry square bales. The animals also recieve a pelleted grain concentrate year-round, along with free-choice kelp meal, trace mineral salt, minerals, and clay. All 45 acres of pasture on the farm is incorporated in the grazing rotation. We purchase all our stored forages from another farmer in Franklin, and most of our feed concentrates come from Morrison Feeds in Barnet, Vermont. All the feed for our animals has to be certified organinc. We have been a certified organic dairy since October, 1997.
Our farm produces approximately 850,000 pounds (about 100,000 gallons) of milk per year. The majority of our milk is sold by CROPP to Stonyfield Farm for yogurt production. We also sell organic beef, organic meat chickens and turkeys, maple syrup, compost, Christmas trees, logs and firewood. These other facets of our farm mesh very well with the operation of the dairy since they all have their season: Maple syrup production in the spring; compost, chickens, and turkeys in the summer and early fall; beef in the fall; Christmas trees, logs, and firewood in the winter.
óJonathan, Howmars Farm
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