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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.

THE LOSS OF A COW

Two weeks ago, we had a sad day on the farm. The fresh cow I had the vet for died early in the morning, around 5 a.m. I know the time because she was still alive when I got to the barn at 4:30 a.m. This was Cara, a 6 Ω year old, and this was the fifth calf she had delivered. I could tell she was not doing well by her labored breathing and rapid heartbeat. I went ahead and prepped the milking equipment for the morning milking and then penned the cows up for milking. When I went back in the pen to check Cara, she was gone. One thing about living on a farm, you grasp the cycle of life and death at an early age. But it doesn't make losing an animal feel any better.

We now compost our mortalities here on the farm. I don't have to pay someone to come and take them away, and I guess I gain some solace in knowing that this cow that was born, raised, lived, and died here will remain part of the farm as food for the soil and grass that will feed another generation of animals.

--Jonathan, Howmars Farm


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