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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.

Clinic day reveals two surprise pregnancies!

My herd clinic vet, Steve Wadsworth, was at the farm this morning to do some paperwork on a project he is doing with several farmers in the area. Noah came in and talked with Dr. Steve about the lariat Steve let him try a couple of clinics ago. That reminded me of what we used the lariat for that day.

Our monthly herd clinic was moved up a day this month. Dr. Steve was participating in a charity golf tournament tomorrow, our regular clinic day, so he came this morning to do the regular monthly pregnancy and post-calving checks, vaccinations, and whatever else we needed looking at. Today we checked 8-10 cows and heifers that we would soon be breeding to make sure their reproductive systems were fine and functioning normally. We had a nice surprise when we checked two heifers that I thought were not pregnant, but we found out they were both almost 3 months pregnant.

The biggest challenge today was to catch Scooter, a 6-month old Angus bull that had been outside with its mother since he was born last November. Scooter needed to be steered and we needed to catch him, which would be a challenge since we had never handled him before. All our bulls that we raise for beef production are steered or "fixed" for two main reasons. The first reason is for saftey. Bulls can become aggressive as they mature and we don't want anyone getting hurt here on the farm from a bull charging. Every year we hear of some farmer in the area being attackd by a bull on their farm. The second reason is we don't want any of our heifers being bred by a bull in our beef operation.

We managed to get Scooter and several other animals in the corral. Using Dr. Steve's lariat--yes, a real cowboy lariat--we snagged Scooter and snubbed him up to a post. We then also put a good, rugged halter on him and then Dr. Steve went to work. The process is very humane, not involving surgery, and we thought Scooter was a very good patient. I think we had a harder time letting Scooter go. Once we started loosening the restraints, he really started jumping around, but we turned him loose without incident. Noah, who loves playing a cowboy, was helping all through clinic that morning and tried twirling Dr. Steve's lariat once we were done with it.

** Read the story of how one woman committed to climbing Mount Washington, New England's highest peak, after attending our Strong Women Summit, in The Strong Women Daily News. **

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Hi, It was a real pleasure to read your blog. I don't know much about farming of any sort. Your stories are very interesting. Keep up the good work. Sincerely, Val

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