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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.

Yukon comes to the rescue, and winter arrives for good

Looks like winter arrived to stay this past weekend. The first big snowstorm of the season hit the state. We didn't get the foot of snow they were predicting for around here, but we did get 4-6 inches of heavy wet snow. So, ready or not, winter is here at Howmars Farm. With temperatures predicted to go below zero tomorrow night, the snow will definitely not be melting.

Things around the farm are pretty well set for winter. We still have a few paddocks I had hoped to spread compost or manure on, but that might have to wait until next spring. In Vermont we have a winter ban on spreading manure from December 15th to April 1st. This helps prevent runoff of manure into waterways when the snow melts in the spring. I've been meaning to check the regulation to see if it includes compost as well.

The animals are pretty well set in their winter shelters, and we are getting into the routine of feeding roundbales and keeping all the bedded packs supplied with fresh bedding on a regular basis. The young group of heifers/steers, about 15 animals, did knock down a gate around midnight Friday night. Our black lab, Yukon, must have heard them running around on the lawn and woke Karen up with his barking. She had to rouse me out of bed and we went out and got the animals back where they belonged. Good job, Yukon!!

We had a few friends stop for a Christmas tree over the weekend. Although we aren't open to the general public--we wanted to give the trees one more year to grow so that we would have plenty to choose from--we are letting friends and relatives look for a tree if they would like to. Our tree is thawing out in the horsebarn. The boys are excited to get the tree in the house and decorated. Every season brings its own special happenings and memories to the farm.

JonMedView.jpg --Jonathan, Howmars Farm
Franklin, Vermont

Learn about other organic dairy farmers and the Organic Valley family of farms.


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I really enjoy your comments about your progress on your farm Jonathan. Your writing style is simple, folksy and to the point, and I get a lot of memories from my days on the farm in Gaissach, Germany. People who came always asked why does everything in Gaissach smell like kCow manure all the time? That little burg is all dairy. about 90%of all the inhabitants are Dairy producers. Thanks for your column. Dr. Gem

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