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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.

A "moo-ooo-oon-light " walk in the snow

This evening, at the end of milking, I went out in the freestall area of the barn to take down the boards we use to pen the cows up for milking. The barn was almost totally empty, with only a few cows crowded around one of the stock tanks to get a drink of water. Usually by this time the cows are waiting at the feed bunk for their evening feeding of second-cut baleage. I walked out to the barnyard to see what was going on.

By the light of the nearly-full moon, I could see almost the entire milking herd out in the snow covered pastures. I usually leave the barnyard gate open through the day in case the cows want to wander around the pasture, getting some excercise and just nosing around. Not many had been out in the pasture during the day today, but for some reason they all wanted to be out there tonight. What drew them out there tonight I don't know. I hadn't seen the barn and barnyard that empty since grazing season. Maybe the cows were out wandering in the pastures, wishing it was a moonlit night in June with lush, green grass to munch on under to moon's soft gaze.

I like seeing the cows out in the pastures, even when the pastures are covered with snow. I'm sure mentally and physically it's good for them, and it's good for us, too. You just have to be careful where you ski the next day or you may ski right through a cow flop!

Winter Beard.jpg--Jonathan, Howmars Farm
Franklin, Vermont


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Hi, Great story. I wish I had a dollar for every time I stepped or slid on a cow flop. Helen

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