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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.

Calving season has begun on the farm

CalfNewMarch29Closeup.jpgBesides checking the sap buckets regularly the past few days, we have been checking some expectant mother cows quite often, too. We had six cows due to calve in the next few days, and today the first two calves were born! The first calf born since "Sostice" in December was, unfortunately, a bull calf. We'll have to decide whether to sell him right away or keep him to raise as a steer for the next couple of years.

The second calf born today was a heifer from a cow named Irma. I found Irma with her calf out in the freestall barn when I went down to check on the girls around 9:30 PM. The calf was a little dirty so I brought her into the milkhouse and hosed her off with some nice warm water and then dried her with a few towels. Once I had the calf placed in a nice clean pen in the maternity room, I herded her mother, Irma, through the milking parlor and into the pen. She went right to her calf and started licking it to clean it up.CalfNewWithMomIrmaCloseUp2Mar29.jpg

I brought pails of water and leaves of hay to both cows in the maternity pens, and after checking the rest of the expectant mothers I headed to the house to shower and then to bed.

--Jonathan, Howmars Farm
Franklin, Vermont


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