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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.

And the next "Survivor" contestant is...

Kathy, the newborn Survivor, safe and warm in her pen and nonplussed by her adventure.

I'm still shaking my head in disbelief over what happened Tuesday. It has made me marvel at the strength and hardiness of animals, and it taught me a good lesson in completely checking out a situation before giving up.

Tuesday morning we had our monthly herd clinic with Dr. Steve. The fresh cows were all doing fine, and every cow we pregnancy checked was, indeed, pregnant. The only down side was when Dr. Steve checked a cow that was due to calve. I had found her over in the woods Sunday morning and had wondered if she had calved that day. But, I found no signs of a birth taking place, I searched the immediate area and found no calf, and the cow, Thelma, took off for the barn showing no signs of wanting to hang around because she had a calf nearby. Steve's exam found that Thelma had calved. Needless to say I felt terrible. What had happened to the calf?

I just had to go back to the spot where I had found Thelma and give it one more look. In the afternoon, I took the four-wheeler and drove over to where I had seen Thelma Sunday morning. Again, nothing caught my eye. I crossed over the fence to look further into the woods, pushing pine branches out of the way. As I pushed one branch it broke with a loud snap!, and out jumped a calf from the underbrush. I was stunned. I could not believe a calf born over two days ago was still alive out here. She looked fine. I spoke to her, and when I got close she started nosing at my knee, telling me that she was very hungry.

Back at the barn, we put her in a nice warm calf pen and got her a bottle of warm colostrum from her mother who had just been milked. I had never seen a calf drink a half gallon of milk so fast. We saved a second bottle, and gave that to her later in the evening. I had to hold tight to the bottle so that she wouldn't pull it out of my hands. When I told my wife, Karen, about the calf, she said we should name it Kathy after Kathy O'brien, the Vermont resident who had appeared on the CBS show, "Survivor", twice. We thought that was a great idea. I never would have imagined a newborn calf could survive the elements, and the coyotes, for so long before being found.


--Jonathan, Howmars Farm
Franklin, Vermont

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Left: Some other creatures left out in the elements at Howmars Farm this week!


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Hi Jonathan, I love your blog!

I was just reading about "Kathy" the survivor, and I was wondering: Is it normal for mother cows to abandon their calves? Did you ever figure out why? Will she give milk to the calf now or will you have to continue to bottle feed it?

that is a beautiful story with a happy ending...one cute calf and she looks like a happy kathy !!!

Loved that beautiful Survivor story and the pictures.

And, I'm jealous - you've had snow!!!!! If we have a dozen flakes here in SC I'll be surprised.

Helen Dasher

Hi Jonathan,

Loved the story and the photos. Kathy is so adorable. Her story would make a good storybook for Christmas, "The Little Lost Calf."

Loved your story about Kathy! I have read it two or three times in amazement. I have never seen such a newborn! Their heads are really big compared to the rest of them aren't they! She is beautiful. I would like to sponsor her if possible. Let me know okay. Thanks for bringing us this blog. I really look foreward to sitting down to my computer and seeing if there is something new from your family.

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