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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.

Independence Day comes early for the herd at Howmars Farm

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(Left: One of the herd takes great delight in playing in the dirt for the first time this spring.)

Things have been greening up nicely around Howmars Farm and we have been busy getting ready for the grazing season. From the end of April to early October we rotationally graze all our dairy animals, and poultry, taking advantage of Vermont's climate that lets grass grow well all season long. No more hauling in round bales to feed the stock, and no more hauling away the stuff that comes out the other end. The cows and heifers take care of the forage part of their diet all by themselves, and they spread their own manure, too!

Today was turnout day for the cows. (The first time since winter that they get to go out on green pastures.) The weather was beautiful, the hillsides were awash with different hues of green, brown, and red from the budding hardwood trees, and the dandelions and daffodils were blooming around the barns. The fence was tightened up around the grazing strip, and the stock tank was in place and filling with fresh water. All we needed were cows. As soon as the gate was opened, the antics began.

 

There was the usual running around the grazing strip and wrestling head-to-head. The extra treat for the cows today was a pile of topsoil I had left at one end of the strip from the compost pad construction last fall. They went nuts pawing and wallowing in the pile of earth. Someone would have thought they were playing King --I mean Queen--of-the-Hill! In awhile they settled down and actually started grazing. In the afternoon, as I came back from checking the fence across the brook where the cows will go next, the girls were lying peacefully on the knoll of the grazing strip, placidly chewing their cuds, enjoying the shade of the large white pine tree. I guess they were as happy as I was to have them out grazing again.

Check out these happy cows from previous turnout days at Howmars Farm:

http://stonyfield.typepad.com/bovine/2007/05/independence_da.html

http://stonyfield.typepad.com/bovine/2008/05/youve-heard-of.html

Got a question for farmer Jonathan? Write him here by clicking onto "Comments" just below.


Comments

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Is that a special aerator at the end of the hose at the stocktank? Does that make the water organic? (Just Kidding!) A valve, perhaps?

Sorry for the minutia question. It really is beautiful seeing the cows on green grass.

I FOUND YOUR SITE FROM STONEYFIELD FARM.
IT IS REALLY GREAT TO SEE FARMING THE OLD FASHION WAY AGAIN. GROWING UP IN ALABAMA MY GRANDFATHER AND SONS RAISED RED POTATOS. AND THEIR LABOR WAS ALL THE KIDS THEY HAD.
MY GRANDFATHER HAD OUTHOUSES IN THE FIELDS AT ONE TIME BECAUSE HE FARMED SO MUCH LAND.
NOW IT IS TURNED INTO A HOUSEING AREA.
I STILL ENJOY GARDENING(FLOWERS ONLY).
ENJOY SEEING A FIELD FULL OF COWS.

What kind of cows do you have? I grew up on a family diary farm in MN and we had Holsteins but I don't recognize your type of cows.

Also, is it difficult becoming an certified organicfarm? Love the yogurt, hope I can find it back in Florida where I live.

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