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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.

Horses in the mist

Noah and I were working in the garden today, harvesting the beets, turnips, and rutabagas. It was supposed to be a sunny, warm day, but the clouds didn't want to burn off and the air stayed damp and cold. We loaded the vegetables into the small trailer behind the Cub Cadet, and Noah drove it over to the root cellar where we unloaded the harvest.

While we worked, Yukon barked at something coming down the road. It was one of our neighbors, Barb and Vern Varin, driving a team of horses hitched to a passenger wagon. Five girls were giggling in the back, sitting on the long benches on either side of the wagon. They wanted to know if Noah wanted to ride around the block with them. He quickly grabbed a heavier coat from the mud room, and jumped on the back of the wagon. I kept on working in the garden, and was about finished when Yukon barked again, signaling the return of the wagon riders. Noah had enjoyed himself, and Barb hoped that he wouldn't have any ill-effects from sitting in the back of the wagon with all those girls. I said he was used to being around all his girl cousins, and that in a few years he wouldn't mind being surrounded by all those females.


The wagon went back up the road, the yellow warning lights on the back flashing as the horses, drivers, riders, and wagon disappeared into the damp fall mist. It wasn't so long ago that this would have been a common sight, horse-drawn rigs, on the dirt roads of Vermont. Vestiges of a slower, simpler time that I wish would come back to our country. Life is just going too fast..


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A gaggle of girls giggling. Who could resist? And turnips were our best "crop" this rainy summer. The greens are great in soup. We still have plants growing in containers and in the raised bed, waiting for a freeze to sweeten them. Keep up the good work, y'all.

Hi Farmer Johnathan,
I have a couple of questions about hay.
1. What brand of round baler do you have?
2. Which tractor do you make your round bales with?
3. In a blog entry from a while ago, I remember you saying you were interested in getting a large square baler. Did you, and if so, do you like it?
I know hay season is long over, but I love watching my neighbor bale hay and I am wondering what equipment other farmers use.
Thanks and happy farming!

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