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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.

Wood ash makes the grass grow for a plentiful second cutting of hay

We finished doing the second cutting of hay last week. Abouot ten days ago, we had done round bales on about 80% of the fields we crop, and today we were having the other 20% square baled. The second cutting was yielding really well. We had already made 92 second-cut round bales to go along with the 200 first-cut round bales. We made around 350 square bales which would have been about 15 round bales,giving us a total second-cut yield of almost 110 round bales. Amazing!!

The platform over the freestalls was empty and swept free of old hay, ready for this year's crop. With the wagon parked by the open-side of the dairy barn, and the hay conveyor sitting on the floor of the wagon, we started to put in the coming winter's supply of hay for the young stock. Not only were we putting in hay from the fields we crop, we were also getting about twelve hundred bales from Dennis Demars to give us the 1500 total square bales we needed for the winter.

The first two loads were unloaded by Justin, nephew Brad, Noah, and myself. The hay stack grew quickly, with a freshly emptied wagon immediately replaced by a full one that was hauled in by my dad using our Chevy farm truck. The last four loads of the day were unloaded quickly after my brother showed up to put the bales on the conveyor and Ben joined the crew in the platform, giving us two more people in the haymow. By nightfall, we had 900 bales in the barn.The next afternoon, Dennis finished baling. Three more loads stacked in the haymow from his place, along with the hay from our fields made for a grand total of about 1400 bales. That should be enough square bales for the winter, but we may make a few more bales when we do the third cutting if the weather in mid-September cooperates. With all our fields cropped, the next thing on the agenda is spreading manure.


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would it be possible to start a organic dairy farm on five acre? About how many cows to five acres? How can I get people to help? Chichester,NH. Thank you.

A farmers work is never done.

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