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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.

Herd clinic on a frosty, below zero morning

It was our monthly herd clinic this morning with Dr. Steve. It was supposed to have been Tuesday, but we switched it to Thursday because he was SKIING with visiting relatives up at Jay Peak. We were just finishing getting ready when Steve pulled into the yard. We had a good-sized clinic, with 17 animals to pregnancy check or post-calving check, a calf to dehorn, and a lame cow to assess.

After dehorning the calf, we moved out to check the cows. We usually run them through the milking
parlor, but they didn't want to do it that way today. Rather than push them around on the slippery concrete, we checked them right out in the free stalls. Steve and I would check a few cows, and then Karen and Justin would let them out of the holding area. In no time we had the 15 cows checked, vaccinated, and on their way out to the barn yard to the bale rings for some hay. We then moved out behind the young stock barn and checked two heifers that had been serviced (impregnated) in late October. Both heifers and 9 of the 10 cows we checked were pregnant. All right!! Finally, we checked on Cait, a first-calf heifer, who had been knocked down by another cow and had injured her leg. Steve thought it was her knee joint that was the problem, and possibly she had chipped the bone. If we could keep her quiet, and give her lots of TLC, she mighty recover. Time will tell.

While Steve cleaned up and stored his gear in his truck, we shared recent happenings in our families, how our holidays had been, and how despite cold winter mornings like this one we both loved what we were doing and where we lived. We both had so much to be thankful for. Steve headed on to his next stop, I made sure the girls in the pens had hay and water, and then it was time for a coffee and a cinnamon bun left from Christmas morning.

PS Both our Have-A-Cow girls, mother Willa and daughter Winona, were confirmed pregnant today!


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