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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.

Santa brings farmer Jonathan just what he wants

I must have been a very good farmer this year, because Santa brought me a very nice present. How he ever fit that new Kuhn-Knight manure spreader on his sleigh I'll never know. I guess it was just magic. Seriously, it was Santa's helper, Eric from Harvest Equipment, who brought the new spreader behind his sleigh, a Chevy Silverado.

Since early fall, Ben had been working on me and his grandfather to trade manure spreaders. The spreader he was pushing for us to trade for, a Kuhn Knight ProSlinger V-tank spreader , would handle all the different types of material here on the farm, plus we could put sawdust and sand in the stalls using the spreader. No more shoveling. After many phone calls, emails, farm visits by the two competing farm machinery dealerships, and hours of figuring, Eric found the spreader model we needed at a machinery dealership in western New York. Once the paperwork was okayed by Kuhn, Eric sent a truck to bring the new spreader to Swanton and then he delivered it to the farm. He went over the new piece of equipment, answered any questions I had, gave me the obligatory baseball caps with the Kuhn Knight logos, and then pulled our old spreader away with his sleigh.

I know it seems silly to be excited about a manure spreader, but the spreader will make it easier to transport manure down the road (no danger of leaking out on the road), it will do a better job spreading the manure on the fields resulting in higher crop yields, and the fact it will save my back from shoveling sand and sawdust make it a worthwhile investment for the farm. Being a small family farm, we bought the smallest spreader since our tractors are only big enough to run that model. Most of our equipment purchases involve the smallest model in the equipment lineup, reminding of a book we read in a forestry class titled, "Small is Beautiful". It espoused the virtues of small scale operations, like our organic farm. I've had different ag people here on the farm comment that the dairy industry in Vermont was stronger when there were 10 small 50-cow dairies in a community instead of one 500-cow dairy.

We'll use the spreader to stack manure through the winter, because of the winter spreading ban here in Vermont, and come spring we'll enjoy using the new spreader to fertilize the meadows and make the grass grow. Thanks for the spreader, Santa Eric, and I'll be extra good all year to see what you "bring" me next! year!!


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This made me laugh, but I know how important this is to your farm. One person's trash is another person's treasure. Enjoy your "gift"!

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