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Posted 7/31/2018 5:01pm by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members and farm friends,

The month of July was one of the hottest and driest for our farm in the last 20 years. Much of our time was spent moving irrigation, keeping the farm crew and the cows cool. During the very hot weather we limited garden work to the AM only for our employees and kept the cows in the shady barn. Never the less when it is humid, the cows who give off a lot of body heat, make the milking parlor a very sweaty place. Milk production falls when it is very hot, the pastures struggle with hot and dry and the cows must be fed stored feed. We welcomed the break in the heat a few weeks ago but the drought continued until last weekend. Four inches fell on the farm and gardens, the plants and weeds grew overnight, the pond refilled and the frogs are happy. The pastures have new growth from the rain and cooler temperatures.

The summer vegetables are coming in-cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, summer squash, basil, tomatoes, carrots, new potatoes and parsley. Our corn is very close to harvest and melons and onions are growing bigger everyday. While harvesting the summer vegetables we are planting the fall vegetables and seeding the crops to be harvested in September and October. All our cover crops which add to soil health and structure growing in next years beds. We plant oats, buckwheat, field peas, crimson clover, and hairy vetch.

We had a burst of new calves over the last 7 weeks. Royal and Lord Dellamere are the only bull calves and are now steers. The heifers include Debbie, Wrangler Jean, Pixie and Oasis. Lauren, the heifer has moved into a bigger pen before she gets weaned. The calves from March-Willow, Olive, Zakia and Button are ready to graduate to the pack barn. Olive, Button and Zakia are 4-H animals and will be going to the Cornish Fair August 16th to 19th. They are part of our show string of 23 jerseys and 1 Holstein.

We went to the central and south Vermont dairy show where the cows did very well. Highlights include senior and grand champion Holstein and senior champion jersey who was crowned supreme cow. The 4-H kids worked very hard and took care and showed all 17 animals by themselves from milking to feeding to show. Them were awarded the first place herdsmanship award for their attend to their barn, animals, the public and fellow club members.

Maeve the heifer was sold in the National Heifer sale and was purchased by ST Genetics. She will have a career moving the jersey genetic base forward.

It is always hard to sell heifers but we are grateful to the staff of the jersey association to find buyers from across the US for our animals. As fall approaches we will be looking at which cows stay in the barn for the winter, who will get retired to the freezer, who will be sold in the fancy fall jersey sales and who will be the next generation on the farm. A cow has to pay her way on the farm. As the dairy farm economic crisis continues with cost of production to produce a gallon of milk versus revenue leaves very little money for anything, and cow prices fall. This means the average commercial will sell for less than it cost to raise her. More cows are sent to slaughter and the beef prices tumble. It is hard to see this at the grocery store. There is still money in the fancy, fancy stuff like the top selling National Heifer at 71K. More and more dairy farms are going out of business or selling off the cows and farming something else. Farmer suicides are very high. We know farmers in the Upper Valley who have loaded their life's work onto a trailer.

As a consumer and friend of agriculture consider buying American grown crops, stop by a farm stand or get involved at the county or state level in changing farm policy. Farms of all sizes are suffering. The government safety nets are very small and those farmers that signed up for programs like MPP dairy are losing less money than those who did not. If you wonder how a farm is doing, stop by and ask the farmers.

Kerry

Posted 7/31/2018 4:17pm by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members and farm friends,

We are participating in Vermont's Open Farm week. We invite you to visit the farm on Wednesday August 15th from 4-7PM. Taco's Taco truck will be selling tacos made with our beef, Cobb Hill Frozen Yogurt will be selling sampling frozen yogurt and the 4H kids will be sampling our cheeses. We have draft horse demonstrations, farm animals to visit, cows to pet, watch the cows being milked or try you hand at milking "Elsie" our life size model cow. There will be guided tours of the many Cobb Hill home gardens and mushroom grotto. RSVP to help the Taco truck bring enough food. Bring a blanket to sit on to enjoy a picnic dinner.

Kerry,

for the farm crew

Posted 7/16/2018 11:16am by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members,

If the weather is wild tomorrow we will have the pick-up Wednesday.

Kerry

Posted 7/2/2018 2:48am by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members,

With the high temperatures predicted for tomorrow can you let me know what time you will be coming for your CSA share? Or you can choose to get a double share next week if you are going away for the the 4th of July holiday. We are excited to announce that Alexandra, our marketer from last year will be returning. She has a newborn so will not be on site tomorrow.

This will help reduce the amount of time in the hot sun tomorrow afternoon.

Thanks,

Kerry

 

Posted 6/28/2018 2:48am by Kerry Gawalt.

Good morning,

It looks like it will be very wet at the market today. Do you know when you are coming by the market? Or you can stop by the farm.

Thanks,

Kerry

Posted 6/10/2018 3:20pm by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members,

The DHMC pick up starts this Tuesday. Virginia, our marketer will be on site outside the Norris Cotton entrance. She will be there from 3-5:30PM. If you cannot make it just let us know before Tuesday and you can get you share at the farm. For those who signed up for the ominvore share, there will be lots of beef to choose from each week. If you want to take a double meat share one week you can skip the following week. We stock a bunch of cuts but let us know if you want to request certain cuts.

Kerry

Posted 6/10/2018 3:15pm by Kerry Gawalt.
June 10, 201 8 Dear CSA members and farm friends, The farm life continues to be very full. The garden is filling up with transplants and seeded vegetables. The month of May has been very dry. We have been using our new irrigation system to keep all the plants watered. Each crop wants about 1 inch of water each week. The irrigation can deliver that in 4 hours per section. We can run 10 water efficient sprinklers at one time. Each sprinkler covers a 90 foot circle and uses 4.89 gallons of water per minute. We figure we use 3,000 gallons per hour to water. So in a 4 hour period we can water ½ an acre. The pond has been recharging from the natural springs, the developed cow water spring and our drilled well. You can watch the plants grow overnight with enough water and the heat. The cows still have plenty of grass to eat as the deep-rooted grasses are holding up for the moment. We have had two calves born in the last 2 weeks. Lucerne gave birth to Lauren, her 4th calf and 3rd daughter. Rose our 2nd oldest cow had baby number 7 at 10:30 on Thursday night. Rose had a stalled labor and needed help to get her cervix to dilate. Cows due well most of the time but do need regular checks and intervention if needed. She delivered a healthy bull calf with some assistance. She had a special diet as a dry cow but jersey plus old cow plus high producing cow can lead to milk fever. This metabolic disease happens when a cow has a hard time managing her blood calcium. Normally cows eat then the calcium goes into the bones and is pulled out of the bones and goes into the milk. A cow with milk fever has a break in this process. The cow will not magically cure herself. Calcium control muscle movement, as the calcium level drops she stops eating, her ears get cold, she will get shaky and will eventually die of respiratory failure without intervention. The best plan is to manage her diet as a dry cow. If she still gets milk fever we give the cow an IV of a calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and dextrose. It is administered slowly so the cow does not die of a heart attack. Given too quickly the cow will drop like a stone. The is an amazing treatment, the cow usually feels better shortly. With proper follow up care, she will be on her way back to normal. The old saying is a down cow is a dead cow. Once a cow cannot get up her muscles start to break down and a downward spiral starts. All the care of healthy and sick cows are based on written protocols with we have with our vet Dr. Patch. She has been taking care our cows for 20 years. Rose we can report is doing well and on the road to recovery. Back in the garden we have repaired our high tunnel greenhouse and will be filling it up this week. The farmers markets and summer CSA shares start this week. We will be at DHMC and the Lebanon Farmers Market. As many of you may be reading in the paper or hearing on the news, dairy farms of all sizes are struggling with below cost of production milk prices. We are asked many times, “why are you doing so many things?” The answer is being diverse. We process about half of our milk into cheese, which gives us a better price for the milk. We sell composted cow manure. We grow vegetables. We sell beef. We raise and sell registered Jersey heifers and bulls. We will have registered Holstein heifers down the road. We host school kids. All these pieces support the whole and keep us busy, sometimes too busy. With 3 cows to calve on the 17th, The Billings Farm Dairy Show, hay and the last big push of vegetable transplanting, it is time to get ready for another busy week.
Posted 5/30/2018 2:52am by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members,

The first week of Summer CSA pick-ups starts in 2 weeks. For DHMC members the day is Tuesday June 12th from 3-5:30 PM. For the Hartland members the day is Wednesday June 13th from 12 to 9PM. Upper Valley Food Coop members the day is Wednesday June 13th from 3 to 8PM. The Lebanon Farmers Market is Thursday June 14th from 4-7PM. If you are away please email the farm by Monday morning. You can choose a different location for that week or get a double share the following week.

Kerry

Posted 5/22/2018 5:07pm by Kerry Gawalt.
Dear CSA members and farm friends,                 The last few weeks on the farm have been very busy. The month started out with the fjord horses being invited to the Billings Farm draft animal field day. We brought our 1913 Syracuse riding plow and the horses plowed up a section for the public to watch. The horses made it on the front page of the Vermont Standard. The Hartland Cattle Club 4H members served soup and made grilled cheese sandwiches for the visitors. They are fundraising for the fairs and other public out reach events. The cold, wet spring slowed down field work and pasture growth. The cows had their first bites of grass on May 10th. This is 2 weeks later than last year, but not the latest ever which was May 16th. The first week the cows go out by day and come to the barn for hay at night. It takes a week for their rumens to adjust to grass versus dry hay. They are now out day and night. They get a fresh paddock of grass every day. This means their fence is move each morning. The process can take 45 minutes to an hour. The grain the cows eat is matched to the grasses to give them a balanced diet. The big steers and bred heifers go out with the milking cows. The baby calves, young heifers and steers and our dry cows (very pregnant, on maternity leave mamas) stay at the barn.       The garden has been waking up. The fields have had composted cow manure spread on them. We take soil tests in the fall to determine how much compost to spread where. Different crops have different nutrient needs. Many of the beds are spread in the fall so we can get them planted early. The horses will disc in the compost, harrow the soil, roll the section and mark the rows. Each of these processes can take a couple hours. Some days one team of horses will do half the jobs and the other will finish in the afternoon. The first section we planted this year were the potatoes. We followed quickly with peas, all the greenhouse babies, lettuce, green beans, carrots, beets, and onion transplants. Our onions are started from seed in the greenhouse in early March. We transplanted 7000 onions plants over the last few weeks. In the heated greenhouse all the peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, melons, summer squash, winter squash, and pumpkins are waiting to go out. The weather is looking promising for next week.                 We installed a new watering system last fall for the garden. We have a pond dug by our neighbor Matt Dow. It is a naturally lined pond made with the materials on site. It is 70 feet across and holds 150,000 gallons of water. This means we can water the entire garden each week if it does not rain. The pond is fed by a spring and has been recharging nicely. We are using a mix of aluminum pipe with sprinklers for overhead watering and drip irrigation. We the flexibility to adjust the watering methods to the crop and cultivation needs.                 Each day and week has highs and lows. Last week I heard that a cow we sold finally gave the young man a long- awaited heifer calf. This happened at the same time our of our cows aborted her heifer calf halfway to term. The calf at that stage is the size of a cat. This means the cow will have to wait another year for a calf. If the cow is a special animal, is making a decent amount of milk and has good genetics she can stay. Cows have to support themselves and their humans. So as the summer goes on we will see if Bessie the cow going to get pregnant and stay for another year or retire to the freezer this winter. Maisy the farm dog caught her first woodchuck of the year this morning. She takes her job seriously as a ratter and woodchuck hunter. She will make sure the garden stays woodchuck free this year.  
Posted 5/1/2018 3:56pm by Kerry Gawalt.

Dear CSA members and Farm friends,

Here is our newsletter for the first week of the new CSA season. Thank you Tracie Hoying for the farm newsletter template and brochure.

Kerry

FILE: (CedarMountain_Newsletter_5.1.1018.pdf)

FILE: (CedarMountain_TriFold.pdf)