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farm newsletter June 10th

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.