Life and Death on the Farm

By on Apr 23, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

“Do you process your cows on your farm?” The answer is, “Not if I want to sell the meat.” All meat we sell has to be processed at a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) inspected facility. The critter has to walk, not be carried, into the processing facility and must be observed by a USDA inspector before it is processed. We have processed cattle on our farm but, by USDA law, we cannot sell that meat. We can eat it ourselves but we can’t sell it. The USDA is a branch of the US Government and is run by the Secretary of Agriculture who sits on the US President’s Cabinet. USDA was started in 1862 by President Lincoln and has helped farms for over 150 years. Most farmers I know have received financial help from the USDA and it is possible many farms are in business today because of help from the USDA. From my perspective, the USDA is a good organization. I’m not...

Counting Cows Makes Me Sleepy

By on Apr 10, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

“How many cows do you have,” is a seemingly easy question I get all the time. In order to know how many cows I have, I have to count them. That is the challenge. When I run into a Utah or Texas rancher they immediately tell me they have 3,000 or 10,000 head or even 30,000 head of cattle. My next question is, “How do you count them?” My herd fluctuates between 50 and 70 head of cattle. I keep a board with the cattle names and locations but, the thing is, the numbers change all the time. Calves are born, cattle are sold, some are shipped for processing, I buy some. The herd numbers are constantly changing. We have over fifty head of cattle but pasture nineteen pregnant cows together so we can keep an eye on them. Giving birth is the most dangerous time for a cow. Most births are easy and don’t need human assistance but occasionally the mom needs help. With all the expectant moms in...

N.H. dairy farms deal with threat of labor deportations

By on Mar 28, 2017 in Stories | 0 comments

Their long hours of milking, cleaning the parlor, breeding cows and herding the animals are an essential part of how milk makes it into New Hampshire’s grocery stores. But those farm laborers – often immigrants with forged or expired documents – are worried about doing their own shopping at the supermarket these days for fear of deportation. Farmers here and across the country are concerned about losing their workers, too, as the dairy community waits to see to what extent President Donald Trump’s immigration executive orders will be carried out. The looming threat of widespread deportation isn’t necessarily what New Hampshire farmers expected from Trump, said Dave Chappelle, a Vermont and New Hampshire labor management consultant for dairy farms. “I have been to farms in New Hampshire where I have gone to talk to the Hispanic employee, who the owner knows probably doesn’t have the...

Good Fences

By on Mar 26, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

When you get a call from a neighbor at 5:30 in the morning it’s probably not a social call. Whenever I get an early morning call it’s usually because my cattle, pigs or horses are roaming the neighborhood. I don’t ignore those calls. Robert Frost wrote, “Good fences make good neighbors.” They also keep cattle and pigs out of the garden and off the highway. No matter how often we repair the two strands of electric wire that surrounds our 36-acre farm the work never ends. Fallen trees take down the wire and heavy snow shorts out the electricity that zap our livestock if they touch the wire. The electrical charge is not strong, I know because I’ve been zapped many times, by accident. Sometimes I get zapped because my husband, Bruce, says, “Don’t worry, that fence has no charge.” Right. The funny thing is that if you are not grounded you won’t get...

Amended dairy farmers relief bill heads back to Senate

By on Mar 24, 2017 in Stories | 0 comments

Dairy farmer relief funding is one step away from Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk. Despite some legislators’ opposition to the idea of a “bailout” for one industry and not others, the House approved $2 million in funding for drought-affected dairy farmers, 257-96. Since it passed with an amendment Thursday, it will head back to the Senate, which passed the original version 19-3 last month. The bill has come almost full circle after legislators approved the floor amendment proposed by dairy task force member Rep. Neal Kurk. He suggested a formula, and not an evenly divided $2 million appropriation, to be used to distribute funds. Kurk’s amendment now institutes a mechanism assessing each of the state’s 115 dairy farmers, their feed losses and their resulting milk production due to the 2016 drought. The formula also takes into account federal funding a dairy farmer may receive to avoid what...

Meet one of the originators of New Hampshire Maple Weekend

By on Mar 23, 2017 in Food To Do, Stories | 0 comments

On Thursday morning, I drove into Barbara and Don Lassonde’s driveway to see Barbara tacking a poster to the side of the sugar house. It was only appropriate that the man depicted in the poster, wearing a green full-body jumpsuit and pouring sap into an evaporator, looked an awful lot like Don. He’s married to the woman who helped begin the advertised event – the Kearsarge Maple Festival – as well as the statewide New Hampshire Maple Weekend. The Lassondes began sugaring in 1972 at their Fisherville Road house in Concord as a hobby – they had a maple tree in the yard, Barbara told me, and both wanted to do it after seeing their New England relatives sugar. “My uncle had 1,500 buckets,” Don said. “Can you imagine washing those at the end of the season?” Once they began their own operation, Don said it was handy that they lived near a fire station. “If we had too much smoke from the...

Pigs and Beer

By on Mar 19, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

What do beer and pigs have in common? If you said, “Beer drinking pigs,” you might be right. I have seen pigs and other livestock drink beer but that is not what I had in mind. Depending on the taste, different types of grains are used to make beer. Mashing is a step in the brewing process that combines grain with hot water to convert complex starches into simple sugars. After about an hour of brewing, the grain is drained and rinsed to extract sugars. That’s what the brewer wants: sugars, which is the starting place for fermentation. Left behind is the starchy grain. Because the grain has been brewed it’s called “spent grain,” or “brewer’s grain,” and can be an excellent feed for everything from pigs to chickens. Because Miles Smith Farm cattle are grass fed we don’t feed the cows spent grain but our pigs are another story. Pigs are omnivores with digestive systems...

Do you milk your cows?

By on Mar 13, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

The two-day-old bull calf was weak and not interested in nursing on his mother, a black Scottish Highlander cow. The mother cow’s teats were too large for this little fellow to get in his mouth. If we didn’t do something, he would starve. Scottish Highlanders are beef cattle that produce just enough milk to nourish their calves. Beef cattle are, well, beefy with backs and butts that are well muscled to produce steaks and roasts. A good beef cow has small udders which are easy for baby calves to nurse on. On the other hand, dairy cows are bred to produce milk, not beef. The back of a dairy cow might look thin but their udders, where the milk is, are typically large. Large udders on a dairy cow are a bonus and can mean good milk production. Large udders on a beef cow can be a problem which was the case with Flash, the bull calf who wasn’t nursing. Most beef cattle are...