Life and Death on the Farm

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

“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...

N.H. food stamp bill retained until next year

By on Apr 20, 2017 in Stories |

Senate Bill 7, often referred to as the “food stamp bill,” may eventually lose the food stamp component altogether. But it will have to wait until next year after a House committee voted to retain the bill Tuesday. Some members that did so called the efforts to cut down assistance for New Hampshire’s food-insecure “unconscionable.” “I think the bill needs work,” said Wolfeboro Republican Rep. William Marsh, a member of the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee. “We all recognize that and we’re not capable of doing that in a short period of time.” The bill was originally introduced by Nashua Republican Sen. Kevin Avard as a measure to tighten eligibility limits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Among the proposals were discontinuing the waiver of federal work requirements, reducing income limits for applicants and stipulating that child support...

Goat to the mat: Yoga with Goats class kids around on N.H. farm

By on Apr 18, 2017 in Stories |

Janine Bibeau’s yoga class at Jenness Farm is generally like any other: soothing music in the background, a neat arrangement of long mats on the floor, lots of spandex. Then the gobble! gobble! of Cricket the turkey comes floating through the window. Chickens peek through the farm shop’s glass-paned doors, and inside, bleating and the clomp sound of hooves on the wood floor regularly interrupt Bibeau’s instructions. And of course, there’s the tribe of baby goats standing on people’s bent backs. “Yoga with Goats” has become an internet sensation since the Nottingham goat dairy first tried it out several weeks ago. The farm said its Facebook page jumped from about 5,000 likes to 35,000 in less than a week, and as of Tuesday, it had more than 47,000 likes. Classes don’t officially begin until May, but after posting videos and media coverage of the few “guinea pig” sessions so far, farm...

Counting Cows Makes Me Sleepy

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

“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...

Can America’s documented, foreign guest worker program keep up with demand?

By on Mar 31, 2017 in Stories |

It’s a hot job. They sweat beneath an early autumn sun, lugging a ladder from tree to tree, gathering as many apples as can fit into a bucket. Container full, they unclip the bucket’s cloth bottom to empty the fruit into a large, wooden crate on the back of a tractor. Then they start all over again. This is how Jamaican pickers spend their days at Apple Hill Farm in Concord each September. They’ve worked for farmers Chuck and Diane Souther for decades as federally approved foreign-born laborers coming to the U.S. through the H-2A temporary agricultural labor certification program. Contrary to the undocumented workers who often use forged or expired documents to land employment at year-round operations like dairy farms, these seasonal, authorized workers may have the support of the President Donald Trump’s administration. A purported leaked federal memo appears to support temporary...

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

By on Mar 28, 2017 in Stories |

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 |

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 |

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...