Keeping up with changes: Loudon farm does first boil thanks to early, big sap run

By on Jan 27, 2017 in Stories | 0 comments

The Moore family may not be big on the term “climate change.” But the Loudon farmers have seen changes in the maple season, invasive species and forest regeneration over time. And they’re learning everything they can to adapt. This year, for instance, has brought an extended January thaw. And while it’s normal for a day or two to be significantly warmer than usual this time of year, temperatures that sometimes touch 50 degrees for a week and a half is unusual. “It’s not just a little sap run,” 28-year-old Jeff Moore said. In response, Jeff, his 26-year-old brother, Brad, and their father, Larry, all bustled around the Windswept Maples Farm sugar shack Thursday to get their evaporator up and running. They boiled about 6,000 gallons of sap collected over the previous week in a network of taps, tubing and holding containers. By the wee hours of Friday morning, they had 125 gallons of...

How organic farming is growing, if slowly, in New Hampshire

By on Jan 27, 2017 in Stories | 0 comments

Generally speaking, New Hampshire is a little behind the curve when it comes to organic farming. Compared with Vermont and Maine, Granite State organic growers are fewer and farther between. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Organic Integrity Database shows 147 operations in New Hampshire have been certified since 2002, when national certification began. Vermont, a state with less than half the population of New Hampshire, boasts 724 certified organic farms. Maine, which is more comparable to New Hampshire in population but larger in size, has 545 certified organic farms. Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire (NOFA-NH) staffer Monica Rico said that’s changing, albeit slowly. “I think we have a growing movement with organic farming in New Hampshire,” she said. The data would seem to support that: There’s been a spike in certifications the past two years, on top of...

$2 million proposed in funding for dairy relief bill

By on Jan 25, 2017 in Stories | 1 comment

Dairy farmers are officially on the 2017 legislative docket. Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley presented a relief funding bill to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday. “It’s hard to imagine drought after all the moisture we’ve had over the last couple months,” Bradley said. But he added that after a lack of rain, a shortage in forage crops and a second year of dropping milk prices, “dairy farmers and their herds were totally adversely affected.” State dairy licensing and permitting data show that for more than 10 months in 2016, New Hampshire’s 123 farms shipping milk were reduced to 115. On Tuesday, Bradley brought with him an amendment to the bill, proposing to simplify the process and appropriate $2 million to be divided among licensed milk producers. The original version of the bill, written in large part by Weare Republican and Dairy Farmers Task Force...

Dances with Weather, Winter Weather

By on Jan 22, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 2 comments

It was going to be a cold night so Bruce and I had to work fast. Temperatures had been in the 40s and 50s for a few days and all the manure and water that was previously frozen had thawed to sea of six-inch muck. If we waited the muck would freeze solid, impossible to clear away. Winter farming is a dance with weather that changes from day to day. Freezing temperatures turn boot-sucking mud into a solid surface; slippery and hard to walk on. A mini heat wave in winter can turn frozen surfaces into muck especially where there is manure.  As soon as it turns warm the manure melts. Cattle standing in the muck makes it worse.  We call these problem spots, “loafing areas.” Clean loafing areas are important to cattle health. If cattle lie down in the muck they’ll get wet and cold. Besides animal health, there is another reason to keep cattle areas clean; food for human...

What does it take to Train a Four Year Old?

By on Jan 14, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

All four feet were off the ground as the thousand-pound steer leapt into the air. I didn’t think a steer could jump so high but Stash was definitely airborne just to avoid stepping on a stone boat lying still on the ground. Stash is a four-year-old Scottish Highlander steer I was training for his new job as an oxen. Four years is old to start training a steer to work in a yoke. Usually, I start my teams at six months or younger. It is far easier to correct a two hundred pound critter than a full grown steer who has his own way of doing things. Young steers think of their trainer as an older, wiser cow and typically learn commands quickly. As they get older they start thinking for themselves and it can be hard to train them. You know the saying, “Can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” I started my first team on Miles Smith Farm at six months old. Topper and Flash were...

Escaped Calves and Fencing Woes

By on Jan 12, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

The scrap bucket was empty and the feed bunker a mess. Who had done this? Who would trash the hay and steal the pig food? This was clearly the work of the delinquents; Rowdy and Hemingway. With snow on the ground, it is very hard to keep a strong charge in the 10+ miles of electric fence that separate the pastures on our farm. At Miles Smith Farm we try to keep a good charge in the pig fencing and make sure the bull’s fence is charged but it is almost impossible to keep all the other fences fully charged. For the most part, the cattle respect the fence wires, even if there is little to no charge in them. The babies, not so much. Rowdy is a seven-month-old calf and Hemingway is two months old. Both are Scottish Highlanders and are buddies. They hang out together, play together and escape together. The weakest charge in the fence is in the gates. Each calf ducks under the wire gate...

Gully Hill land: Agriculture or athletic fields?

By on Jan 11, 2017 in Stories | 0 comments

Farmland, athletic fields, a festival space or an ecological park? The Gully Hill Conservation Easement Committee is weighing all of its options as it decides the fate of one Concord parcel of land. “I would say at least probably it needs to be used for open space,” Concord Conservation Committee vice chairman James Owers said. He added that given the 114 acres acquired using conservation commission funds, the city is legally obligated to stay within certain uses. But what “open space” really means was up for debate Tuesday night. Some Gully Hill committee members thought the land off Loudon Road along the Merrimack River should be reserved for agriculture and “passive recreation” like hiking, skiing, walking and bird watching. Others proposed more active recreational use, like another White Park. The 69 acres of fields, bordered by wetlands and wooded areas, have long been in...

Farmers Helping Farmers

By on Jan 8, 2017 in Carole's Corner | 0 comments

Do you know any farmers that “work out?” If you think I mean going to the gym, you’re wrong. An old Yankee Farmer once told me that as a boy he lived with his grandfather and worked the farm. But when he became an adult he had to get an “off farm job” or “work out” to keep the farm going. “Work out” was the farmer’s term for having an off-farm job with a regular income. Today lots of farmers “work out.” They have off farm jobs to keep their farm from becoming house lots. Farming has never been a “sure thing” with a regular income. Because of the movement to support local farmers and buy their products farming is improving slightly. But then there are 99.9% of food eaters who don’t buy locally. It takes a lot of work to reach this 99.9% to help the see the advantages of supporting local farms. One way to let the 99.9% know why it’s important to buy locally raised...