the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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the shortage of livestock veterinarians is reaching “crisis levels”

The_farmer's_veterinarian_BHL20172818

Even after the lamb comes, the ewe continues to strain. Sticky with afterbirth, the ram lamb calls to his mother in quavering tenor, but though she lifts her head in his direction and lets out a low moan of response, her heaving sides won’t let her rise and go to him.

In the compounded darkness of the manger—it’s well after sunset—it’s hard to see what’s happening. The ewe stretches a hind leg in effort, and then again, and again, pushing. She stops her rhythmic movement, breath ragged. Someone shines a light: there is something there, behind her hind legs, on the straw. A second lamb? The thing is dark, darker than the first lamb. A black lamb? But no, it glistens too strangely in the odd glare/shadow contrast of the flashlight.

“I—I think that’s part of her body.” What? “I think those are her organs.” 

The stillness breaks. The livestock manager is called. “Prolapse,” “iodine,” “warm water,” “towels.” There is a flurry of activity in service to these words. The rumble of a truck announces the arrival of Josh, the livestock manager, from down the road. He clicks his headlamp on to peer at the lumpen tangle between the prostrate ewe’s legs. “That’s her uterus,” he says, and walks away to call the vet.

He returns shaking his head. The vet can’t come for two hours—there’s another emergency, over the border in Vermont. “I guess I’ll try to put it back, but I’ve never had much luck.”

Josh instructs someone to fetch sugar, someone to fetch a better light, someone to prepare a bottle of colostrum for the new lamb (“He’s huge, look how huge he is! That must be what did it”). He sloshes iodine up to his elbows while two people hold the ewe still. Gingerly, he lifts the uterus from ground, pulling off bits of straw and hay. He pours sugar over it. “The vet says this will make it shrink, so that it will fit,” he tells us. Then in a low mutter, to himself, “This was my favorite sheep.”

After a few moments, he begins trying to push the uterus back into the ewe. But even gritty with sugar, reverse-osmosis starting to drain the fluid, it’s slippery and swollen, bulging any place where Josh’s hands can’t stretch, the task like trying to fit a water ballon into the tap from which it was filled. “She’s pushing against me,” he says. “Her body thinks she’s having a lamb.”

He keeps trying: adding more sugar, repositioning, applying prolonged pressure, but it won’t go. Josh sits back on his heels. There’s nothing to do but wait for the vet.
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new institute focused on nation’s soil health

To ensure that soil continues to be a vital natural resource for generations to come, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and Farm Foundation, NFP, today announce the formation of the Soil Health Institute. The announcement coincides with World Soil Day (Dec. 5) and celebrates the 2015 International Year of Soils.

The Soil Health Institute’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of the soil. It will work directly with conventional and organic farmers and ranchers, public- and private-sector researchers, academia, policymakers, government agencies, industry, environmental groups and consumers–everyone who benefits from healthy soils.

The organization will serve as the primary resource for soil health information, working to set soil health standards and measurement, build knowledge about the economics of soil health, offer educational programs, and coordinate research in all aspects of soil and soil health.

For more information, click HERE.


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action alert: protect small farmers and food producers from FSMA regulations

You might not know it, but a legislative battle is being waged over who can produce food, where they can sell it, and when the government can shut them down. The most recent incarnation of this is a modification to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that will make it possible for the FDA to force small food producers to comply with complex and costly regulations. Thankfully, the Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance (FRFA) is organizing a push-back against these regulations that will make small food producers vulnerable to capricious government agencies, and, ultimately, harm the diversity of the food on the market.small family farm

Here is the Call to Action by the FRFA:

“We fought hard for the Tester-Hagan amendment to exempt small-scale, direct-marketing farms and artisan food producers from the most burdensome aspects of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This exemption is essential to the continued vitality of the local foods movement.

“Now the FDA is proposing rules that would make it very easy for the agency to force even small-scale farmers to comply with the onerous FSMA regulations, and all but impossible for these vulnerable farmers to protect themselves. Continue reading


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horticulture position in oklahoma

The Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Poteau, Oklahoma, is now accepting applications for the position of Horticulture Program Assistant.  The Kerr Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational foundation.IMG_0010

Position Description:
· The horticulture program assistant is primarily responsible for supporting and contributing to the development of the horticulture and intern programs.

· The horticultural program focuses on organic systems with specific emphasis on cover crops, rotations, compost, and biochar demonstrations.   In addition, the horticulture program may include heirloom vegetable evaluations, season extension, and related activities.

· The intern program provides on-site experiential opportunities, primarily for college-age students with interest in sustainability. Continue reading