The 5th annual perennial farm gathering is coming up! Farmers, scientists, and people with a general interest in perennial crops and pastured livestock will all find it valuable to learn what other farmers are doing, what’s working well, and what needs more work.
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. Continue reading →
Tales from Planet Earth, an environmental themed film fesitival, is looking for submissions to the upcoming 2017 event in Madison.
The theme for this years festival is ‘Land’! Does that resonate with you?
“Standing Rock. Idle No More. The Landless Worker’s Movement. Across the globe, land dispossession—both past and present—is bringing together new alliances and collective actions in the struggle for the rights and sovereignty of local peoples to determine their own futures. The 6th biennial Tales from Planet Earth will showcase stories that inform, challenge, and inspire audiences to rethink relationships to land in an era where greed, corruption, and resource demands are swallowing up ancestral and customary lands, severing cultural traditions rooted in the earth, and threatening the livelihoods, sovereignty, and self-determination of communities throughout the world.”
Filmmakers interested in having films considered for the festival should email the festival project manager, Peter Boger, at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than May 1st with a brief synopsis of their film and any other relevant information. We will follow up if we are interested in viewing a screener of the film to consider for the festival program.
A forgotten forage grass imported from Europe in the 1800s could soon begin to help boost cattle and dairy production in parts of the Upper Midwest. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists in Madison, Wisconsin, recently released the grass for commercial production.
The grass, named “Hidden Valley,” was discovered on a farmer’s shaded hilltop in a long-time pasture that had never been seeded with commercial forages. Cattle thrived on the grass, and it gradually spread from the hilltop into gullies and open areas. The farmer fed hay made from the grass to more cattle and spread the seeds in the manure. He also eventually began consulting with Michael Casler, a plant geneticist with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service(ARS).
Casler and his colleagues at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center spent more than a decade evaluating Hidden Valley, named for the farm where it was discovered. They found that cattle digest it more easily and eat more of it than other forages, thus gaining more weight when it’s available and producing more milk.
DNA tests show that the grass is a meadow fescue that has adapted to the Upper Mississippi River Basin since its arrival in the 1800s. It is drought tolerant and will survive freezing temperatures and repeated grazing. Surveys of the Upper Midwest “Driftless Region,” which includes parts of Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota, show that the grass can be found in a wide range of habitats. It also grows well on land taken out of crop production and allowed to revert to pasture.
Since 2005 Stateline Farm Beginnings has been cultivating a new generation of farmers in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Stateline Farm Beginnings is a one year training course sponsored by Angelic Organics Learning Center. It is a farmer-led training and support program designed to help people plan and launch sustainable farm businesses. Enrollment for this winter closes October 1st! Learn more about the program and how to apply at: http://www.learngrowconnect.org/farmer
Preliminary results from the 2012 Census of Agriculture show the increasing role of women in U.S. agriculture—especially on organic and small-scale farms.
When Lindsey Morris Carpenter was a college student studying art in Philadelphia, she never expected that, just a decade later, she would spend most of her days fixing up tractors, turning piles of manure, and corralling chickens.
formatting won’t work
Today, Carpenter’s certified-organic operation, Grassroots Farm, grows fruit, vegetables, hops, and herbs; she also sells pesticide-free cut flowers and eggs from the farm’s chickens. Being as environmentally sustainable as possible is paramount to Grassroots’ operations, Carpenter says. So, too, is a commitment to provide healthy, fresh food to local people regardless of the size of their bank accounts.
“One of my biggest priorities is affordability,” Carpenter said. She doesn’t want to be the Whole Foods of farm-to-table produce. To that end, she designed her community supported agriculture program to be relatively affordable. She charges only $25 a week for a box of produce, which she offers 16 weeks out of the year.
Carpenter is one of America’s new and growing class of women farmers. Her focus on sustainability and social justice represent part of the promise women bring to the sector, while the difficulties she faces demonstrate some of the challenges that stand in their way.—-> Click to read more!
La Crosse, Wis.
Feb. 27 – Mar. 1, 2014
The MOSES Conference, started 25 years ago with 90 people who wanted to learn more about farming organically, has grown to become the country’s foremost educational and networking event for the organic community. The people involved in organic and sustainable farming tend to be passionate about food and farming, which makes for a truly inspiring event. Please join us in celebrating the 25th anniversary of this remarkable gathering!
Check out this video of the rally held in Madison, WI on Sat. Aug. 10th against Fast Track and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is the “mother” of all free trade agreements. Yikes!! Several hundred people attended.
The Community Initiatives in Sustainable Agriculture Conference (CISA) will take place April 5-7, 2013 at Lawrence University and Riverview Gardens in Appleton, WI.
Our mission is to provide the necessary community, resources, and experience to establish and support new farmers. We will provide a venue for young people to engage in conversations and educational activities. Featuring farmer panels, workshops, open space discussions, local food dinner and dance, and more! For more information and to register, please visit http://communityfarmincubator.org/gather.
The Farm Beginnings Collaborative will host an evening Shindig on Friday, February 22nd. Farm Beginnings® is a Land Stewardship Project (LSP) initiative that provides participants a wide range of opportunities to learn firsthand about low-cost, sustainable methods of farming. Launched in 1997, Farm Beginnings is a farmer-led, community based training and support program aimed at getting more farmers on the land farming sustainably.
Anyone who is interested in how Farm Beginnings can help them start their farm business is welcome to attend and network with Farm Beginnings graduates, instructors and service providers.
Sarah and Evan at Dog Song Farm in Amery, Wisconsin seek an apprentice/intern for the 2013 season.
We request a minimum commitment of April 1st through October 1st. In 2013 we will raise meat (beef, lamb, chicken and possibly goose), eggs, honey, and vegetables for a 30 member CSA and local farmers’ market. We are also planting strawberries, asparagus and garlic this year as well as prepping for a future 4 acre apple and pear orchard. Our 40 acre farm will be transitioning to Biodynamic. A neighboring farm, where we’ll be growing much of the veg for CSA, is certified organic. We also preserve our own food, including but certainly not limited to making cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, and canning, freezing, dehydrating, etc.
Interns will assist with/learn about the following:
– All aspects of CSA fruit/veg production: Planning successive sowings, spring greenhouse/seed starts, transplanting, cultivating, irrigation, harvest, post-harvest handling, packing. Continue reading →
Equinox Community Farm is currently accepting internship applications for the 2013 growing season. Equinox Community Farm is a small market farm and CSA located in Waunakee, WI just a twenty minute drive from downtown Madison.
We raise a wide variety of vegetables as well as a number of herbs, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries. We will have approximately ten acres under cultivation during the 2013 growing season including land devoted to cover crops.
Our farm is Certified Naturally Grown and we are currently in organic transition. We keep about 30 laying hens, raise heritage breed pastured pork, have several meat goats, and make maple syrup. Our primary market for our produce is our CSA which will have approximately 125 shares this season; we also sell at a market in Madison. Interns will be involved with all aspects of production including greenhouse work, planting, transplanting, cultivation & weeding, harvesting, washing & packing, and working at the Farmer’s Market. Continue reading →