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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call for film submissions

photo credit – Nino Rocha

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 pgboger@gmail.com 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.

 


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heritage grass discovered in wisconsin

EPSON DSC picture

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.

To read more, click HERE!


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farmer training in wisconsin!

 

8681760661_546ab52155Since 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


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think you know what a farmer looks like?

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.
Lindsay Morris Carpenter
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! 

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reminder: moses new farmer summit

New Farmer Summit
April 4-5, 2014photo
Primrose Valley FarmBelleville, Wisconsin (near New Glarus & Madison)

Two full days of workshops, networking, hands-on learning, organic food and fun!

  • 24 workshops focused on issues on the minds of new farmers
  • $75 (includes meals and entertainment)
  • Scholarships available! Apply here.
  • $35 Pre-Summit farm tours with lunch April 3rd
  • Friday evening dance with live folk music and a caller
  • Click here to register!

Much more information can be found HERE