Every Day is Earth Day at Fairmont

More than one billion people will celebrate Earth Day all around the world on April 22. Here in Vermont on our dairy farm we treat every day like Earth Day.

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On a dairy farm we do not differentiate between weekdays, weekends, holidays, or even night and day…our farm operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and we always celebrate our land.  We are thankful for the food it brings our cows and we continue to look for ways we can work to improve our natural resources.

Our mission at Fairmont Farm is to be a profitable dairy farm with the utmost consideration for the safety and happiness of our people, the cleanliness of our environment and the health of our animals.

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We care about our animals and the environment tremendously, we would not be able to farm without them!  For our farm to be sustainable, and continue to farm into the future, we make being responsible stewards of our land and animals part of our mission.

We are responsible for over 3,600 acres of land which is used to plant and harvest corn and hay to feed our cows. We have worked with the Vermont Land Trust and currently own 1,675 acres of conserved land, however the best way to preserve land is to keep farms in business – our farm fields cover East Montpelier, Plainfield, Marshfield, Barre, Berlin, Calais, Montpelier, Craftsbury, Glover, Greensboro, and South Albany.

 

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Our cows feed is about 60% forages that we grow ourselves (a combination of corn and hay)!

Soil health is crucial to the health of our water and food supply. When a farm field is left bare, the topsoil can get blown away by the wind or washed away by the rain. We keep our soils in place by covering our fields with plants all year long. In the spring, we plant our corn. It grows through the summer and is harvested in the fall. Then, in the fall we plant a protective cover crop like the cereal grain winter-rye that grows through the winter.  This keeps the soil in place through the snow melts and spring rains. Each 1% increase in healthy soil organic matter helps the soil hold 25,000 more gallons of water per acre.

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Winter rye starting to grow just after the fall corn harvest.

Our corn and cover crops are planted without tilling up the soil, we leave the land in-tact and plant the seeds directly into the ground through any existing vegetation.  When the soil is undisturbed the healthy root systems, the worms and the bugs all help the soil to retain nutrients much better while also doing the tillage work themselves, creating pathways for the water and nutrients to be absorbed.  There are added benefits too –less equipment trips over the field which reduces soil compaction and fuel usage.

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Corn is planted directly into the existing winter rye crop without tilling up the soil first.

In 2016 we began piping manure to many of our fields instead of trucking it. Manure is transported to the fields through a pipeline hose that is connected to a tractor in the field and either spread or injected directly into the soil, sometimes up to 12-inches underground, which protects water quality and improves soil health.  This further reduces the equipment trips over the field but also reduces the road traffic again helping with soil compaction and fuel consumption.

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Manure is being spread through a pipeline hose.  The pipeline connects directly to our manure pit and pumps manure through the pipeline all the way to the tractor in the field.

To watch a video that shows how cover crops and manure injection work visit:
Protecting the Soil ; Feeding the Soil

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One of the most rewarding parts of farming is being out in our fields to harvest our crops and preserve Vermont’s land and natural beauty.

And, when you look out on the beautiful fields and open spaces of Vermont, remember the dairy farmers who are working hard to protect our most important natural resources.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas at Fairmont Farm

Edited from Clement Clarke Moore’s Original

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‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the barns
It’s business as usual, on a dairy farm;

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The stockings were hung by the parlor with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

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The cows were nestled all snug in their sand beds,

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While visions of summer-sun danced in their heads;

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The milkers are bundled up for the storm,
They are settling into their shift and will be milking ’til Christmas ‘morn,

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When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
They sprang from the parlor to see what was the matter.
Away to the window they flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

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The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

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With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
They knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

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“Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!

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To the top of the field! to the top of the hill!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

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As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the barn-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of corn, and St. Nicholas too.

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And then, in a twinkling, they heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As they drew in their hands, and turned around,
Down the cupola St. Nicholas came with a bound.

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He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of corn he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

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His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

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The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

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He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And they laughed when they saw him, in spite of themselves;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave them to know they had nothing to dread;

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He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the cupola he rose;

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He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But they heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!

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Thankful at Fairmont

Happy Thanksgiving!  Many people take this time of year to talk about what they are thankful for.  Here at Fairmont Farm, we feel fortunate to have so much to be thankful for today and everyday.

We are thankful for…..

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Our senior generation that inspired us to get into dairy farming,

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and helped us get started in a great partnership!

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Our family that is passionate about our farm and loves working together to make Fairmont everything it is today.

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Our 4th generation that loves helping out on the farm!

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New additions to the family….Carson,

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Elizabeth,

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and Sophie!

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Our employees that take excellent care of our cows,

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keep the barns clean,

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and milk our cows three times a day around the clock.

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Our wonderful neighbors who are interested in our farm and support us farming in our community.

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Cabot for buying our milk and making it into the worlds best cheddar!

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Manure, to give our crops the nutrients they need to grow…

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and new technology that allows us to operate more efficiently.

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A great crop of corn to harvest for our cows,

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lots of feed in the bunk,

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and a surplus of corn silage to harvest allowing us to pick high moisture corn.

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Weather that allowed us to get 4 cuttings of haylage, 5 on some fields, and gorgeous fields to farm!

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Our feeder that makes sure our cows are fed everyday using the crops that we harvest.

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Local teachers and students that come to the farm for field trips.

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Camp kids that bring so much energy and a love of animals to the farm.

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Our 4-Hers that continue to amaze us with their accomplishments and eagerness to learn.

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Our calves that put a smile on our face everyday,

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even when they decide to walk on the wild side and mischievously get out!

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For our heifers who keep us on our toes in the springtime when they test their boundaries.

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For some of our key cow families that have enabled us to make genetic sales, like “Rescue” (pictured above).

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and most importantly….our herd of COWS!

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Our cows of all shapes, sizes, ages and colors….

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that let us be their farmers!

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What are you thankful for?

Highlights from the NEK Holstein Show

Northeast Kingdom Holstein Show at Barton Fairgrounds was a whirlwind of a day, we trailered in with our heifers on Saturday morning and left Saturday night with a group of successful heifers and smiling 4-Hers that were sure to sleep well that night!

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Udderly Crazy/Fairmont 2016 String NEK Holstein Show

While we were at the fair, we had the pleasant surprise of seeing a pair of steers we sold last year!  They won best pair and best trained in their division, congrats Caleb!!

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Caleb with his young pair of oxen “Rock” and “Stone”

Udderly Crazy 4-H had both the Jr. Champion Showman and Senior Champion Showman!

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Caroline Kirby with “Abiline” and her big sister, Maggie, after winning Jr. Champion Showman.  Maggie is a past winner of this award as well!

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Isabel Hall with “Lust” after winning Sr. Champion Showman.

Other showmanship highlights were Maggie Kirby placing 3rd in her class as well as Christin and Charlie Haynes both placing in the top five of their showmanship classes.

Conformation class highlights:

Spring Calf: Fairmont Solomon Abiline-ET – 1st, Fairmont Doorman Anneli-ET – 2nd, Fairmont Doorman Lilymay-ET – 3rd

Winter Calf: Fairmont Brokaw Addie-ET – 2nd, MS Putnam-Farm Rval Jana-ET – 5th

Fall Calf: Fairmont Sid Lakota-ET – 1st

Summer Yearling: Fairmont O Kaliber Lust-ET – 1st

Spring Yearling: Fairmont Absolute Abbi – 2nd

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Line-up for Junior Champion of the Junior Show

Abiline was the Junior Champion of the Junior Show, Anneli was the Reserve Junior Champion and Lakota was Honorable Mention of the Junior Show.

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Jr. Champion and Reserve Jr. Champion of the Junior Show!

Abiline was Reserve Junior Champion of the Open show and Anneli Honorable Mention.

Other Class Highlights:

Produce of Dam: Abiline and Anneli out of VT-Pond-View Gold April-ET EX-92- 2nd, Lakota and Lust out of VT-Pond-View Atwood Lady-ET EX-90 – 3rd

Junior Best Three: Abiline, Anelli and Lakota – 1st

Thank you to all of our awesome showman who did a wonderful job getting these heifers ready for this show!

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Maggie Kirby

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Isabel Hall

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Justin Thurber

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Caroline Kirby

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Charlie Haynes

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Christin Haynes

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Taggart Schrader

We’re off to Champlain Valley Fair on August 31st for the Vermont Holstein Show which will take place September 4th.  We hope to see you there!

Fair Season is now in Full Swing!

Udderly Crazy 2016

Udderly Crazy 4-H Club (from left to right): Justin Thurber, Isabel Hall, Caroline Kirby, Maggie Kirby, Charlie Haynes

The Udderly Crazy 4-H Club at Fairmont Farm just returned from a great start to their showing season.  August 15th, 2016 was the Vermont State 4-H Show at the Caledonia County Fairgrounds.  We could not be more proud of this amazing group of 4-Hers.

Charlie Haynes placed 3rd in his 11 year old Showmanship class, one of the largest classes of the day!  Caroline Kirby won the 12 year old Showmanship class and then went on to be the Reserve Junior Champion Showman.  Isabel Hall won the 14 year old Showmanship class and Justin Thurber placed 4th in the 14 year old Showmanship class.  Maggie Kirby won her 17 year old Showmanship class.  Isabel Hall was the Senior Champion Showman.

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Isabel Hall – Senior Champion Showmanship – Vermont State 4-H Show 2016

The conformation classes were quite successful as well.  Udderly Crazy 4-H had the 2nd and 3rd place calves in the Spring Calf class, 1st place heifer in the Spring Yearling class and 1st place heifer in the Summer Yearling class.  Our Summer Yearling went on to be Junior Champion of the show!

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Fairmont O Kaliber Lust-ET – 1st place Summer Yearling and Jr. Champion

Congratulations to all of our hardworking 4-Hers that put a lot of time and effort into training their heifers and preparing them for the show ring!

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Caroline prepping “Abiline” for the show ring

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Maggie adding some final touches to “Abbi” before winning the Spring Yearling class

The Udderly Crazy 4-H Club will be headed to the Northeast Kingdom Holstein Show this Saturday August 20th at the Barton Fairgrounds, the show starts at 3pm.

Fairmont will then have a string of animals at the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds for the Vermont State Holstein Show which will be held September 4th.  The best animals will continue on to the Northeast Fall National Holstein Show held on September 16th at the Big E Fairgrounds.

From Udderly Crazy, Maggie Kirby, Isabel Hall and Caroline Kirby have all qualified to attend the Big E with their heifers and represent Vermont 4-H.  The 4-H show at the Big E is both September 17th and 18th.  Maggie will be representing Vermont on the Judging Team A, Isabel will be representing Vermont on Judging Team B as well as the Quiz Bowl Team.

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We hope to see you at some of these upcoming fairs, please visit us in the barn and cheer us on in the stands!

A Day in the Life of a Fairmont Camper

If you’re wondering about our summer camps, here are some snapshots to take you through a day in the life of one of our campers….

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Campers start the morning feeding the heifers

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….and showing them some love!

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Campers brushed their calves

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and learned to lead!

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They bathed their calves,

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and there was plenty of time for bonding 🙂

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Each camper got assigned their own calf for the week,

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which they formed great relationships with…

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smiles all around from the kids and the calves!

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Campers and their calves learned to work together,

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and trust each other!

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Campers also spent time doing daily chores

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and keeping the barn tidy….

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they also made sure our cows had clean water bowls to come back to!

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We made time to play some games to cool off,

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and get our energy out!

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Campers did some team building exercises,

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and helped each other out!

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We had fun watching this duck,

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and all her ducklings!

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Campers fed the baby calves….

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played with them,

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and snuggled them!

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Campers also did a great job cleaning dishes for the next feeding!

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We took a trip to visit Cabot, where all of Fairmont’s milk goes!

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Campers even learned to milk themselves…

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and make butter!

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They also enjoyed dairy products!

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They had fun posing for their very own…

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milk mustache shoot!

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We certainly loved all the different mustaches…

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so cute!!

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Campers made friends,

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and experimented with making some human pyramids!

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They got a little daring with a large pyramid…

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which didn’t last very long!

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We had some special guests from the news…

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and some more guests that taught us about fire extinguishers!

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Learned a little about the history of dairy farming,

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and about dairy showing and dairy judging.

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Campers also took a field trip to our main farm…

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to see many many more calves…

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that is always a hit for both the calves and the campers 🙂

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The whole week led up to a demonstration to family and friends,

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showing everyone what they learned during the week!

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Everyone went home with a blue ribbon,

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we had two awesome groups of campers this year!

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Friends and family even got to meet the special calves that the kids worked with all week!

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Our calves certainly miss their camper friends….

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they can’t wait until next year!

 

Our Doors are Open at Fairmont!

As much as we love farming, we love sharing it with you!  While we welcome tours regularly and have incorporated hosting summer camps and weddings into our summer routine we are very excited to be participating in Cabot’s Open Farm Sunday for the first time this fall!

IMG_0810.JPG Mark your calendars for October 9, 2016 and get excited to see our parlor, new maternity barn and calf barn, enjoy a wagon ride, hear about our farming practices, learn about our history, and try some Cabot Cheese!

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We are hoping to see many of our neighbors along with anyone in the area who is interested in seeing a dairy farm or learning more about what we do!  Please help us start to spread the word now, we are looking forward to a fun filled day with lots of visitors!

Organization – A Key Aspect of Farming

“Knowledge is Power” – The more one knows, the more one will be able to control events. Francis Bacon published this concept in 1597 and almost 420 years later it is just as relevant.  Just like any business we continually look for ways in which we can improve, but in order to identify areas of improvement we have to first know how we are doing.  This is why records play such an important role for us.

IMG_0721This year we are making some upgrades to our crop record keeping.  We currently manage about 3,600 acres of tillable land, 1,500 accounts for our corn crop and the remaining 2,100 acres is used for haylage.  With 3,600 acres of land, we cover almost 300 fields and employ 7 full time people, with another 10-15 people that are seasonal or part time.   With this amount of people and fields, organization becomes a top priority.  A couple years ago we developed a numbering system for all of our fields, these fields are mapped and kept in binders with their numbers.  In our binders we keep management notes including areas that require buffers, our nutrient management plan and spreadsheets to keep record of manure spreading, fertilizer applied, planting dates and varieties.

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Map of our fields around the “Home Farm” on Lyle Young Road in East Montpelier

To supplement our maps we are excited to add field signs this year!  Thank you to our friends and neighbors, Mike and Cheryl Rus, at Sign Here, Inc. for our new signs.  We have just started to put them up, so you may begin to notice them around town.  The goal for these signs is to assist our record keeping.  They will be located at the entrance to fields that we manage, both owned and rented, with our logo and field number on them.  This will make it simple for our operators to keep records for each field.  As an added bonus for those that may not know, when our cupola logo is at the entrance to a field you know that we are managing it.

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Our new field signs!

Another addition to our crop records this year is a new weather station!  We have a station ordered and on the way that will be able to remotely tell us accurate weather information such as how much rain we have had when it happened, the temperature, humidity, wind speed and wind direction.  This is something that will be accessible remotely as well which will be a huge help for deciding on start times for our land here around East Montpelier but also for our farm in Craftsbury which we travel to.

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Excited to retire our Rain Gauge and get an upgrade!

Last fall we installed a scale on the farm which we used for our corn harvest, we are looking forward to have it for a full growing season this year so it can be used for our haylage as well.  Having a scale is the last step to the records, after keeping track of all the field inputs this gives us an accurate picture of what the results were.  It also gives us a definitive number to use for our feed inventory.

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Picture taken during 2015 Corn Chopping – this shows our truck driving over the scale, the green light indicates that the scale has registered the truck and acknowledged that truck’s “tare” weight which will then record and store the date, time, and net weight of the load.

We are looking forward to the 2016 growing season and excited to see what we learn from the improvements we have made.

 

Rescue…The Most Influential Family at Fairmont

Co-op Moonboy Rescue-ET (VG-85, 86MS, 2Y) , “Rescue”, has become quite a powerhouse for us at Fairmont.  Currently the #9 cow in the breed, Rescue is +2627 GTPI, +786 NM$.  The only cow in the top 10 of the breed without Mogul, Supersire or Robust in her pedigree.  With 7 Very Good and Excellent dams behind her, an out-crossed pedigree and high genomics is not her only strength.

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Co-op Moonboy Rescue-ET (VG-85, 86MS, 2Y) +2627 GTPI, +786 NM$

At 3 years and 6 months old, Rescue now has over 40 offspring (~20 daughters and ~20 sons) on the ground.  She has 51 pregnancies coming with 44 pregnancies by daughters already and 38 pregnancies by her Stoic son “Ragen”; that accounts for about 175 descendants in the next year and she has not reached 4 years old.  She currently has 20 offspring over +2600 GTPI, 5 of which are also over +2700 GTPI.    She currently has 8 sons in A.I. and some of her oldest daughters now have offspring as well.

Sons at Genex (currently available):

Younger Bulls at Genex:

  • Fairmont Bayonet Rebel-ET +2753 GTPI
  • Fairmont Bayont Rockstar-ET +2769 GTPI
  • Fairmont Damaris Rambo-ET +2626 GTPI
  • Fairmont Damaris Raider-ET +2731 GTPI
  • Fairmont Bayonet Roscoe-ET +2691 GTPI
  • Fairmont Damaris Rocky-ET +2670 GTPI

Rescue also has sons by Altivo, Ledoux (+2635 & +2751) and Testarossa

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“Rescue” pictured in the middle of her 1st lactation

With all the exciting bulls Rescue has produced we are also excited about her heifers!

Top Daughters:

  • Fairmont Sprsht Ramira-ET +2720 GTPI
  • Fairmont Draco Rhian-ET +2652 PTPI
  • Fairmont Supersht Romina-ET +2647 GTPI
  • Fairmont Avenger Roxanne-ET +2640
    • Currently flushing
  • Fairmont Halogen Rudely-ET +2621 GTPI
    • 1 Daughter by Delta +2661 PTPI
    • 1 Daughter by Damaris +2640 PTPI
    • Pregnancies by: Damaris, Jedi and Magnus
  • Fairmont Josuper Regan-ET +2616 GTPI
  • Fairmont Tuffenuff Ridge-ET +2610 GTPI
    • 2 Daughters by Delta (+2667 & +2778)
    • Pregnancies by: Sharkey, Jedi, Damien, Piledriver, Gatedancer, AltaSuperstar, AltaPainter, Jerald, Magista, Damien, Ambassador and Modesty
    • Tremendous flush heifer, made over 120 embryos in just 10 flushes
    • Due September 2016
  • Fairmont Altivo Rashel-ET +2608
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“Rescue” pictured just a couple weeks fresh in her first lactation

This family has been great to work with, excellent results from both conventional flushing and IVF.  Your chance to get in on this amazing cow family is coming up this June.  We have two exciting consignments for the 2016 National Holstein Convention Sale:

  • Fairmont Supersht Romina-ET +2647 GTPI
    • Our highest Rescue daughter to sell yet
  • Fairmont Delta Rella-ET +2778 GTPI
    • Our first grand-daughter to sell!

Please contact Tucker Purchase with any questions or to get more information, 802-249-3539.

Why Dairy Farmers Love Sand like a Child at the Beach

There is something about building a Sand Castle at the beach that is so satisfying and spectacular.  The sand feels wonderful beneath your toes and molds to your body.  The sand can be formed into anything your heart desires.

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Image from parade.com

On our dairy farm, our cows are equally excited about sand.  Sand is their bed.  Sand is the best bedding we can use for both our cows comfort and health.

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Freshly Raked Sand Beds

At Fairmont, we use “deep sand beds” which means there is not even a floor to the bed, it is all sand.  The sand molds to cows bodies, just like ours at the beach, making a custom bed for each animal.  This type of bedding has proven to be the top choice for dairy producers when it comes to leg comfort, providing a soft spot for the cows hocks to rest and an easy material to get back up in.  Sand also beats out other bedding choices due to the nature of it being non-organic (not related to or derived from living matter), meaning the growth of bacteria is a non-issue compared to bedding with shavings for example that comes from a living organism.  The growth of bacteria in bedding can lead to infections of the udder, called mastitis.  That is why it is very important for our cows health and the quality of our milk to use the best bedding we can find.

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Our girls enjoying their beds!

With all of the positive aspects of sand, finding a plentiful and consistent source for our bedding is often troublesome.  With our recent purchase of the Norman Dix property on Route 2 in Plainfield, we found sand!  If you are local to our Central Vermont area, you may have seen the project we were working on this winter.  We have been digging sand and running it through a screener to ensure a high quality bedding product for our cows.  By extracting the sand we were able to improve the field by making the unused hill in the middle of the field usable!  Another added bonus was driveway material that was screened out of the sand.

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Our trucks have been busy this past winter hauling sand to the main farm in East Montpelier to stockpile top quality bedding for all the beautiful ladies at Fairmont Farm!

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This girl is captured getting some beauty rest in a clean and comfortable sand bed!

Our cows…the reason why we love sand like a child on the beach.