Farm Crews Take a Few Hours Off for ‘Olympics’

Story by Maggie Cassidy. Video shot and edited by Maggie Cassidy.

Vershire — Spread out across a hayfield at Broad Acres Farm late Tuesday afternoon, dozens of farmers in teams of five, give or take, waited for the countdown over a megaphone — three, two, one, go! — before frantically installing sections of single-strand fence in square areas marked by small orange flags.

While the 31st Summer Olympics were ongoing in Rio de Janeiro (population 6.32 million), the second annual Farmer Olympics, put on by the Northeast Organic Farming Association, were just getting started in Vershire (population 679).

And right out of the gate, some teams were having a harder time than others.

“We do not have cows!” cried out a farmer from Springtail Farm, in Washington, Vt., as that crew struggled with the lines.

“We’re a seed farm!” hollered another teammate. 

Continue reading “Farm Crews Take a Few Hours Off for ‘Olympics’”

Waiting for His Cows to Be Sprung: Dispute Over Trespassing Cattle Leads to Neighbor Impounding Herd

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

Royalton — Trouble has been brewing on Happy Hollow Road, and a quartet of innocent cows is stuck in the middle.

Making use of a state law from a bygone era, an exasperated resident fenced in a neighboring farmer’s escaped bovines over the summer. The farmer wants the animals released, and after months of dispute, today could be the day this mad cow escapade comes to an end.

“I was hoping it would get resolved a lot sooner,” Royalton Police Chief Bob Hull said Wednesday. “It’s sort of something that I don’t think has happened probably in the state for a long, long time.” Continue reading “Waiting for His Cows to Be Sprung: Dispute Over Trespassing Cattle Leads to Neighbor Impounding Herd”

Manure Pile Spontaneously Combusts at Windsor Goat Farm

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

Windsor — At the municipal offices downtown, Police Chief Stephen Soares compared the stench wafting through Windsor Wednesday to the smell of “burning rubbish.”

Town Manager Tom Marsh said it evoked “a damp kind of burning leaves or brush fire.” And at least one person thought it smelled like bacon.

Alas, a town official says the cause was something less redolent: A giant pile of goat manure spontaneously combusted at a Route 5 goat farm early Wednesday morning, they said, erupting into small flames and emitting a scent that both perplexed and amused people.

“(I)t was a little disconcerting because it was a very strong smell,” said Marsh, who said the aura was easily detectable at his home high on a hill, about five miles from the farm. “It wasn’t like a whiff of something.” Continue reading “Manure Pile Spontaneously Combusts at Windsor Goat Farm”

Pampering Poultry: Chicken Poop a Problem? Claremont Woman Has It Covered

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

Claremont — Open the door to Julie Baker’s rural Claremont home and find little Mama Hen, hanging out on the stairway to the second floor.

No need to check the bottoms of your shoes, though. The 3-year-old broody is sporting an unusual garment featuring a small receptacle in the back, covering — as Baker puts it — her “vent.” With snaps on the back, a bow in the front and understated ruffles throughout, the bright pink get-up would make Barbie jealous.

It’s a fitting scene for Baker’s home, where goats are named after flowers and at least one goose has been known to wear a bonnet, and which doubles as headquarters for her business selling, of course, chicken diapers. Continue reading “Pampering Poultry: Chicken Poop a Problem? Claremont Woman Has It Covered”

One Year After Tropical Storm Irene, Farmers Prove a Resilient Bunch

By Maggie Cassidy
Valley News Staff Writer

South Royalton — Standing next to a row of cherry tomatoes, Geo Honigford extended his arm west, pointing toward “popcorn fields” across his produce farm, Hurricane Flats.

With the hot sun scorching his mustard-colored baseball cap, he let his arm rise and fall, rise and fall, sweeping from left to right, mimicking the undulated valleys and peaks of the corn stalks’ tops.

The stalks looked like soft green and yellow waves, an appealing visual — at least to non-farmers. But it’s actually a sign of the land’s recent distress: The stalks should all be of a uniform height, Honigford said, and those slopes signal a nutrient deficiency in the soil. Continue reading “One Year After Tropical Storm Irene, Farmers Prove a Resilient Bunch”