Conservation farm of the year

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Last night, Stan and I went to the Chautauqua County Soil and Water District and Cornell Cooperative Extension joint annual meeting and we received the Conservationist of the year award. This is given to a farm every year who has followed practices that conserve both soil and water - "For outstanding accomplishment in the field of soil, water and natural resource conservation."

I just thought I'd brag a little!

Fayette, MO(Zone 6a)

How wonderful Kathleen and Stan! That is a great accomplishment.

I wouldn't mind having some more specific information on some of the things you do that helped you get the award.

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Hey, KJ, thanks.

They looked at our nutrient management program (where and when we spread the poop and whether or not the fields are getting just enough or too much through soil tests every two to three years - ok so far), our program of field tiling ( running tiles through the fields to eliminate wet spots and there by prevent nutrient loss in the top soil) our timberland management, the grazing programs and water management in the pastures, our milkhouse waste water filter strip, our management of the creek that flows through the farm (allowing filter strips of trees and shrubs to grow on either side to prevent runoff from the fields to enter the stream), and our participation in the NRCS Conservation Security Program which encompasses all of the above and our commitment to providing habitat for wild life in the form of kestrel boxes, bluebird boxes, small ponds for waterfowl and brush piles back in the woods for various critters (that was a toughy, lol).

I can tell you, we were pretty shocked when we got the letter announcing it two weeks ago, this usually goes to bigger operations than ours. We also have done a lot of the stuff on our own, so that wasn't necessarily "official." I guess what it boils down to is that we have tried to be good stewards of the land, and sometimes that gets noticed.

southeast, NE


Humansville, MO(Zone 6a)

Congratulations way to go

Fayette, MO(Zone 6a)

I never heard of kestrel boxes.

Is most of the tiling on pasture land and with terracing?

Do you allow grazing on the filter strip along your creek? I am not part of the program here, but some people are in a riparian buffer program. Anyway, I think that is what it's called.

Prophetstown, IL(Zone 5a)

Congratulations Kathleen, that's impressive recognition.


Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

NJ, Dave and Jersey, thanks. I grin every time I think about it.

KJ, the tiling is under ALL the fields. We have heavy clay loam soil and lots of springs. We don't do terracing, just go with the slope of the land. Not planting corn or beans, we don't have a lot of run off. All of our plantings are grasses - millet to break the sod and then a mix of timothy (on the dryer ground), reed canary (on the wetter ground), clover and orchard grass with a cover crop of oats. We almost never let the oats grow long enough to combine, but cut them green and put them in the silo.

the kestrel boxes were new to us, too. We've had bluebird boxes for years and years, but the CSP guidelines strongly suggested the kestrel boxes.

The cows have access to the buffer strip, but usually only use it to cross the creek from one pasture to the next. Our end of the creek is so dinky that the NRCS doesn't even consider it a creek until it gets onto the next farm. We have two little ponds, not much more than wet holes, that they drink out of. The only time they ever really go into the buffer is to have calves in the thickest area of the swampy part - all pussy willows and birch trees and brambles. What joy.

Brewers, KY(Zone 6b)

congrats Kathleen! here tell you wore hip bell bottom jeans to the big all dressed up.

Fayette, MO(Zone 6a)

The cows would try to hide those babies in the toughest place for you to find them. The two half holstein cows I have are such good moms.. and the best hiders of baby calves.

I just did a little reading about kestrel boxes and found it interesting that they live in boxes like a big birdhouse. I would have thought that they would have an open nest like a larger hawk or eagle. interesting.

I have a friend that wants to put up wood duck boxes. I had one mother wood duck this year with two ducklings I watched all year. With my painted turtle population I was amazed the baby ducks made it.

And how cool is it that you have natural springs! Do those natural springs drain into the ponds? I was trying to make pickles and it said I should probably use soft water.. I would either have to take the top of my old well that doesn't have a usable pump and dip it out with a bucket or go over to my cousins house that have a spring.

Do you have to buy corn or other supplemental feed for your dairy cattle , or are you able to feed them with what you raise? ( I know so little about dairy farming.)

Also.. How and when do you spread manure?.. I just cleaned out my barn and was wondering if I should till it in? Let it compost naturally in my pile and then spread it out? I don't have a spreader.

Hillsboro, OH(Zone 6a)

Great news Kathleen! I actually read this yesterday but ended up in a tail spin reading about conservation, FSA, CSA, which lead me to my state and county agencies, etc. I've not been on this forum in so long that I've missed all kinds of stuff! Then I forgot to post. LOL

What you've done and been recognized for, is really awesome!

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

KJ, actually, the springs are more problem than blessing, although I know we are incredibly lucky to live where we do when it comes to precipitation and water tables. We have a spring fed "well" back by the woods that Stan can siphon off in the dry periods and there are two real ponds and one good sized wet hole for the cows to drink out of and an unimproved spring down where another little creek begins. We are on a divide. The water to the east goes to Brokenstraw Creek, the water on the western side goes to into a branch of French Creek. They all end up in the Allegheny River.

My father and grandfather used to put up wood duck boxes down by the swamp (different farm), but we never have, although Stan said he saw a wood duck last year.

We buy a year's worth of shelled corn every fall and steamed flake corn and we buy a protein/mineral mix as we need it. The cows could exist on just hay and haylage, but they would lose body condition fast and dry up.

Holsteins are masters of hiding calves. We looked for two days for one this past summer before we found it. We'd taken the mother to the barn to milk and then turned her back down with the dry cows hoping she'd lead us to the calf. No such luck. Jessie and I had to go down the next day and wade through the brush and muck until Jess flushed the calf. I was waiting in a little clearing and grab it before it could go deeper in. We used the old cover its eyes and blow in its nose and it followed us up to the barn, along with its real mommy and all the other mommies in waiting. It was quite a parade.

We spread manure every day. Stan cleans the barn in the morning in the summer and twice a day when the cows are in. The cows stand in tie stalls and we have an around the barn gutter cleaner. That was one of the things that we did without for a long time, cleaning barn every day with a shovel. Stan and I were in great shape back then!

hehehe, yes I did wear new bell bottom black jeans and I hope they shrink! I bought the size I always get and they are just toooooo big. YEA!!!!

LOL, Chele - alphabet soup!

Baker City, OR(Zone 5b)

Huge congratulations! You've done lots of hard work and it is nice to get recognized for it.

Lewisville, MN(Zone 4a)

Congratulations! It's nice to see a hard working "Family" farm get an award no & then.

Buffalo, WV(Zone 7a)

That sure is something to be proud of, Kathleen! I know you and Stan have worked hard for many years so you deserve the award and all the feel goods that come with it :~) Congrats to you both.


Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Thanks for all the kind words. The plaque, a nice metal announcement plaque on a hunk of walnut, is now hanging under the kitchen clock, directly in your line of sight as you enter the kitchen from the back room. No one who comes in the back door will be able to miss it. I'd hate for anyone to not have a chance to see it - hehe : )

Sue, RI(Zone 6a)

Kathleen and Stan, Congratulations! All that hard work really does pay off!

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