Farm #1: Rotational Grazing, Cows, and Maple Syrup!

I’m back to share more in-depth details about the farms we visited on the Stonyfield Blogger Barnstorming Tour!


As I mentioned, one of the coolest things about the tour was getting to meet the farmers and the cows in person! :)


The first farm we visited on the tour was the Howmars Farm, which is run by Jonathan, Karen, Howard, and Mary Gates. The farm has been in the family for three generations, since 1943. Wow!


Howmars Farm has been certified organic for nearly 13 years and is an Organic Valley brand milk provider. It’s fun now to buy this brand at the store and think that it might have come from one of my new cow friends :)


We were shown around by one of the farm’s owners, Jonathan.


It was awesome to meet a farmer that’s so knowledgeable and passionate about his farm. The cows like him just as much as we did — doesn’t it look like she’s smiling? :)


Jonathan’s farm has about 50 milking cows, and they live to an average of 10 years old. He even has one cow that is 15 and a half! That sure beats the heck out of the conventionally raised average age of 4 years!


He doesn’t keep any bulls on site (they can be aggressive/dangerous), so all the cows are impregnated using artificial insemination. I didn’t even know they could do that with cows!


One of the most interesting things that Jonathan told us about is his employment of rotational grazing, which maximizes nutrients both in the land and for the cows themselves.


With rotational grazing, cows are frequently rotated to new areas of the pasture, letting them graze on fresh grass and allowing the other areas time to re-grow. 


His farm has a 28-day grazing rotation, which he says he has come about through trial and error.


I also loved that all the cows at his farm had names! I asked Jonathan if he can tell them apart, and he said definitely. Apparently they all have very distinct personalities!


The Howmars Farm is also cool because during the early spring, the entire family engages in the production of maple syrup! I’m not sure there’s anything more amazing than New England maple syrup. Am I right?!


I see pancakes in my future. :)

I will leave you with a quote from Jonathan:

People forget how important food is. If you’re going to spend money on something, spend it on local, organic food.


Do you try to buy local and organic? I love farmers markets, but I haven’t been able to go to any recently because of my weird school/work schedule. I’m really excited because when I move to North Carolina in August, there’s a co-op grocery store AND a farmer’s market right around the corner from our new place. Sweet!

Stay tuned — there are more farm recaps to come!

p.s. Per request, I just added a new section to my recipes page with all my “5 minute packable lunches” — check it out! :)


  1. 1

    I try to buy as local and organic as I can! I’m so excited for when I finally move over to Spokane because there is an organic market less than a mile from my house! Less than a week!

  2. 2

    cows have personalities!?!?! that might the cutest thing I’ve ever known a farmer to day :)

  3. 4

    I seriously LOVE that quote. That describes my eating almost to the the T!

  4. 5

    I don’t make a huge effort to buy organic at the grocery store (I’m too cheap), but I do head to a local farmer’s market at least 2 or 3 times a month in the summer. To be honest, it’s more for the experience (I love browsing all the stalls!), but of course there are undeniable health benefits from the goodies I bring home as well.

    Anne, you’re pictures are incredible! They are shockingly … intimate. Something about them makes me feel like I’m standing right there with you. Makes me want to drop everything, head out to a local farm and nuzzle me some cows. :)

  5. 7

    Definitely try to buy Local when we can, and once you go Organic, you don’t go back. This post is awesome, and I love that one of the cows’ nametags says “emily”. heh, just sounds cute.

  6. 8

    You didn’t know they impregnated cows with artificial insemination? You should look up online the scene from Dirty Jobs where Mike Rowe has to collect the seamen as part of his dirty job–classic

  7. 10

    This is wonderfully informative, not to mention beautiful scenery. Well done!

  8. 11

    Awesome pics! I try and go out to my farmer’s market every saturday and get what I can from there, usually eggs, onions, spinach, tomatoes, and in the summer fruit. I then try and get the rest of my produce from the co-op. I try and buy locally first before going to walmart or other stores.

  9. 12

    I love their philosophy! It must have been wonderful to see all of that!
    I definitely try to buy local in terms of fruits/veggies, meats & eggs to support the local economy as well as get fresh things!

  10. 13

    What a wonderful post! Thankyou for sharing it :)

  11. 14

    I sometimes buy local and organic…I also find that it can be hard to make the farmer’s market times due to my crazy schedule. I notice that Harris Teeter has been keeping local fruits and veggies on hand and labeling them as such.

  12. 15
    Adventurer says

    Thx for the explanation/education! Great stuff!

  13. 16

    i love your blog, but i love your regular posts so much more! can’t wait to see you back on regular scheduled blogging!!<3

  14. 18

    Organic is definitely the best! Switching to organic eggs was the best thing I ever did – I don’t think I ever really knew what an egg tasted like before that. It’s so great to see how these farmers live and how they treat both their animals and their land with respect.

  15. 19

    I love this post, Anne! The photos of the farmer interacting with his cows – and enjoying it – are heartwarming :) Knowing that these farms exist and are thriving make feel even more confident about the extra pennies we spend on local and organic foods. It’s SO worth it!

    I love cows – and wish they all had names! I re-posted this on my Facebook!

  16. 21

    Awww, I love all of the cow pics. They look so happy. Who says only Cali cows are happy? :) They look very well taken care of. They also have an impressive lifespan, must be all the love and passion.

    That little maple syrup tin brings me back to childhood! We used to sell those in our farm market.


  17. 22

    I was asking Stoneyfield if the cows were humanely treated and they sent me to a website and I watched a very nice video of a farm much like your pictures..then I was going to share and it clicked me over to and then I started watching another video……..which is the link below…..what happens to the babies?? Did you see babies on the farm you went to??

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