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Category: Sustainability

Sustainability at Gwenyn Hill Farm

August 31, 2021 By Ryan Heinen When asked what is the greatest skill I have for being a farmer, I thought about my experience grazing cows, growing organic crops, and knowledge gained during my dairy grazing apprenticeship. These are important and necessary skills for being a good farmer.  However, I feel the greatest is my...

Gwenyn Hill’s Native Prairie; More than a Pretty Face

August 13, 2021 By Linda Halley In 2019, Ryan Heinen, Gwenyn Hill’s Land and Livestock Manager, seeded ten acres of native grasses and forbs, replacing a relatively poor stand of alfalfa hay. Most of the field lies along Bryn Drive and is very visible from the road. For two years it looked rough and ratty....

The Red Devons at Gwenyn Hill

August 13, 2021 By Linda Halley and Ryan Heinen The Red Devon calves are arriving at Gwenyn Hill Farm.  They are a sturdy 70 pounds at birth, ready, within minutes, to test out their legs and look for their first milk.  They are born on pasture and won’t get familiar with the inside of a...

Thank You

by Linda Halley | Having felt robbed by the pandemic of Thanksgiving, and fearing Christmas was shaping up to be the same, I settled down to a deep winter dinner, made by me, for me. On the longest night of the year, though alone in the house, I would feel surrounded by my friends who...

Deep Winter Inspiration About our Food System

By Linda Halley with Birke Baehr | Nearly a decade ago I ran across a TED talk that brightened my day like no other. Like most TED talks it was informative and well presented. What was unique was that the speaker was only 11 years old and he was talking about the food system. He was...

Woods, More Than Just a Shady Place

By Linda Halley | For the past couple of generations, woodlots have been a neglected part of most Wisconsin farms. Woodlots were once a valuable farm resource, used as shady summer pasture and a source for heating fuel and building materials. Farmers cleared the richest land for crops and open pastures but often left trees...

Maple Water

By Linda Halley | Gwenyn Hill Farm is blessed with maples; mostly red, some sugar, and an occasional silver maple. Ryan Heinen, Gwenyn Hill’s Land and Livestock Manager, and I put out a few taps this past week, We located them in easy-to-reach places along the road and in my yard. Sap runs best when...

Following Nature’s Example

by Ryan Heinen, Land and Livestock Manager | It’s February in Wisconsin and more snow is predicted in the forecast. Lots of conventional farms have their livestock closed up in the barn. But here on Gwenyn Hill Farm the cattle are still out on the pastures, breathing the crisp fresh air and enjoying ample room to...

Opportunities and Optimism at the University of Wisconsin

by Erin Silva | The broad negative impacts of the way in which we produce food are becoming increasingly evident. Regularly we see news headlines reporting on pollinator decline, contamination of our ground and surface waters, and the negative health impacts of the American diet. Further, the people and communities that are producing our food are...

Links of Interest

by Linda Halley | It was nearly a year ago when Gwenyn Hill posted its first blog. It felt a little like speaking up into the night sky. How far would the words travel? Would anyone hear (or read) them? Nevertheless, we posted, and committed to continue posting regularly. Some posts are of the mundane variety,...

Who’s Milking the Dairy Cows?

by Ryan Heinen | In America’s Dairyland and across the country, the sight of milk cows grazing in pasture has become uncommon. The exception is certified organic dairy farms, where grazing must provide at least 30% of a cow’s feed during the grazing season. This summer you may have noticed the small herd of milk cows...

A Barn Is Reborn

by Linda Halley, General Manager | For eighteen months, a shady hillside along Bryn Drive has been bare. A lone silo remains, a testament to the fact that a dairy barn once stood there. In the next few weeks the barn will rise again, thanks to a couple of unassuming brothers, Tad and Craig Van Valin....

Strength in Diversity

by Linda Halley, General Manager | When the heavens opened up on August 16 and kept it up until September 3rd, farmers knew the season had taken a turn. Half of the summer’s precipitation fell the second half of August, much of it coming fast and furiously. Equally bad were the heavy, stagnant air and cloud...

Using Livestock to Make Healthy Soils

by Ryan Heinen, Land & Livestock Manager | If you have driven by the farm recently you may have noticed a small herd of cows grazing near the old dairy barn. Over the next months and into 2019 we will be in the process of building livestock flocks and herds of sheep and cattle. Their job...

Winged Allies

By Linda Halley | From the backyard of the farmhouse you can spot an amazing number of our farm’s wild allies, without which it would be hard to farm organically. Each has its role to play. The monarchs are bobbing in pairs over the tall, shaggy weeds, among them the monarch-favorite, milkweed. By fall, the...

Farming by Hand

By Laurel Blomquist | A couple of weeks ago, I discussed several of the machines we use at planting time to help us do our work. We certainly get a lot more done with these machines, as they work much faster than we could by hand. The truth is, though, that most of our work...

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