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Take a pasture walk through a historic farm

July 18, 2006|by JEFF SEMLER

The year was 1831, Nat Turner led a slave rebellion in Virginia, Charles Darwin embarked on his famous journey on the HMS Beagle and Andrew Jackson was president. It was also the year James Madison became the third American patriot and president to die on July 4, Jefferson and Adams had done so five years earlier. Many readers of the Sunday Herald-Mail also know it was the year Isaac Long, Jr. moved to a farm on Speilman Road outside of the sleepy little port on the C & O Canal known as Williamsport.

Again familiar territory for faithful readers, the farm known as Long DeLite is home to four generations of Longs, Lawrence, Galen, Brooks and Kaleb. Kaleb makes the eighth generation of Longs to reside on the farm and till it if that is his calling, he's in his first year so time will tell.

Of course, as they say behind every good man is a good woman, Lawrence has been backed in his farming endeavors by Hazel for more than 50 years. Galen's wife, Cindy, is a successful business woman in her own right, owning and operating Cindy's Sweets. Brooks' wife, Katie, has a farming pedigree of her own, being from the Herbst clan of Ringgold, where her family has been farming for over 100 years.

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Some 175 years later, the Longs are going back to the future in their farming practices. They are some of the many embracing pasturing their cows. Known in some way to Isaac was the fact that cows were designed to eat grass. He as many elementary school students know cows have four stomachs. This four compartment stomach allows cows to efficiently digest plant fiber like that in grass. All of today's dairy farmers are again focusing on the forage content of their cows' diets whether they pasture or not. This practice aids in keeping the rumen (the largest compartment) healthy.

Many folks were welcomed to Long DeLite on Saturday last. This Thursday, July 20, the Longs will again welcome visitors as they host the July edition of the Washington County Pasture Walk Series. The walk will begin at 10 a.m. and run until noon. We will be looking at the efforts and practices that have been employed over the last three years as they have transitioned to a greater reliance on grazing.

Currently, they graze a mixed herd of 60 cows and 50 heifers. The change has brought about some increases in milk production and milk quality. The cows are rotated throughout various pastures from April to December if the weather cooperates. Harvested forage and grain is also fed to make up for the shortages as a result of dry spells and winter.

Join us on Thursday and share in the learning in the great outdoors and ask Galen and Brooks how they like their changes.

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