Healthy Soil — I Heart You!

The next stop on the Stonyfield Barnstorming Tour was a visit to Guy and Beth Choinere’s organic dairy farm! Guy and Beth have two amazing kids (Hi, Matt and Hannah!), who also help out a great deal on their family farm. We received a very warm welcome!!

Guy explained to us that he views his cows as athletes, and himself as their trainer. A large component of their “training” is made up in the cows diet, and they are grass-fed as much as possible during grazing season.

The minerals found in the soil are taken up by the grass, which the cows then eat, and it helps strengthen their immune systems. In organic farming, the focus is on finding ways to prevent disease, so the health of the soil is vital to the success of the farm. Guy is known for being passionate about soil, and now I can understand why!
One of the major challenges organic farmers face is the treatment of disease without antibiotics. In the rare event that a cow does become sick, Guy is able to recognize the signs of disease in the very early stages because he knows each cow’s temperament — Amazing! He told us that his medicine cabinet for the cows looks exactly like the medicine cabinet he uses to treat his family. Using a blend of cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and echinacea, he has had great success in strengthening the cow’s own immune system to fight infection without the use of antibiotics. 
We were treated to a very tasty lunch — chicken salad sandwiches made with freshly baked organic wheat bread, and potato salad with dill. Seriously, the food on this tour was incredible!!
There is a definite cuteness factor to life on a farm! This kitten made me smile — adorable!! No matter how cute the animals, they all have to earn their keep. I have no doubt this little guy will make a great mouse hunter.
Along with dairy cows, Guy and Beth’s farm has some chickens, pigs, and even a bull named Stanley! I think Emily would have loved to meet this chicken! 

Guy showed us a diagram to help explain how healthy soil is needed for healthy crops. Healthy crops are necessary for healthy animals. At the top of the pyramid is human health because we rely so much on the health of everything else. 
I wish all of you could have come with me to meet Guy, Beth, and their two kids — what a fantastic, sweet, wonderful family!!
Up next, a visit to a conventional family farm, and then…. I get to milk a cow!! Woo hoo!!!!


  1. MaryAnne says

    That kitten is adorable! Happly-looking cows, too =)

  2. An Almost Unschooling Mom says

    Very true about the soil. The area we're in had concentrated doses of fallout from post-World War II nuclear testing – which got into the soil – which grew into the grass – which the cows ate – and the children in the 50's and 60's (if I understand right) who drank the milk, ended up with high rates of cancer. Makes you think.

  3. EntertainingMom says

    Neato! And how fun… fascinating about treating the cows w/out the use of antibiotics.

  4. Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog says

    @ MaryAnne — I totally agree! I wanted to scoop him up and put him in my pocket to take home with me! 🙂

    @ An Almost Unschooling Mom — Woah! Amazing that the effects were so long-lasting. Healthy soil is a true blessing and something to never be taken for granted.

    @ Entertaining Mom — I was so impressed by that too!! Guy works so hard on his farm. I wanted to ask him where he keeps his super-hero cape! 🙂

  5. sounds like a wonderful trip and so interesting. Loving the pics!! Have a great time xx

  6. Raising a Happy Child says

    How interesting about fighting diseases – I would have really like to know how to strengthen our immune system this way. It sounds like you have a fantastic trip.

  7. I always worry about soil. We live in a town with two power plants so while I would like to buy locally grown produce, I worry about what is in our soil and whether I should just buy the grocery store stuff. BUT, then who knows where that is grown, so I end up buying the local stuff anyway. Can you tell I worry a lot?

    Anyway, it looks like you are having a great time.

    Like Natalie, I would be interested in learning more about strengthening my immune system naturally.

  8. Catherine Anne says

    I always love it here~

  9. whataboutsummer says

    farms are such a different culture than the one I have been living in. what an amazing learning experience to spend time on one!

  10. Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog says

    @ Pip — Thank you!! It was a total blast!!!

    @ Raising a Happy Child — I was surprised to learn that the method he uses to treat the cows also works well for humans. His entire family agreed that it really works!!

  11. Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog says

    @ Christy — I can understand those worries too! The best thing you can do is get to know your farmer, and I think it's great that you buy local. It's very important!

    @ Catherine Anne — Thank you!!

  12. Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog says

    @ whataboutsummer — It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! I feel so fortunate, and I'm so grateful for the chance to share what I learn by posting to the blog. It has been so much FUN!!!

  13. These are such fun posts to read. And now you see why Texas is ranch country, because we have horrible soil. But grass grows here pretty well.

  14. Artistmama says

    Looks like such a great time. Love what the Farmer said about athletes and trainer. And so awesome that he can sense illness based on knowing their temperament. Pretty awesome!