June 2009


COVENTRY, Vt. – Vermont dairy farmers Tim Maikshilo and Kristen Dellert, mindful of shrinking their carbon footprint, have changed their cows’ diet to reduce the amount of gas the animals burp — dairy cows’ contribution to global warming.

Coventry Valley Farm is one of 15 Vermont farms working with Stonyfield Farm Inc., whose yogurt is made with their organic milk, to reduce the cows’ intestinal methane by feeding them flaxseed, alfalfa, and grasses high in Omega 3 fatty acids. The gas cows belch is the dairy industry‘s biggest greenhouse gas contributor, research shows, most of it emitted from the front and not the back end of the cow.

“I just figured a cow was a cow and they were going to do whatever they were going to do in terms of cow things for gas,” said Dellert. “It was pretty shocking to me that just being organic wasn’t enough, actually. I really thought that here we’re organic, we’re doing what we need to do for the planet, we’re doing the stuff for the soil and I really thought that was enough.”

She learned it wasn’t. The dairy industry contributes about 2 percent to the country’s total greenhouse gas production, said Rick Naczi, a vice president at Dairy Management Inc., which funds research and promotes dairy products. Most of it comes from the cow, the rest from growing feed crops for the cattle to processing and transporting the milk.

To satisfy consumers’ demands for sustainable production, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy in Rosemont, Ill., is looking at everything from growing feed crops to trucking milk to reduce the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. That would be the equivalent of removing about 1.25 million cars from U.S. roads every year, said Naczi, who manages the program.

One way is by feeding cows alfalfa, flax and grasses, all high in Omega 3s, instead of corn or soy, said Nancy Hirschberg, head of Stonyfield’s Greener Cow Project. The feed rebalances the cows’ rumen, the first stomach of ruminants, and cuts down on gas, she said. Another way is to change the bacteria in a cow’s rumen, Naczi said.

When Stonyfield first analyzed its contribution to global warming in the late 1990s, the company thought its factory in Londonderry, N.H., produced the most greenhouse gases.

“And when we got the report and our number one impact on climate change was the milk production, we were completely stunned,” she said.

A study showed that the single biggest source was the cow’s enteric emissions: gas.

The company funded energy audits on farms and research on small manure digesters so farmers could produce energy from methane gas.

But Hirschberg said she had no idea what to do about enteric emissions. Then she learned what Group Danone of France, majority owner of Stonyfield and best known in the U.S. for its Dannon products, was doing about its methane.

By feeding their cows alfalfa, flax and grasses, they were cutting down on the gas passed.

The milk is tested at a lab at the University of Vermont to determine its fat content, a process patented by French nutrition company Valorex SAS, through which the enteric emissions are calculated.

Since January, Coventry Valley Farm has reduced its cows’ belches by 13 percent. At another farm, they’ve gone down 18 percent.

Maikshilo and Dellert have also noticed a difference in Hester, Rosebud, Pristine and their other cows. The coats of the black and white Holsteins and brown Jerseys are shinier and they’ve had fewer foot problems and no stomach ailments, they say.

So far, it hasn’t cost them any more for their custom-made grain, which the cows only get in the winter. Now they’re out grazing on grass in the pasture, getting as many Omega 3s. And the farm’s vet bills have gone down.

It’s a win-win for farmers, said Naczi.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” he said.


“A human being who identifies this body made of three elements with his self, who considers the by-products of the body to be his kinsmen, who considers the land of birth worshipable, and who goes to the place of pilgrimage simply to take a bath rather than meet men of transcendental knowledge there, is to be considered like an ass or a cow. ”

Bg 3.40

I am heading out for a week to visit the place of my birth, Park River, North Dakota.  I will be seeing old friends and relatives.

Already I am feeling separation from my garden and despite a last few days’  push I am not where I want to be on the task list.

Some I blame on the weather because the space between my row of  gourds and the row of winter squash and lower places are full of weeds. I haven’t been able to till there for over a month. We had some dry weather around Memorial Day and I overextended myself doing tillage then but don’t regret that a bit because it hasn’t been tillable since.  We had a stretch in the early part of June where we had rain 14 of 17 days, and more since then.

It is a little frustrating because by this evening some of the weedy ground may be tillable, but I am packing and doing last minute paper work so that will consume today’s quota of energy, plus some weed control in the berries if I have excess energy.

Another reason is that I feel a little burst of enthusiasm and take on more stuff. Then I get tired and can’t follow up what I should be doing.Yesterday, instead of doing weed control in my berries, I planted beans, carrots and potatoes.  Those were in the upper beds where drainage is good and already thrown up into beds.

My first planting of beans mostly drowned out so I replanted the same bed in between the few survivors. The carrots I put into a bed where I had already dug early potatoes.

The potatoes went into a long bed that had been prepared but never planted. The weeds were lush and high but I just stuck the seed potatoes barely into the ground and then covered the bed with 12″ (30 cm) of hay.

The potatoes were seed Devananda and I had bought for a little larger project more in a field style but never got them in . They were well sprouted but with careful handling I was able to not break most of them off.

I have given a lot of those seed potatoes away and Devananda has done some small scale planting also but there will still be sacks of seed thrown away.

Anyway, I may or may not get blogging done for the next week, so don’t impute anything into missed days, I probably won’t have fallen into a diabetic coma.

From our local newspaper. It does seem to be a variation of the Wall Street Journal’s text article.

In the print addition the title of the article was “Safety and Solitude”and the pictures were different and better. I am going to post the print copy in the prasadam room at the temple but here is the online version:

Don’t Have a Cow

Sanctuary saves cattle from slaughterhouse


POSTED: June 26, 2009

Photos by Jennifer Compston-Strough

The Palace of Gold is one attraction of the New Vrindaban Hare Krishna community in Marshall County. The commune also features a cattle sanctuary, as cattle are sacred in the Hindu faith.

Summer grilling season is in full swing – but while many are flipping burgers and steaks, one local community is firm in its dedication to keep mankind’s bovine companions from harm.

The New Vrindaban community of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, better known as the Hare Krishnas, near Moundsville has operated a cow sanctuary since the community’s inception in 1968 – the first of its kind in the United States.

At its peak, more than 400 cows grazed the fields of New Vrindaban. That number has since dropped to about 80, primarily for financial reasons, but the Hare Krishnas are determined to do their part to keep as many cows as possible away from the slaughterhouse.

“We appreciate them as living entities,” said Doug Finteo, a Hare Krishna devotee who came to New Vrindaban in 1977 to pursue a more spiritual life. Finteo has spent much of his time since then caring for the cows at the sanctuary.

“It’s a peaceful existence, you might say,” he said.

Cows are sacred in the Hindu faith, as the Hindu deity Krishna is believed to have been a cow herder and taught his followers to revere the animals. Many cow by-products, including clarified butter and dung, are used in worship rituals, Finteo said.

Most states in India have outlawed the slaughter of cattle, and in many areas the animals are free to walk the streets undisturbed.

“They give us so much,” Finteo said, noting that cows are useful to humans in ways other than as a meat provider. “They’re a very gentle animal. They ask nothing, really.”

And while the cows may ask for nothing, at New Vrindaban they are provided pastures in which to graze, a 240-foot by 80-foot barn for shelter during the winter, and – most importantly to the Hare Krishnas – the opportunity to complete their natural life cycle in peace.

Finteo said it’s not right to send a cow to the slaughterhouse simply because its milk production level has gone down, pointing out that only about a half-dozen of the cows at New Vrindaban are milk producers.

“For us, it’s like the cows are a part of your family,” he said. “Cows cannot defend themselves without humans.”

In today’s economic climate, it can be costly to keep an animal that eats up to 40 pounds of hay daily.

Finteo estimated it costs between $70,000 and $80,000 yearly to provide care for all the cows there.

For that reason, the community cannot keep as many as it once did.

According to Finteo, most of the interest received from surrounding communities comes from people of Indian descent and animal rights activists.

“Most people are fixed in their ways,” he said.

Finteo said donations of any amount are welcome. He noted that some people, mostly from the Indian community, provide monthly stipends to help defray the cost of care.

Additionally, anyone can “adopt a cow” by going to the community’s Web site and donating the yearly cost of caring for a bovine, about $1,000.

Other options include simply feeding a cow for a year, at $501; feeding a cow during the winter months, at $251; providing special care for aging cows, at $108; and feeding a cow for a month, at $51.

In comparison, Wayne Blake, owner of Blake Farms in Belmont, raises cattle and sells them to feed lots where they are fattened up for consumption.

He estimated the cost of feeding a single cow enough to help it grow – but not enough to fatten it for sale and slaughter as beef – at about $15-$16 a month.

He said his cattle get 2 pounds of feed daily, for a total of about 60 pounds a month.

WV fire alarm

by David Chandler, MIT

Massachusetts, United States [RenewableEnergyWorld.com]

A team of MIT undergraduate students has invented a shock absorber that harnesses energy from small bumps in the road, generating electricity while it smooths the ride more effectively than conventional shocks. The students hope to initially find customers among companies that operate large fleets of heavy vehicles. They have already drawn interest from the U.S. military and several truck manufacturers.

“Simply put — we want this technology on every heavy-truck, military vehicle and consumer hybrid on the road.”

— Shakeel Avadhany, MIT Senior

Senior Shakeel Avadhany  and his teammates say they can produce up to a 10 percent improvement in overall vehicle fuel efficiency by using the regenerative shock absorbers. The company that produces Humvees for the army, and is currently working on development of the next-generation version of the all-purpose vehicle, is interested enough to have loaned them a vehicle for testing purposes.

The project came about because “we wanted to figure out where energy is being wasted in a vehicle,” senior Zack Anderson (below, with prototype shock absorber) explains. Some hybrid cars already do a good job of recovering the energy from braking, so the team looked elsewhere, and quickly homed in on the suspension.

They began by renting a variety of different car models, outfitting the suspension with sensors to determine the energy potential, and driving around with a laptop computer recording the sensor data. Their tests showed “a significant amount of energy” was being wasted in conventional suspension systems, Anderson says, “especially for heavy vehicles.”

Once they realized the possibilities, the students set about building a prototype system to harness the wasted power. Their prototype shock absorbers use a hydraulic system that forces fluid through a turbine attached to a generator. The system is controlled by an active electronic system that optimizes the damping, providing a smoother ride than conventional shocks while generating electricity to recharge the batteries or operate electrical equipment.

In their testing so far, the students found that in a 6-shock heavy truck, each shock absorber could generate up to an average of 1 kW on a standard road — enough power to completely displace the large alternator load in heavy trucks and military vehicles, and in some cases even run accessory devices such as hybrid trailer refrigeration units.

They filed for a patent last year and formed a company, called Levant Power Corp., to develop and commercialize the product (pictured below, right). They are currently doing a series of tests with their converted Humvee to optimize the system’s efficiency. They hope their technology will help give an edge to the military vehicle company in securing the expected $40 billion contract for the new army vehicle called the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV.

“They see it as something that’s going to be a differentiator” in the quest for that lucrative contract, says Avadhany. He adds, “it is a completely new paradigm of damping.”

“This is a disruptive technology,” Anderson says. “It’s a game-changer.”

“Simply put — we want this technology on every heavy-truck, military vehicle and consumer hybrid on the road,” Avadhany says.

The team has received help from MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service, and has been advised by Yet-Ming Chiang, the Kyocera Professor of Ceramics in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and founder of A123 Systems, a supplier of high-power lithium-ion batteries.

Not only would improved fuel efficiency be a big plus for the army by requiring less stockpiling and transportation of fuel into the war zone, but the better ride produced by the actively controlled shock absorbers makes for safer handling, the students say. “If it’s a smoother ride, you can go over the terrain faster,” says Anderson.

The new shocks also have a fail-safe feature: If the electronics fail for any reason, the system simply acts like a regular shock absorber.

David Chandler is a writer in the MIT News Offi

Fresh from the garden veggies

Radish, lettuce,  spinach, peas, baby beets, basil and potatoes.

the relationship between
……..blackbird and fencepost, between
the cow and its egret, the field
……..and wildflowers overrunning the field—
so little depends upon their trust.

……..Here, in God we trust
to keep our cash and thoughts in line—
……..in the sky, an unexplained white line
could be the first of many omens.
……..But this is no country for omens,

the line as chalky as the moon,
……..bleak and useless as the moon
now rising like a breath of cold air . . .
……..There is gullibility in the air

On  the Wall Street Journal Website there is a video about cow protection in New Vrindaban. Check it out here.

If anyone got to this page wondering how they can support cow protection in New Vrindaban click here for Geeta, the organization that deals hands on with New Vrindaban cows, or you can go to the New Vrindaban website and donate there. The New Vrindaban site is better if you want some interaction, the Geeta site is administrative lite.

I got this link but with dialup connection watching it is problematic, I actually haven’t been able to view it, mostly going on some general feedback from others who did see it.

I would appreciate it if someone, or several, could watch it and give me a detailed review of it.

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