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An old man's rambling


Willie B
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I live in VT. Here, dairy farmers are an endangered species. A lot of Vermont valleys are narrow. Everything is slanted, like a roof. If you are standing on level ground, an excavator made a little flat, you are on top of a mountain, or under a river. Western VT has a few exceptions, elsewhere, not so much. 

My ancestors were farmers. That said, they grew what they ate. That was once the definition of farmer.

In VT, about 1935, earlier for some, later for others, farmers began to specialize in milk production. Plenty produced milk, but few specialized in milk. 

Refrigeration was a factor, earlier, railroads were a factor. In my rewriting of history, tractors, and electricity were big in the changing shape of history.

My grandfather had succeeded his father in a farm. Little is known of that farm, what they produced would be a guess.

By 1920 he bought a farm 120 miles away, where he raised meat animals supplementing his meat shop in the basement of the big hotel in town.  He had a dairy herd, but it couldn't be called a success. He never owned a tractor, but had a dual wheeled model T with Truxtel rear two speed cut down as a makeshift tractor. They had a kerosene engine powered vacuum pump, and the town water supply flowed through his trough to cool cans of milk. Each day it was a struggle to cool the milk to required temperature before it was shipped by train. In summer, ice was added to the trough to hurry the cooling. Some used ice & salt. The unscrupulous risked all, placing ice directly inside the can. This risked total rejection if any sawdust residue was found.

 

By the end of WWII life changed. Real, functional tractors were common, refrigeration was reliable, dairy herds grew! Milk processing plants sprang up, dairy farms thrived!

 

I believe VT dairy farms had a 70 year run. We have as many now as in 1935, they produce as much milk.

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Dairy farms are just the same as gone here. Was very big even 20 to 25 years ago. Every farm has at least 1 milk barn on it around here. Only a handful left. 

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Same in NC Nebr. I would say over half the farmers had 20 to 50 cows. Now don't know anyone.

In HS, I would go help my best friend milk before we could go out Saturday night. Thought nothing of it. Good times.

There was a cheese plant in Orchard Ne that took most everyone's milk.

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My place used to be a dairy, many, many years ago. The milking parlor is still there, at least for now. The milk plant in Rapid City closed about 20 years ago and I don’t think there is a dairy left in west river S.D., just costs too much to ship East.

 

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A few years ago, I was reading about rare varieties of livestock at the livestock conservancy on the MIlking Devon Cattle. I found out they came over with the first European settlers, that it's the cow (see: https://www.redpowermagazine.com/forums/topic/124740-singular-form-of-cattle/). I'd like to have some Red Devons someday. I think they're gorgeous. At the very least, before my daughter is done with school in the state of Vermont, I'd like to see some -what few there are.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've been out of touch a while. Computer melted down, and I couldn't get in for a long time. Passwords are a bit*h!

I've wondered if VT was ever a place to produce milk. All the local processors are defunct. It gets hauled 200 miles to process these days. Still, from 1938 (Rural Electrification) to 1985 many prospered. Many factors to consider. 

I believe good tractors, electricity made it possible. Refrigeration made it a matter of days to the consumer, where it had been hours. Tractors worked longer hours than a horse could.

When the in town creamery closed, my grandfather had to ship milk by train. If I'm not mistaken, milk shipped at 8:00AM. It had to be at 40 F to ship. He would cut ice & store it, use it in the trough with milk cans. Some mornings it was dumped "not to temperature"  

At the end, the Federal Government forced most out with the Whole Herd Buy Out. 

A few remain. Fewer still market organic milk, seeking a niche market.

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Ol' man Willie B----

I see you are from Mt Tabor.  My great, and great, great grandparents were from the Ludlow area-------their names were Sheldon, Pettigrew, and Pollard.  Great Grampa Lawson was born in 1830-----settled in Nebraska in 1856.

Have never been to Vermont and don't know any relatives that might be left  in the area.  Post us some pictures of the area along with your ramblings.

Keep 'em coming.

Delta Dirt   Avon  Ms  38723

AKA:   Anson Sheldon, Jr.  (age 77)

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I know people Sheldon, and close a Pollard. Pettigrew is a name I've heard , but can't point to anybody by that name.

Ludlow is a place I could throw a rock, but there are no roads go there. I was there yesterday. I drove 35 miles by road. A bird would have flown 9 miles.

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I know just about enough on chasing the family tree to get lost in the forest!!

But probably have some distant cousins in your neck of the woods.

I looked Mt Tabor up and saw it wasn't far from Ludlow.

My grandaddy moved to Missisippi after buying land here in 1902-------he had met some good old boys from Greenville during the Spanish American War.

Will be watching for your posts.

 

DD

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9 hours ago, 1586 Jeff said:

This makes at least two Mount Taborians on here.....

Are you referring to #1 son? I can't off hand think of anybody else with a red tractor in town. State says we are up to 204 people, we can only find about 190.

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My wife's grandfather hauled milk in cans behind horses at first, then with a model T 

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11 hours ago, Willie B said:

Are you referring to #1 son? I can't off hand think of anybody else with a red tractor in town. State says we are up to 204 people, we can only find about 190.

You refer to him as your #1 son?

Nevermind, I bust his chops plenty enough already......

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11 hours ago, 1586 Jeff said:

You refer to him as your #1 son?

Nevermind, I bust his chops plenty enough already......

He was my first born.

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