Bull Calf

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This little guy gets his own post because he’s just so darn cute!

My cousin Darryl bought him from another cousin of ours, Travis, who also runs a dairy farm. One of my favorite things to do on the farm as a kid (I spent a lot of time at Aunt Betty’s in the summertime) was to visit the calves every day. They are timid, but also very curious, which makes for a very sweet combination.

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Murrock Farms – The Old Barn

IMG_2570 (1024x1024)A small section of the original barn (or at least it’s been there as long as Aunt Betty has been on the farm) still stands at Murrock Farms. Most of the barn was burned in a fire in 1984/1985 (I think I was there that summer? I seem to remember it, not just from stories).

IMG_2583 (1024x1024)IMG_2483 (768x1024)My cousin Darryl wants it to come down, but Aunt Betty likes it because it protects her raspberry bushes and peonies from the elements.

IMG_2489 (768x1024) IMG_2544 (1024x1024)For sure it is run down (the beadboard, though!) and doesn’t serve any other purpose but to store equipment and random odds and ends.

It also houses a chicken coop, which I forgot to take a photo of (urrrr!!). Aunt Betty told us there used to be more, but she suspects the weasels got the rest of them. The remaining chicken is a fiesty girl – she pecked the dog when it got too close.

IMG_2488 (925x1024)I love that it’s original to the property and of course it reminds me of my childhood and of my aunt and uncle, so I’m with Aunt Betty on this one. Plus, the raspberry bushes have been there as long as I can remember, so if anything were to happen to them, it would be super sad.

IMG_2529 (1024x1024) IMG_2490 (768x1024)I was drawn to the old bottles in the barn. Darryl let me take home several, but Aunt Betty made me put one back that she said she didn’t yet have in her collection.

IMG_2549Later she showed me the collection, which she keeps in the kitchen on display. It includes one milk bottle with the farm’s old logo on it. It’s quintessential dairy farm, I think. So retro, so perfect. She said someone saw the bottle at a sale (garage sale, estate sale) and brought it to her. Wish they were still using the same today.

Murrock Farms

IMG_2548 (1024x1024)On our last day of vacation, we drove into Watertown to Murrock Farms, run by my cousin Darryl. When I was growing up, his parents, my Uncle Charles and Aunt Betty (my dad’s sister) owed and ran the farm.

After my Grandma died, when we visited New York in the summers, we stayed with Aunt Betty (Uncle Charles had passed by then). At 91, she still lives in the farmhouse on the property and watches over the farm, noting every car or person who comes by; she has all her wits about her. Amazing.

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Uncle Charles and Aunt Betty (far right. Okay, her eyes are closed, but it’s the only photo I have). Next to them, my mom and dad. Next over is dad’s sister Rosalind and husband Art. Then his brother Doug and wife Irene. Then his brother Fred and wife Anna and finally my grandmother, Lucy.

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Aerial view of farm without the calf barn or new milk barn.

On a side note, only a few years before Uncle Charles died did I find out that he hated his nickname Chuck. I was so surprised when someone (Aunt Betty? my Dad?) told me. It felt weird to make the transition to Charles, but I wasn’t about to keep calling someone by a name they didn’t like.
IMG_2528 (1024x1024)We showed up somewhat unannounced. I’d told Darryl we were planning on stopping by, but never confirmed when (sorry and thank you!!).  Jeffrey (Darryl’s son) and his dog Sarah pulled up in the truck and were the first to greet us.IMG_2557 (1024x1024)IMG_2405 (768x1024) IMG_2404 (768x1024)He was working on the new barn, which will house the new offices (currently in various rooms in the farmhouse) and new milking robots. I know. Whoa, right?

Current milking set-up…

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Blue container is catching milk for the calves.

New milking set-up (photo from Lely.com)…

I was fascinated by the milking process as a kid (I say kid, but well up into my teens. even now). I always made a point to watch at least once a day (there are three a day, the first one starting at 5:00am) when we were on the farm.

According to what I read online (click link for article), robotics milking not only saves money in the long run, but also includes other benefits like “more milk for cow,” “more freedom and improved animal well-being” and “better social life for farmer.” :)

IMG_2556 (1024x1024) IMG_2551 (1024x1024)We made our way to the calf barn.

IMG_2553 (1024x1024)The babies were super cute. The girls held out their hands to be licked. One calf got a pretty big mouthful of my daughter’s dress! The date on the tag is the calf’s birth date. Jeffrey started over at number 1 for their tags not long ago. I believe Darryl said they were up to number 3000 at that point.

IMG_2555 (1024x1024)IMG_2550 (1024x1024)IMG_2527 (1024x1024)IMG_2644Darryl made the move to organic farming I want to say about eight years ago. It took a couple years to become fully organic, as the entire farm (corn fields/feed, cows) had to meet all the criteria. Most of the farm’s milk ends up with the Horizon brand.

Such a fun day reliving childhood memories and sharing them with the girls.

Rutland, New York – The Farm and The Pond

IMG_2125 (1024x1024)Rutland is a small town (smaller than Lowville with an estimated population of 3000) in upstate New York off NY Route-126.

My Dad grew up with his two brothers and two sisters on the dairy farm that is now called Centerdale Farm (It was previously called Rutland Lake Farm). The farm was in our family from 1928 to April 1987  (my Aunt Irene and Uncle Doug took over the farm in 1960/1961 and came up with its previous name and sold the farm at auction in ’87).

IMG_2126 (1024x1024)I’m so glad the new owners haven’t changed it much. It looks almost exactly like it did when I was a little kid. I loved visiting my Dad’s brother, my Uncle Doug and Aunt Irene on that farm.

I remember being fascinated by my Uncle using lye to clean the barn floors (I was heavily cautioned about it, so my fascination was in part, due to an extreme fear of it). I also remember great home-cooked meals, desserts made by my Aunt and ice cream churned by my Uncle. There was always lots of laughter and music (Aunt Irene is an excellent piano player, singer and former choir director) during those visits.

IMG_2127 (1024x1024)The pasture surrounding the farm is gorgeous. The cows pictured here are Angus, which sadly no, are not dairy cows. When my Aunt and Uncle owned the farm they only had Jersey cows (oh my gosh, the cutest cows ever). Here’s what she says about the changeover to Holsteins (black and white):

“Because of the high butter fat or cream in the milk, is the reason your grandparents produced butter and delivered butter into the city as well as selling at the homestead. When we purchased the farm, the value and price paid for high butter fat was not a profitable decision to stay with.  Therefore we decided to change over to Holstein cattle. It took selling 2 Jerseys to purchase 1 Holstein, so it was a slow change over, but we succeeded.”

I’ve always loved watching cows out in the field. They’re so gentle and calm, and sometimes silly, especially when they get spooked.

IMG_2045 (768x1024)IMG_2068 (768x1024)My Aunt (my Uncle died in an accident several years ago) still owns much of the land surrounding Rutland Pond, less than a mile from the farm. It has always been private property, but while my Uncle worked the farm, they didn’t use it much so local residents were free to fish and hang out. Today, trespassing is strictly enforced. Luckily, we had an invitation.

IMG_2049 (768x1024)My family and I met Aunt Irene at the pond one afternoon. I was so excited for the girls to finally meet her. She had a beautiful spread waiting for us. Bacon-wrapped chestnuts, homemade pesto, mini apricots, cheese, crackers, chips and nuts.

IMG_2124 (1024x1024)My Uncle built the dock in the winter of 1984. Aunt Irene says only two or three boards have been replaced since then.

IMG_2058 (970x1024)We had fun looking for frogs.

IMG_2129 (1024x1024) IMG_2089 (768x1024) IMG_2052 (768x1024)IMG_2062 (768x1024)And swimming (which I didn’t do because I don’t get in unless its in the 80s) and paddle-boarding. I never get tired of this view.

IMG_2105 (768x1024)After lunch we walked the trail (initially cleared by my Uncle and kept up by his son) to Aunt Irene’s house, where we enjoyed piano and pie. A perfect day.