It is said you have to love farming to keep doing it and we did. It was not a job but a way of life, a ritual repeated day in day out with exciting and unexpected events both good and bad. We loved the animals and loved the land.
Dick had grown up near Boston and I in New England, both urged to take a secure way of life, we abandoned those paths each in our own way to chart a new and interesting way of life. Dick’s cows had broken out of the fences and came to visit my horses in the town of Ashfield, Massachusetts where we then lived. My friend and I rounded them up and returned them to their home where a new farmer had recently rented an old farm. Dick, my future husband, was not there that day (probably off partying!), but I was to meet him soon and became enchanted by him, his cows and that pretty tiny daughter. He was later to ask if it was him, the cows or daughter Jaka that entranced me.
I had been a traveling art teacher for about five years, but realizing that even now I still did not like school, I took a leave of absence. I concentrated on my artwork and sold it in art and craft fairs in the New England area as well as galleries from Rockport, Massachusetts to Norfolk, Virginia. I also waited on tables, picked apples and helped milk a neighbors Holstein cows.
Dick had attended Brown University and graduated with a degree in political science. He also played bass in a rock band during college and after, being a back up for some of the industries very well known as well as having the bands own gigs. After graduation he worked at the University of Massachusetts as an advisor and because he had a little land he got an old tractor and some haying equipment.
Then he got a Jersey calf to raise, loved her. When she grew and had a calf, he milked her and decided if he had to milk one, he might as well milk two. Well, that kept progressing until he established a small herd and started to ship milk. He left his job at UMass and took the interesting life. That step led him to Ashfield where our paths crossed that day his cows broke out.
Horses were my first love animal and always will be but cows fascinated me with their quiet grounded energy and giving souls. The farm I milked for near me in Ashfield was owned by a man born on the same day as myself but forty years before. Ted Howes, was a fussy (that is good) farmer who had Holstein cows, the large black and whites, as well as an apple orchard and he put up the best hay around. I liked working with him and the quiet animals that he always treated gently and slowly.
Way back, when we lived in Maine, there was a giant old farm that my mother, father, aunts and uncle worked and had a restaurant guest house. My uncle had a Guernsey cow. I used to love to go out to the barn with him in the morning and watch him milk, and when the cow had a calf, it was fun to go and help feed it. And I think this inspiration created my desire to spend a life with cows.
When I met Dick’s Jersey cows, the smallest breed with high content milk, I was especially entranced. These small cows have a lot of energy and expressive faces that called me in. Some were like jesters, playing tricks and laughing afterward. Dick and I saw each other more and more often, and I started to help him on his farm and came to the realization that he did need a lot of help, between his farm and his little girl, and I really loved helping him. At a point, he was invited by a large Jersey herd, Howard Farm in Tyringham, Massachusetts, to bring his herd and act as a herdsman. He took the offer and I went with him, leaving my life in beautiful Ashfield behind.
Tyringham was another very beautiful farm, but it was a very large farm. Dick’s cows kind of got lost in the large group. There was a rotary parlor, one of the very first in existence. And that was exciting, and high-tech. But we longed to have our own farm. In the fall of 1977, on November 19th, his birthday, we were married. It was that winter that we began our search for our own farm.