Beautiful farms with beautiful barns have always intrigued me. Even though some of the greatest dairy cows in history started their career in meager surroundings, it makes one wonder what went through their minds when they arrived at their palatial new surroundings. When Snowboots Wis Milkyway landed at Paclamar in Colorado, she must have thought she had died and went to heaven from her place of birth on the prairies of Kansas. Jan Com Fond Mat Matilda arrived at beautiful Pinehurst Farm from Texas, where housing was adequate but a far cry from extravagant. The Jerseys that found their way to Heaven Hill in New York, from farms in Iowa and southern Indiana where they had been tied in their stalls with baling twine, surely must have adapted to the good life with pleasure. Golden Jester Jessie and Jester J Royal Julia were milked and cared for just that way on a small farm in Iowa before hitting the big time at their forever home at Heaven Hill Farm. I have had the good fortune of visiting several of these farms and here are some of my favorites:
Lakeside Farm, Elkart Lake Lake, Wisconsin. Everything about this place was perfect. As the name implied it sat on a gorgeous lake. The barn held around fifty head in tie stalls with a few box stalls on the end. Even though the barn and surroundings were beautiful, it was how it was kept up which set it apart. The manager Ray Brubacher was known to pick a single strand of hay if it had missed the broom.
Happy Valley Farm, Danville, Kentucky. Driving down the long picturesque lane was something to behold with beautiful trees, manicured lawns and a beautiful southern mansion right before you arrived at the barns. The first barn had a tiny office as you stepped in the door with two box stalls housing well-known champions. (In later years that would be HVF Gareths Samares and Marlu Fanfare Miladys Carat). Across from the office was a small lineup of tie stalls where younger cows were kept. Barn number two was the “jaw dropper”. In this barn were twenty box stalls with the “who’s who” of the Jersey breed. Cows such as Generators Topsy, Milestone One Carat, Sleeping Rosanna, and more were each in wood stained box stalls with their banners on the wall and well as beautiful hand painted signs. The walk way between the stalls was covered with shavings that were raked several times a day in a pattern.
Hetherington Farm, Glendale, Ohio. Located right in the suburbs of Cincinnati, this barn housed fewer than 25 head in a tiny barn. The cows were kept like they were at a show and were hand walked as to not disrupt their beautiful paddocks. At the beckoning of the farms owners a certain cow would be brought out, brushed off, tail fluffed, horns polished and led down to the “main house” so the owners could view her. On a given day more than one cow would be shown to the owners. Adjacent to the main house was a kennel for world champion Fox Terriers. I can’t even imagine what went through Master’s Gem Alpha’s mind when she stepped off the truck from West Union, Iowa, to Hetherington!
Pinehurst Farms, Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. The back page of the Holstein World was considered the ultimate when it came to advertising in the 40’s-90’s. When David Bachmann landed this spot he highlighted his beautiful Holstein cows. These cows became famous with their incredible show winnings and targeted ads and when you opened the door to the huge barn you were not disappointed. The main barn housed near one hundred head in head-to-head tie stalls with box stalls on the end. The stalls were elevated to give visitors a great view and of course they were kept like champions with tails washed daily and constant brushing. Every day was visitor day and it would be a rarity if the farm did not have a visitor. The stall signs above the cows were updated after each test and classification. A wing to the main barn housed the calves and mature bulls. There were times at the farm where ten or more cows
and bulls scored 95 points or higher were housed in these beautiful barns. This extravagant barn complex, built at the turn of the century, burned in 1983 and a state of the art duplication was built on the same spot. Ten years later these beautiful barns would also burn marking the end of the line for Pinehurst Farm as it was known. A golf course now stands on these hollowed grounds.
Romandale Farm, Unionville, Ontario. It would be a huge injustice to the farm to use such a word as impressive as that would not do it justice with the rows of beautiful, mostly homebred cows. The uniformity of the group was something to behold. The magnificent barns had massive haymows that ran the length of the stable. Two rows of box stalls housed the “special” cows, most near a ton in size. My one visit to Romandale was during one of their famous sales. P.T. Barnam had nothing on Steve Roman with the big tops and circus like atmosphere, and just like the circus when the show started you better hold on to your seat as you were going to see sights and sounds like you had never seen before.
Hanover Hill Farm, Port Perry, Ontario. What is truly amazing, now nearly thirty years after the last Hanover Hill dispersal, is how the barn and this group of cattle was kept with such a minimal work staff. With strict, almost military regiment the cattle were kept in perfect condition with a bare bones staff, 80+ cows and each one was ready for inspection any time of the day which was important because in
the glory days there would be visitors from dawn till dusk or a little before or after. Few people loved cows like Peter Heffering and the fact that he virtually lived in the barn made that apparent. As you opened the beautiful wood door (wood from California) the first door to your left was the huge office that displayed the hundreds of Banners, trophies and artifacts from years of extended show circuits. As
you walked through the office was another door into Heffering’s beautiful apartment and living quarters. That’s correct; the world’s foremost breeder of dairy cattle lived in his barn. Back to the main barn, to the right were two rows of tie stalls back to back and to the right were two rows of box stalls housing World Champions, Charity, Kandy, Rachel and more. A visit to Hanover Hill would never be duplicated.
Hilltop Hanover Farm, Yorktown Heights, New York. This farm was as close to New York City as you could get without being in Manhattan. The county in which it was located at one time had more millionaires per Capita than any other county in the U.S. it was said. The farm had been designed to house a herd of Guernseys but after a couple of fires and some huge remodeling the Hilltop Hanover Holsteins called it their home. Although the barns were not gaudy by any stretch they were beautiful
and a big sliding door at the end exposed one of the farms best cows standing right on the end, be it Hillranch Fond Matt Jean or one of similar stature. The farm manager was an early riser and as he would “bellow” out, “the cows were brushed and the tails would be washed and “FANNED” out before breakfast at 7:00 a.m. Two rows of tie stalls, back to back with 6 box stalls on the end made for one pretty sight when the investors from the city would come to visit their prized Holsteins.
Maytag Farms, Newton, Iowa. As you crest the hill from the south Maytag Farms comes into view. Glorious and stately the barns, which housed more All-Americans during the farm’s existence than any other breeding establishment, present a beautiful view. The farm sported a main barn with back-to-back tie stalls, a test cow barn with two rows of box stalls, a bull barn complex with room for 6 or more
mature bulls and a calf barn for baby calves up to 8 months of age. At its peak the farm housed over 200 head of the world’s finest Holsteins. Factory-like in its design and function, it was easy to see that the barns were designed by Ed Maytag, one of the world’s greatest manufacturers.
Curtiss Candy Farms, Cary, Illinois. My visit to the “Holy Grail” of dairy cattle breeding and promoting was almost 20 years after the great herds of Guernseys, Holsteins, Ayrshires, Brown Swiss and to a much smaller scale Jerseys, were dispersed but the barns were still by the most part intact and the stories from the people that were a part were still fresh in their memories. The main barn designed by a prominent architect was home to 120 head in box stalls and tie stalls with an office complex, dormitory and vet offices at the main entrance. One person (pre barn cleaner days) would walk the entire group picking up piles of manure while another would remove dust and fly specs. ALL tails were washed daily and tails would be fluffed out after each cow was brushed. Those that remember would say the sight
upon opening the entrance to the barn would take your breath away.
These great farms were all owned by people of wealth and their cows were cherished and housed like queens in palaces, all different in many ways but yet the same in their purpose.
THESE COWS ARE LADIES, PLEASE TREAT THEM AS SUCH!