Friday, May 21, 2010
I grew up in town but spent most of my time on Merle's Farm out on Route 98 in upstate NY. Merle was my grandmother's maiden name and there is a road out there named after them that runs into Glor Road which was my grandfather's family. Arthur and Florence (everyone I knew under the age of 55 called them Grandpa and Grandma) were the patriarch and matriarch of the Merle family which included 4 sons and 1 daughter. Their son Bruce and his wife Julie (Uncle Bruce and Aunt Julie to me) were my second family while my mom worked swing shifts as a nurse. Growing up it was a thriving dairy farm with a huge chicken coop, maple business, and a roadside stand for sweet corn and other vegetables and fruit.
Each son had an area of the operation that was his own; my Uncle Bruce dealt with the fields and feed, Douglas with the Holsteins, Milton the chicken coop, and Lyle the maple business. Now, all that is really left of the farm that makes any money is the maple business. My Uncle still runs the barn that houses other farms' heifers and grows grows feed. Lyle and his family keep Merle Maple going but, at the age of 90 something, my Grandma Merle runs the show.
As the sons grew older and the reality of upstate NY economics took their tolls on small family dairy farms all across the county none of the kids wanted to take over the farm. They gave me my first doses of real hard work at a very young age. Getting up at 3:30 am to do the first milking, cutting wood in the winter for fuel all year long, tapping maple lines, and my first real paid job milking cows after school.
So here is to all those small dirt farmers still trying to make it. Buy local fuckers.