Marshall Historical Society

Dairying in the 1940's
Dorothy McConnell

Every little farm had a few cows at that time. There were many milk plants around the towns in central New York. Clinton had Queensboro. Deansboro had Hinman Milk Plant. Oriskany Falls had Jetter plant. Waterville had Bordens. At Marshall Station, near Davies, was the Renkin plant. And there were Dairylea plants in Vernon and Utica. At that time the Town of Marshall had around 125 dairy farms. Milk was strained and put into cans, which were cooled on the farm. Some trucked their cans individually to the nearest location. Other larger truckers would pick up several people's milk to go to Vernon or Utica.

On March 28, 1940 there was a huge snow storm and the banks and drifts blocked many from arriving at their milk plant. Some men were able to use sleighs to haul their milk to market. Of course Route 12 on the Paris Hill - New Hartford Road was closed, but even the Large plow of the Town of Marshall was unable to open the road. This happened on Easter Sunday and roads were finally opened on Tuesday. Some thought the storm was as bad as the one in 1888. One of the reasons roads were impassable was that the powerful plows were stuck in the huge snow drifts blown in by the three day storm.

Hay making McConnell FarmAfter we were married in 1949 the McConnells sent their milk to Dairylea in Utica. Bert Excell and his brother Fred had a large truck which took several farmers' milk. Our number was F5; Lee's was F1 and the Excell milk and the O'Dowd's were some of the others. All of the cans were emptied, washed and sent back to the farmer for the next day's use. In those early days everything was done by hand: hand milking, hand cleaning manure from the gutters, and hand throwing ensilage down out of the silo and into a basket for each cow. Hay was loaded on a wagon loose and taken to the top of the mow with a horse fork, which slid along a metal rack at the top of the barn and a rope tripped it in the proper mow.

Corn was cut in the field with a corn harvester and taken to the silo in a wagon. Here it was chopped and sent up into the silo.

Reaping grain McConnell FarmThings are certainly different today with more cows. Many things are less work now with machines and pipeline which takes the milk directly into the bulk tank, where it is immediately cooled. Ensilege and haylege have an automatic unloader and go into a cart which travels along in front of the cows and drops a certain amount for each cow. Feed comes in bulk and a bulk tank truck comes to the farm each day to unload milk and take it to Vernon. Hay is baled either in oblong bales or large round ones. These are stored under cover when possible. We went from a handful of cows back then to around 55 milkers in 2006. Corn is chopped in field and taken to the silo by wagon where a blower sends it up into the silo.

In 1949 every place on Post Street was a dairy farm (8 - 10 places).

Today, in 2006, the McConnells' is the only dairy farm there. Stricker, Schachtler, and Goldstein are some of the others in the locality. The Town of Marshall is down from 125 to 24 active dairymen.

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