Randall Lineback Cattle

Vermont’s first official State Heritage Breed

Pond and Ice House

Posted on | February 25, 2009 | No Comments

It is not known if there was an ice house on the Phillips farm when the Randall family purchased it in March 1885. It was never mentioned in the journals of John S. Randall, which he kept until his death in 1886. It is surmised that an ice house was built shortly after the main barn was built in June 1889. The pond, and the ice it supplied, was a very important resource for cooling the milk from Forrest Randall’s herd of dairy cows; in fact, it became a necessity as the dairy farm continued to grow.

Pond and ice house on south side of North Country Road c.1900.

Pond and ice house on south side of North Country Road c.1900.

Early pictures show a two-story ice house with three doors on a stone foundation. Several newspaper accounts from the Port Jefferson Echo, a local newspaper, mention Forrest Randall and his ice making. 

January 16, 1904 “Forrest Randall had a gang of men at work monday and tuesday filling his ice house. The ice is nearly a foot thick, a few inches of the top layer being snow ice” 

Feburary 2, 1907 “Forrest Randall and James H. Hopkins have been taking advantage of the recent cold weather to replenish their stock of ice” 

November 27,1909 “Forrest Randall has taken down his old ice house and is building it up new” The 1909 ice house pictured in 1950

The 1909 ice house pictured in 1950

The reason for the dismantling of the ice house in 1909 is not known, but after 20 years of service, it may have been rotting or new ideas and technology may have come into play. The photographic record shows a change in design in the new 1909 ice house: it now rested on a foundation of cement with walls that rise at least four feet on all sides except where the doors are located. At the time of this rebuilding, Forrest was nearly 40 years old.

Ice house and pond in 1950

Ice house and pond in 1950

In recorded interviews, Waldo Randall (born 1914) remembered that ice was always purchased for the home and the farm milk house. (Ice was purchased in 300 pound blocks from Long Island Ice and Fuel in Port Jefferson until the 1960s.) So the rebuilt ice house, by the 1920s, was no longer needed or used. The building sat as a relic of the past until the early 1950s. 

 

As the milk processing facility grew, so did the use of water for cooling the milk and cleaning the machinery. The clean water from the milk coolers was diverted to the pond. The waste water from the plant would be deverted to a cesspool. Sometime in the 1930s or ’40s, the pond went from a 1 to 2 foot depth to something much deeper in order to handle this waste water. At this time the rock wall in the pond was eliminated and the pond expanded away from the road. (A large rock on the east side of the pond was a place that generations of  children of the family and community used to fish and play on was left.)

 

 

Eloise Randall, Charlie Davis, Waldo and John Randall on "The Rock" with pond in background in 1919

Eloise Randall, Charlie Davis, Waldo and John Randall on "The Rock" with pond in background in 1919

So by the 1950s, during wet times the pond was overflowing into the cow pasture. Harry Randall took the building down to the foundation and installed an irrigation pump and motor inside. The roof was then replaced by Donald Murphy. This allowed the pond to be pumped out to irrigate the pasture and crop land. The pump originally had a Ford flat head engine on it, and when that finally failed, a PTO shaft was used  to be hooked up to the Farmall tractor. Once again, the pond and the Ice house had a use. This was used in this form till the mid 1960s. 

 

1970s view of ice house

1970s view of ice house

 Once again the building became a icon of times past. Unused except by the children at the farm whom used it as a place to play during rainy days as well as shelter for the winter time skaters.

Warne Randall with raft on the pond 1954

Warne Randall with raft on the pond 1954

The pond continued to be used for a water source for pastured animals and a place of play for generations of children. It was also the home of countless ducks, geese, fish and eels. (Sometime in the early 1970s someone put a trap filled with eels  from the Mt. Sinai harbor in the pond for keeping and some how they were released. For years the eels survived in the fresh water and when the pond flooded there were eels out in the pasture.)

 

 

The importance of the pond and its ice house cannot be underestimated. Without the water storage for pasturing animals, the ice to cool the milk, much of the growth of the farm could not have happened so early on. The importantance was noted by John S. Randall shortly after purchasing the farm in 1885. “Went to work on my pond” during a very dry summer. 

After the sale of the farm and development proposed in the 1980s the Town of Brookhaven preserved the pond and to have it left untouched. It is sad to note that the years since the pond has been slowly filled in and the natural drainage that once kept it with water has been so altered that it now just resembles a wet swampy area. This once valuable resource will undoubtly in the future be missed and would be needed once again as history has shown us in the last 100 yrs. 

A second pond was created around 1949. This pond was the by product of a 18 foot deep leaching field that was overwhelmed by the waste water from the bottle washer. For years it got bigger even though it was used to irrigate, and as a pasture water source for 55 to 65 cows. But in 1978 the water was tested by officials. They found the water to not contain enough oxygen and a treatment plant of sorts would be needed. This was not done and the days of processing milk were over. This pond was to the south of the barns and tended to be the best for skating. 

 

Randall Farms in art

Posted on | February 3, 2009 | 3 Comments

Randall Farms in the fall c. 1901 (Van Pelt)

Randall Farms in the fall c. 1901 (Van Pelt)

Since the late nineteenth century, Randall Farms was a popular place for artist to practice their craft. This started in the 1890s with William Van Pelt, a Brooklyn NY photographer who spent much time in the Mt. Sinai community photographing everyday life events. The Randall family and their farm were also the inspiration of many photos; the first were of the family home and post office.

Many photos were taken of Forrest B. Randall’s new barn, which he built in his late teens. One of the first photos taken of the farm was of the two story-ice house and the pond. It is assumed that Forrest was dabbling in names for his establishment, as this photo has an address label on the back, addressed to E.C.Randall PM Walnut Dairy Farm Mount Sinai L.I. NY. Eliza Catherine Randall was Forrest’s mother; she had taken over the postmaster’s job following the death of her husband John in 1886 until 1907. The Walnut Dairy Farm is very interesting, as it is the only reference to the farm being of this name. It is also interesting that at this point (c. 1900) it was a “dairy farm”, as the establishment of the industry was in its infancy but apparently Forrest had made the decision to focus on dairy.

More photos from the 1900 time period were taken by William Van Pelt, of different views of the barn, pond, cows and people.

Phillips-Randall House c. 1900

Phillips-Randall House c. 1900

Looking toward the Phillips-Randall house

Looking toward the Phillips-Randall house

The farm became a place for painters and photographers to frequent. Another famous photographer, A.S. Greene from Port Jefferson, also had photographed the family farm house/post office in 1907; this photo appeard on a postcard. In 1938, another postcard signd by local photographer Charles Davis and entitled “Filling Time” depicted the filling of the silo with corn.

Filling Time 1938 (Davis)

Filling Time 1938 (Davis)

Randall Farms (Econopoly)

Randall Farms (Econopoly)

Randall Farms 1947 (Zoeller)

Randall Farms 1947 (Zoeller)

In 1947, a wonderful painting was done by Robert Zoeller. Mr. and Mrs Zoeller were part-time residents of Mt. Sinai and were both well-known painters of the time. This painting was purchased by my grandmother, Marion Randall, as a gift to my grandfather, her husband Waldo.

 

Raymond Freemantle c.1950

Raymond Freemantle c.1950

Raymond Freemantle c.1950

Raymond Freemantle c.1950

During the 1950′s Raymond Freemantle painted water colors of the farm. In 1993 Estelle Econoply did a painting from a black and white photo of the pond and barn.

As farms disappeared from the scene on Long Island, Randall Farm became a subject of a time gone by for many professional and amateur artists of all kinds. If you have photos or art work of Randall farms, I would love to see it.1970's painting

1970′s painting

Calving problems: the twisted uterus

Posted on | January 4, 2009 | No Comments

Problems can happen during calvings. Sometimes quick attention is necessary, and with others you can wait and see what happens. Breed matters too; based on my experience, for example, because Holsteins are bred for size, they can more often have problems calving. This can be avoided by choosing a calving-ease bull to get a smaller calf. In our herd, virgin Holstein heifers are bred to Jerseys in hopes of avoiding calving problems.

A twisted uterus is a fairly common caving problem which can be very puzzling unless you know what to look for. Many of these are observed by just looking at the cow; she may look uncomfortable and “off”. Also she may start contractions as normal, but will give up after some time. This is a sure sign that something is amiss. If you are really tuned into your cows, you will notice a problem.

To be sure that this is what is wrong, put on a breeding glove. Go in anally and follow the curvex to the uterus; if this is the case, you will feel a quarter to half twist in the uterus. To fix this problem… call the vet if you are at all unsure of your skills!

You may be able to feel the calf while you are inside; you can hold on to a leg or something to feel for movement, to see if the calf is alive. If you are ok with fixing this yourself, use some iodine to disinfect the vulva and your arm. Use some lubrication if necessary, and go in vaginally and determine whether the twist is clockwise or counter-clockwise. Then go in as far as possible and try and turn the calf in the direction opposite to the twist. This is not easy to do; it takes a tremendous amount of upper body strength. Remember, you are moving a full-term calf! The cow may not be fully dilated, so please be gentle at first.

I have been successful at doing this myself about half the time; the other times, the vet will need to be called in. It is a judgement call that a cow owner must make, as many times the calf may be dead. So if it is your best cow, and the calf is alive, I would advise you to get to the phone as fast as possible.

Randall Farms book

Posted on | January 4, 2009 | 2 Comments

I am working on a book about the farm I was raised on. Randall Farms (formerly Arrowhead Farms) was a dairy farm in Mt. Sinai, Long Island. My family that has been involved in agriculture for over 300 years, including over 200 years on the north shore of Long Island. My family milked Guernseys and processed and bottled our own milk for over 50 years. We had door-to-door delivery as well as a wholesale route and drive-through farm store. We also picked up milk from other farms and bottled under other names. I have been collecting memorabilia, stories, history, and photographs of the farm for years now, and recently decided to assemble this information in book form.

Aerial photo of Randall Farms in the 1950s.

Aerial photo of Randall Farms in the 1950s.

My family’s farm was the center of the community for many years. The drive-through milk store brought hundreds of people each day to our once-small community to pick up their basic food stuff, share gossip, visit with friends. The Randall family was also a backbone for the local fire department, church and later a growing population.

I have recently found some milk bottles that none of my living relatives knew existed. They were some one-quart round pyroglazed bottles from the early 1940s. I have found all kinds of things that have given me a better understanding of events that happened before my time. I have tried many tactics to reclaim my family’s history, including craigslist.org, ebay.com, milk bottle collectors etc. to find these items. I even found a bottle that I did not have in a antique shop in Concord, NH. If only the bottle could tell the story of how it got there!

If you have any suggestions of where to find Randall Farms or Arrowhead farms memorabilia, people who had their milk delivered by us who may have stories, or anything else that is related in some way to our farm, I would love to hear from you. I am even interested in history, bottles, photos etc. of the other farms we bottled milk for. I will keep you updated of my finds. Many generous people have already helped me with my quest; I will share with you my finds, photos, and stories I am collecting.

Daisy gives birth to her third calf

Posted on | December 8, 2008 | No Comments

Daisy giving birth to her third calf.

Daisy giving birth to her third calf.

Pulling the calf out; one hand is around his front feet, the other on his nose.

Pulling the calf out; one hand is around his front feet, the other on his nose.

The calf's first feeding of colostrum.

The calf is getting his first feeding of colostrum.

Newborn calf. This little bull was donated to the Remick Farm Museum in Tamworth, NH.

Newborn calf. This little bull was donated to the Remick Farm Museum in Tamworth, NH.

This is a normal calving sequence featuring Daisy, one of my Randall Linebacks. Lucky for all of us, everything went smoothly!

Welcome Randall Lineback and Dairy Enthusiasts

Posted on | December 7, 2008 | 1 Comment

Hi everyone! In case you don’t already know me, let me introduce myself and my intentions for my new blog. I live in northern Vermont and I am a life long farmer (dairyman). I have spent most of my life working with dairy cows. I have been working with the Randall Linebacks for about 5 years now as a pet project. I am a director in the Randall Lineback Breed Association and a rare breeds conservationist.

In April 2006, one of my cows, Daisy, and I traveled to Vermont’s capital. Daisy was to represent the Randall Lineback breed, for the passing of a new Vermont law to designate that breed as Vermont’s first state heritage breed. I was responsible for the introduction of the bill, and am proud to have seen it through to becoming law with the signature of Governor Douglas.

At home, I also do much of my own vet work, artificial insemination, and nutrition management for all the cows in the dairy herd, including Jerseys, Holsteins, Brown Swiss and, yes, Randall Linebacks.

My objective for this blog is to record day-to-day events, as well as more unusual things that occasionally happen, in a commercial dairy farm. I would also like to share my knowledge and offer any help that I can to make the bovines of the world happier, healthier and more productive for the people who work with them.

Ask any questions you may have concerning your own cows, whether they are Randall Linebacks or any other breed. If you do have Randall Linebacks I would love to hear from you and invite you to share your experiences and photos. And I am always looking to learn something new too! Thanks and enjoy.

Daisy and Dolly Come Home

Posted on | December 5, 2008 | No Comments

Due to the dairy barn being full for the winter, there was no room for my “pets” project… so my Randall Linebacks, Daisy and Dolly, had to come home. I built them a small loafing shed next door at my woodworking shop, pulled it down the road with my tractor, intsalled 1200 feet of fence and brought my cows home. Daisy and Dolly will be outwintering here at home this year!

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About

Randall Linebacks are a rare breed of cattle which originated in Vermont and are steadily gaining popularity. Here you will find photos and stories about my own Randall Linebacks, as well as my experiences on New England dairy farms.

My childhood home, Randall Farms of Mt. Sinai, NY is also a subject near and dear to me. I have been collecting photos and memories and will share some of them here.

(The name is a coincidence; historic Randall Farms and the Randall Lineback breed bear no known connection.)

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