Sunday, February 26, 2017

Winter, Cows, Fog, The Old Town of Eaton Museum and Me!

Burchard Farm as it used to look...still standing in Pine Woods
It seems everyone has been down with something health wise this winter.  For those that haven’t been affected physically they have been depressed by the ups and downs of the weather.  I myself am one!  It had to be tough on animals with near zero to mid sixties and back again. This got me thinking about the cows, yes the cows.
Few people realize the role the Town of Eaton has played in the history of the Holstein-Friesian breed whose relatives still dot the countryside today.  Many know of Gerrit Smith Miller and his famous cow, but few realize that the Chenango Breeders Association brought the first actual breeding herd here from Holland in the 1800’s.  As a matter of fact the group of Eatonites included Sylvester Burchard, Charles Payne and a very interesting man called by many Deacon (Alva) Cole.  As a matter of fact Burchard and Payne wrote the rules the breed was judged by. (I have some of Cole’s and Burchard’s artifacts and pictures in the Old Town of Eaton Museum.) It is also interesting to note that the old Burchard Farm was the first dairy in Madison County.
So with that being said… the “FOG” we had the other night down here made me think of a good story I remembered. One of the many things I did not realize when I move here was the meaning of the term “leavings”.  Old Nellie Wooten always would say as she went here or there that there were a mess of leavings. Okay, what are leavings? But not inquiring…. I would just shrug my shoulders and figure it was something or other. I finally realized the actual meaning once, which made sense months later.
It was a hot spring week, but the nights were still quite cool, and my cat Chat my cat woke me up and kept running to the side door. I got up and followed him as Chat was very smart, and I assumed some- thing was wrong. As we went out onto the porch I could hear this mooing that sounded eerie. It was dancing in the thick pea soup fog that had arisen. It seemed to be moving at one point, then sounded as if it was in my back yard, but neither the cat or I could see anything.
The next morning I went across the street to my neighbor Mike Curtis’ and asked, “Were there cows loose running around town last night”? He just laughed at me. ”It’s the fog, it makes everything sound that way!” I walked over to Bob Rollins, struck up a conversation and told him about it. He said, “Oh the fog can really fool you; it was for sure the farm up above.” He told me a story about how some local men had been lost in the local swamp after going bullhead fishing because the fog was so thick. He said they even had to send a search group after them when they did not return home! Something I stored in my memory should I ever go bullhead fishing in a swamp in spring! 
Just then Nellie came strolling down the street heading “over town” as she called it. I greeted her and asked her if she had heard cows roaming in the back yards last night. She said no but asked if I had looked in my back yard for leavings!
Ah, leavings. All of the bells and whistles went off in my head: leavings! Sure enough, there were cow leavings, and the piles of stuff that they left were quite visible. Even today I politely call them leav- ings!

So csome to the old Town of Eaton this Spring and view “Cow” history!

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