CGP Community Stories

Derwin Utter, December 15, 2015

Title

Derwin Utter, December 15, 2015

Subject

Agriculture
Sprout Brook, NY
Dairy Farming

Description

Derwin Utter, known to friends and family as Darry, was born in 1934 and grew up in Sprout Brook, New York on his family’s farm. After attending Cherry Valley School, Darry began his career as a dairy farmer on his father’s farm and then purchased his father’s farm with his younger brother, Dean. From there, Darry expanded his single farm to three different properties in the Sprout Brook and Cherry Valley area. He and his brother produced milk, grew hay and corn, and raised pigs, cows, and chickens. Darry is a third-generation dairy farmer and his comments on the transformations in farming techniques and technology reflect his experience in the agriculture industry.

The evolution of farming equipment, from the use of horses to the introduction of the tractor and the use of computers in machinery, are only a few of the changes that occurred in the agriculture industry from the 1930’s to the present. These changes presented new challenges and benefits for farmers. More technology led to faster harvesting and more efficient milking, but it also led to the creation of large, corporate farms that could potentially dominate and take out smaller family owned farms. Not only that, but in recent generations, changes in lifestyle and work ethic have contributed to the disappearance of family farms. Small farms have been slowly revived by the Amish families who have adopted small farming practices in the Upstate New York Cherry Valley area.

I interviewed Darry at his residence in Cherry Valley, New York. His recollections vary from opinions on family life, farming techniques, technology development, to the use of pesticides and the farm-to-table movement. There is also a secondary narrator in the interview, Darry’s wife, Roseta. I have taken the liberty of editing the transcript to create a more readable narrative of the interview and removed false starts and a variety of filler words. I encourage researchers to take the time to listen to the full recording to get a more complete sense of Darry’s knowledge and passion for the agriculture industry.

Creator

Cassidy Mickelson

Publisher

Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York-College at Oneonta

Date

2015-11-16

Rights

Cooperstown Graduate Association, Cooperstown, NY

Format

audio/mp3
28.8mB
audio/mp3
31.1mB
image/jpeg
2448 x 3264 pixels

Language

en-US

Type

Sound
Image

Coverage

Upstate New York
Cherry Valley, New York
1934-2015

Interviewer

Cassidy Mickelson

Interviewee

Derwin Utter

Location

355 County Hwy 32
Cherry Valley, NY

Transcription

Cooperstown Graduate Program
Oral History Project Fall 2015

DU = Derwin Utter
CM = Cassidy Mickelson

[START OF TRACK 1, 0:00]

CM:
This is the November 16, 2015 interview of Derwin Utter by Cassidy Mickelson for the Cooperstown Graduate Program’s Research and Fieldwork course recorded at 355 County Highway 32, Cherry Valley, New York. So Darry, where did you grow up?

DU:
Right here in Sprout Brook.

CM:
Sprout Brook? What did your parents do?

DU:
Farmers.

CM:
And what did that entail?

DU:
They ran a dairy farm. They raised chickens, turkeys, pork, and beef, things the farmers had back then, grain and corn.

CM:
How long did your parents have the farm?

DU:
Well, I was born in ‘34, so they had the farm then. Probably fifty years maybe that they owned the farm.

CM:
Had your family owned the farm before that too, before your parents?

DU:
Yes, my grandfather did.

CM:
So how long had the farm been in your family then overall?

DU:
Overall would be, eighty or ninety years.

CM:
Did you have chores and things you had to do before you went to school? What was that like?

DU:
Yes, usually we had barn chores to do and whatever else was there to do is what we did. Never thought about [it], you know, you just did it and you got on the bus and went to school.

CM:
How early in the morning did you have to get up before school?

DU:
When we were in school, we got up probably around seven o’clock to get the bus, about seven-thirty or eight o’clock, and had a full day of school. Then we came home, changed clothes, got something to eat, had barn chores to do, feed calves, pigs and chickens. At night we’d just play and get ready to go to school the next day.

CM:
How many siblings did you have?

DU:
How many what?

CM:
Siblings

DU:
Just my brother, one.

CM:
Just you and your brother, what is your brother’s name?

DU:
Dean

CM:
Dean, how much older?

DU:
Younger

CM:
Younger, how much younger was he than you?

DU:
He’s five years younger than I am

CM:
Where did you go to school?

DU:
Here in Cherry Valley, they had five or six one room school houses in the area but the house was on the border, so a lot of them were closed so we went to Cherry Valley School.

CM:
What was your favorite subject in school?

DU:
Sports

CM:
Sports [laughing]

DU:
And we took agriculture and that’s what I liked the best was the agriculture part, and sports so that’s about all I can say about the school part of it.

CM:
What did you learn about in agriculture class? That’s not something we have these days in our school.

DU:
There isn’t that much agriculture anymore. I mean small farms are gone, and now there are big ones. A lot of people that we grew up with now are of course older and the young ones don’t farm it anymore, no new one’s starting up. You don’t get any young ones to have agriculture in school anymore. They have a very good BOCES program now.

CM:
A what program?

DU:
A BOCES [Board of Cooperative Educational Services]

CM:
Could you explain that?

DU:
They go to Milford, the kids do that they want go there and they learn carpentry, computers, and food service. They learn all that lot of stuff down there and they graduate, some go to college. In our family we’ve had some of them go to college, some go out in the work place. They always seem to have a job when they leave that down there. So that’s what happens to agriculture now; it’s gone the other way to something else.

CM:
So you said there aren’t a lot of young people that are willing to take over farms or there aren’t a lot of young farms. Did you find that any of your children wanted to take over your business after?

DU:
No. Only one, my nephew, he’s the one that has the farm now.

CM:
Okay

DU:
We made them all go away and they couldn’t come home until they decided what they wanted to do. If they wanted to come back to the farm and then they could. But just one of them, he hated the outside world, so he came back to the farm.

CM:
And what’s his name?

DU:
Matt Utter

CM:
So does he still run the dairy farm for you?

DU:
He owns it now, yeah, Dean and I both retired, so he owns it.

CM:
You had agriculture classes in school– did you always know that farming was something that you wanted to do?

DU:
Yes, yes, I always knew I wanted to farm. In fact, I never did anything else. In the time I was born till I was sixty when I retired from the farm, it’s all I’ve ever done. I love the farm. I’d do it all over again if I could.

CM:
You never had any aspirations to go do anything else, it was always just farming?

DU:
Yeah, it’s the way I was brought up and I just liked it. My brother, he went away for two years and then he come back on the farm, so then we became partners and farmed for thirty years.

CM:
Your parents owned the dairy farm and then did you just come into possession of it or how did that process work?

DU:
We bought it from our dad, he passed it on to us and we bought it from him. That’s how we got the farm, that’s how we got started. Our dad helped us.

CM:
Can you explain to me more about dairy farming? I know that you milk cows but what is the process? Do you have seasonal farming? Is there something along those lines? How does the process work? Is it just a constant, you’re churning out milk?

DU:
Milk, yes. That is constant. All the time, yes. You had your spring growing season of course, summer you’re haying, corn in the fall. The milk business is 365 days a year. It’s something you have to be there for. There’s no just letting it go on Christmas time or anything, you have to keep milking the cows.

CM:
So you and your brother were in a partnership? How did that work? Was someone more in charge than someone else or were you both even partners?

DU:
Equal. He had certain jobs. I had certain ones, but we’d always milk cows together. And we had our time off. It worked out very well. He was more of a cow man, and I liked the crops and that stuff. That’s how we worked it out, worked out well.

CM:
You had crops and milk, who did you sell to? Did you have your own local front?

DU:
No, it went to a milk company, Dairylea. That was shipped there by cans first then we went from there to bulk tanks. It changed as the machinery changed. We changed, always had updated machinery and tried to keep it updated anyway. It worked out very well.

CM:
What was it like for you raising a family while having a farm? Was that difficult?

DU:
No, very good for the kids. They learned work ethic. The best place in the world to raise kids is on a farm because they always had to work. Beech-Nut used to say they always liked to hire farm kids because they weren’t afraid to work. That’s the way farm life is, still is. The big farms that had families, they all worked, that’s why they got started making us work.

CM:
You said you said you had cows, what other animals did you have on the farm?

DU:
Pigs, chickens, turkeys, that was about it. We raised pigs of course for meat, chickens and turkeys. Mom used to raise some turkeys and sell them. But it got so that she almost had to put them in the oven for them. So she quit that job.

CM:
And then for crops you had corn, you said?

DU:
Corn, hay, oats, that was the main crops. Some wheat, that was a main crop.

[TRACK 1, 11:17]

CM:
Outside of farming did you have any other hobbies that you were involved with in your community? Were you involved outside of just the farm?

DU:
Like clubs? Yeah, Fish and Game, I belonged to that and we did some ballroom dancing for a long time, my wife and I did. I bowled, bowling, did that. I hunted, of course. We were busy working, we didn’t have too much time. The bowling and dancing was all night stuff. That was about the extent of it. And our wives both had jobs outside too. We had free time to do other things but those were the main things.

CM:
You said your wife had a job, what did she do?

DU:
She was secretary down at Canajoharie School. She said she never left school. For thirty-five years she worked down there as a secretary.

[TRACK 1, 12:55]

CM:
So can you describe to me what a typical day on your farm would have been like? How would have started the morning, what you would have done all day? What your routine was?

DU:
We usually were up around 5:30 and milked the cows and came home for breakfast. Then you went back to the farm, took care of the cows, fed them, let them out, and cleaned the barn. It depended on the time of year, you were so busy in the summertime that when you got chores done, you went right to the crop. In the spring of the year you went right to sowing and planting corn and from there it was haying time, you did that all summer long. Maybe not all summer long, but just about. Then it would soon be time to cut corn and put it in the silo, that was your daily routine. And you did a lot of odd jobs around the farm that needed to be done, fixing and stuff like that. It’s hard to talk about or explain to someone what’s going on on a farm. People really don’t realize the things you have to do and get done to run a good farm and keep it going. We were lucky enough to come in at the time when machinery was used instead of the horses. In fact, Dean and I did just a little bit with the horses, then of course tractors and hay balers and all of that stuff was coming in, the combines. We kind of hit that period. So that we were lucky on that part, easier than using horses.

CM:
You’ve seen a lot of changes in technology from when your parents ran the farm until now, will you speak to that a little bit, tell me about how it used to be versus what it’s like now or even how you see it changing even more?

DU:
When I was seven or eight years old, my dad had horses and all that in 1945. He still had horses, he had a tractor too, but all that stuff had just begun. Every year tractors changed and you got different machinery. I can remember getting a new hay baler, I was 11 years old. My dad said, “You sit on that and ride because you got a job right there.” You had to hook wires onto it as the hay came through, they had a thing on there that would split the bale and they pushed the wire around, then you had to sit there and hook it. That’s what I did that very first summer. He stopped the hay loader and used to put on loose hay, stopped it right there and went to the baler. Same way with the combine. First we had the reaper and binder and the first combine came along, so we really kind of lucked out on the horse business. It has changed. I’d love to get into one of those big new tractors but they’re loaded with computers now. That’s how much we’ve seen it change, where you can set a tractor in the field, you’re in it, push a button, and that tractor will go down the field by itself and when it gets down to the end, it rings the bell and wakes you up, that’s why they put the bell on there because sometimes they doze off, but anyway, that’s the technology they’ve got today. I don’t think I could run one today with the technology that they’ve got, but it would be fun to try. That’s how much we have seen change through the years. And of course veterinary is a lot better than it used to be. We’ve seen quite a lot of changes in everything. Another thing when we were growing up, we went to the Sprout Brook Store. They had a grocery store on one side and a Walmart on the other side for clothing and that. They had a small feed store and they had another garage with a gas station, both of them had gas stations. And of course they had the bar on the corner and the Grange on the other side. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of the Grange? It used to be a farm thing but that’s gone now, where the farmers met. I never belonged to it because it was out of business before, I didn’t bother with that stuff.

CM:
Didn’t bother with what stuff?

DU:
The Grange, what they called the Grange, but that was where the farmers met for meetings and stuff like that. It was in Sprout Brook. They had a school house there, a beautiful school house which is a house now and has been for years and that was the community, where you went. Salt Springville, that’s another place up the road, they had the same thing, they had a store with clothes and all that and they would deliver around too. They had a truck that they went around with back then. Then you went to Cherry Valley. They had seven or eight garages, the bank and they even had a jewelry store. In fact, the lady that used to run the diamond store, I’ll call it, she is still alive and I think she’s 100 years old now.

CM:
Wow.

DU:
The train came into Cherry Valley too, so they shipped milk out, hay sometimes. I can just remember my father filling that with hay, baled hay. They had a lot of feed stores and it was booming until the road went around, then it all went ka-boom. They took the train out. That was some of the stuff that was in when I was growing up that I can remember. Of course we went to school in Cherry Valley. Slow days, very quiet, very nice, a lot better than today. Everybody’s in a hurry, got to get there, got to hurry up and get there. So, that’s your farm life.

CM:
What was the most challenging part about running your farm? What did you find you struggled with the most or maybe a time period that was very difficult for your farm?

DU:
Well, everyday was a challenge. Everyday. Nearly lost our herd once, due to feed, they got sick but we had a very good veterinarian that saved them for us. You had to run into stuff like that. I can’t explain it to you because everyday was something different. It’s hard to explain that, everyday is a different day. You never knew what you were going to find. You might find a broken water bucket, water all over the place, you could find a sick cow that was down. Calves got sick. Not everyday was something wrong, but that was some of the challenges you had. Weather. Trying to get crops in with the weather and stuff like that. There was something going on most of the time.

CM:
Did you guys have a vet that constantly came out, one vet for your farm?

DU:
No, he went all over, our vet went all over. He covered a lot of farms. You’d just call him and he’d come, just like the doctor used to come to your house. Only he did it all the time, whenever you wanted him. Calves, and pregnancy checks and all that stuff that farms do.

CM:
How many cows did you have?

DU:
We started out with forty and we got up to sixty, sixty-five. Now, my nephew is up to one hundred and twenty-five. That was enough for the two of us. We owned three farms. The main farm is down there in Sprout Brook, then my dad used to live over here and we own this far here and then we bought this one here actually too, so we had about five hundred acres I think it was, something around there. So that kept me busy.

CM:
As your amount of cows increased, did you take on more land?

DU:
That was the reason yes, we had to have more land. This farm came along so we grabbed it up. See that big picture right there, that’s this farm. The lady that lived here, she used to be my babysitter and one day she came into the office down where Roseta was and wanted to know if Derwin would like a picture. Roseta said sure, and this is what she brought in.

CM:
Wow, that’s great. [looking at picture of barn and farmhouses]

DU:
And she made several pictures of Cherry Valley that she sold so that she could go on a senior trip, so that’s who lived here. And he was a farmer here too, he had bought about 25 cows, I guess it was. That’s how we picked up more land, which we had to do.

CM:
Since you retired, what have you been doing with your time?

DU:
Oh busy all of the time, Roseta, how many acres do we have here?

RU:
Three

DU:
Three, three acres here. Roseta has a lot of flowers, so I help her with that and I’ve kept myself quite busy. We travel quite a bit too, so that fills in holes and whatever. Some might say the retired don’t have anything to do, they don’t want to own three acres. I’ve had a very good retirement, very good.

CM:
Why do you think your kids didn’t want to come back and work the farm?

DU:
Hours. Eight hours, they only want to work eight hours and they just weren’t interested
in cows, they wanted to do something different. That’s because its 365 days a year and you have to be there. That happened with my brother and I quite a bit too because we could have time off. It’s pretty hard for a farmer that works by himself, it’s better than it used to be if they do have a small farm because you can have someone come in and milk for you but if you can’t, it’s everyday, all the time. It’s hard work and a lot of women don’t like it. If you’re going to get married, you better find a woman that likes farming or she won’t stay around. And it’s worse today than it used to be. You can’t blame the woman either; it’s a hard life and if you can’t find someone to buy your farm, that’s tough too. I was lucky that my nephew, he wanted it worse than I did. That’s the reason why a lot of young ones don’t want to farm it.

CM:
While you were still in the farming business, did you notice a lot of small farms disappearing?

DU:
Yes

CM:
Why do you think that was happening? Can you explain to me what was going on?

DU:
Well, you had to get bigger; there’s bigger farms coming in. There were no kids, didn’t take it on anymore. There was a salesman who used to come to the farm and he can tell me in Delaware County there was a road that he went up through—see I talk with my hands.

CM:
That’s fine.

DU:
He went up a road and there were eight farmers that he sold oil to, grease. He said that this was a long time ago and we were still farming it, he said he went through later on, one farm. He raised the kids, put them through college, they didn’t want anything to do with the farm, so they shut it down and then somebody else came along. The big one comes along and scoops that up and that’s how we see it happening. And that’s why we’re really glad the Amish are coming in because they’re taking over the farms that would grow up to brush. So that’s how we’ve seen it change right before our eyes.

CM:
The Amish have been buying farms?

DU:
Oh like crazy around here. Well not so much right here, but in the valley and up through the valley. They’re moving out of Penn[sylvania] and they farm a lot the way we used to farm it. Some have motorized tractors and stuff; they have gas-operated vehicles. They’re back. That’s brought farming back quite a bit, their way.

CM:
Can you tell me about how you feel about the whole organic movement? That’s big, organic and farm-to-table, people are getting into that. How do you feel about it?

DU:
I think it’s good. I mean people don’t want to get into this spray stuff. A lot of the farmers have done away with a lot of the spraying, but we have so much food that comes in that they have no regulation on, but you can’t grow enough of it, that’s the trouble. This is a big country, which you know, and it’s good. But you can’t grow enough of it that’s the trouble. One Texas farmer said he would have to own all of Texas twice I think he said to grow enough beef for the country. Lot of people here, so it takes a lot of food.

CM:
When you had crops did you and your brother ever use pesticides?

DU:
Yes, we used to use pesticides

[START OF TRACK 2, 0:00]

DU:
and we still do. It’s stuff that won’t hurt anybody now. You just can’t grow it [crops] without pesticides. They’re not as strong. DDT, they took that away because that killed the birds, their eggs so they don’t use that anymore. But you don’t know what other countries use, so that’s a whole thing there.

CM:
Did you see a lot of change in regulation as you went through farming? How did things progress and change?

DU:
Well, scientists worked to picked up on what wasn’t good, they decided companies just couldn’t have those pesticides anymore. You just went with whatever they told you to go with and stuff for the milk, there are shots that you give a cow, it doesn’t hurt anybody but the cows give more milk. Well people don’t want that in the milk so they’re trying to get them to get away from it. Well some get a little greedy. These big farms and they shoot them with this stuff, it won’t hurt you, I mean, it just makes the cow give more milk. My nephew used it for a little while, but then he said it was too much of a pain, he just didn’t want to monkey with it any more. See that stuff, people don’t want it in their milk regardless whether it would hurt you or not. But raw milk is the best milk anyway. You just went with it as it changed. That’s all I can explain.

CM:
Were there any politics with running your farm, competing with other small farms or against the big ones? How did that work?

DU:
Well, one farm was always trying to outdo the other one. If you had a big tractor, then he had to have a bigger one and if you had twenty-five cows, he’s [got to] have fifty cows. You just kept competing and today we have, maybe you know, we have real big farms now. Sometimes ten thousand cows. The small guy can’t keep up with that. But we still have small guys but it’s hard for them. Things are so expensive now and it really makes it hard for them.

CM:
Was it difficult to constantly be keeping up with the new technology changes?

DU:
Not too bad, no. Our milk prices couldn’t compete with what they were making, that’s the trouble today, that your milk price is lower and your machinery part is so high that’s what hurts. One time as we farmed it, they [parts] were a little higher but not much, but now there’s such a big span you know for a little farm it was real tough, and a lot of your big farms rent their machinery too. That’s the whole problem right there. My nephew just bought a hay thing that picks up round bales, twenty thousand dollars for it. And a brand new chopper, which he needs, which now he knows he’s going to have it hired done, was eighty thousand dollars. Tractor, two hundred and some thousand dollars for some of the tractors. Your milk price is not keeping up with them and that’s what hurts the small guy. Big guy, he doesn’t care, he just keeps buying and bank I guess keeps giving him money or they lease the tractors and stuff.

CM:
Was there a time on your farm when you had hired help or was it normally just you and your brother doing everything?

DU:
We hired the kids from town. They worked in the summertime, we had a few kids that worked year round for us, but most of them just in the summertime. It was nothing to get kids to come down and always had a lot of good kids.

CM:
How many?

DU:
In the summertime, just one until our kids got big enough that they could do more, so then we didn’t hire so many, but until our kids got big enough we hired outside kids to help. They helped weekends and stuff like that. But mostly it was just one in the summer. And anyone else who stopped in and wanted to work.

CM:
Did any of your kids really dig their heels in against trying to do farm chores?

DU:
No, it was what they knew they had to do. They started little and of course they were always playing in the barn when they’re little. They fed calves and stuff like that. And they played all of their stuff in school, they played their sports and whatever they had to do in school, but they never got balky, they didn’t know any different because that was the way you were brought up.

CM:
Can you tell me about how you met your wife?

DU:
Well this is my second wife.

CM:
Well then can you tell me about how you met her?

DU:
Well we just met, didn’t we? [yelling to the other room] She didn’t hear. We just met and we won’t go into details but, my one wife left, so then I met her.

CM:
And now you do all of your retirement traveling together?

DU:
We’re around each other 365 times a year right? [speaking to Roseta]

RU:
Yep.

DU:
We’ve had a good life, for 44 years we’ve been married.

CM:
Congratulations!

DU:
And we have, Roseta, how many kids do we have?

RU:
Seven, but we lost a daughter to cancer

CM:
I’m sorry for your loss.

RU:
So there are six living

DU:
And we have, how many great-grandchildren now?

RU:
We have 14 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

DU:
So I had four and she had three, there they are.

CM:
Oh my goodness, that’s great [looking at family photograph]

RU:
Now the one granddaughter, she’s on TV. She went to New York after graduation and she worked hard down there as a hostess in a restaurant and waited on tables and then she got involved in some modeling and she did commercials and have you heard of the program on TV, Royal Pains?

CM:
Yeah!

RU:
Well she was in that for several years and now she stars in NBC, the Night Shift.

CM:
Wow, that’s pretty cool, that’s crazy.

RU:
So that’s kind of exciting. We don’t see much of her anymore.

DU:
She went to New York City and never came back. She just got her license, she had it maybe two years now. She went down there to be a model, but you know how that goes. She did every job possible down there, she waited on tables, bartender, she didn’t care what she did.

RU:
She’s just turning 38.

DU:
So she just got her license, in fact she just got married. Nobody knew about it, did her mother know about it even?

RU:
Well she had said she wasn’t planning a big wedding, she wanted to save her money and put it in a house rather than spend thousands of dollars for a wedding, so that’s what she did, they had a civil ceremony down in New York City.

DU:
And we’ve had two boys, one in the Army and one in the Marines.

RU:
Grandsons.

DU:
Yeah, grandsons I should say. One went to Iraq and the other boy went to Afghanistan.

CM:
Did you ever serve any time?

DU:
No, only to the farm [laughter] No. I was kind of right in between there, I missed going into the service. Like I said, never left the farm.

CM:
If you could have done any other job, what do you think you would have done?

DU:
Construction, I love to run tractors and stuff like that. I never really gave it too much of a thought.

CM:
Do you have a favorite story from farming? Any really great memories?

DU:
No. I got to say no because it’s everyday is a great day. You’re your own boss but you’ve got to get the job done so everyday is a great day on the farm. I shouldn’t say that, some days were bad, some days were good, but as a rule, everyday is a good day.

CM:
So your farm was in your family for a very long, do you think it will stay in your
family? Do you think that after Matthew do you think there will be another generation?

DU:
I don’t know, he’s too young to really say. He only has the one boy and he’s got a girl too. I don’t know. Probably won’t be around to see it. He’s too little. I don’t know if there will or not, you’ll never know.

CM:
Would you have changed anything about your farm?

DU:
No. Nothing to change.

CM:
You talked about the changes in technology, was it always helpful to get more technology, or did it sometimes make things more difficult?

DU:
No, the technology was usually good. We went from milking cows by hand, which we didn’t do, went to milk machines, then we went to milking---

RU:
Did you tell her about the milking [inaudible] Matt has now?

DU:
No I didn’t get that far yet; I’m working on that. I got to try to think of pipeline milking, where the milk went from the cow right into the bulk tank.

CM:
What is that? How does that work?

DU:
Well you put the milk machine on the cow and then the milk goes, do you know anything about milk machines as all?

CM:
No, explain it to me!

DU:
Oh man, well it has air and pulsation goes on this milker and that goes back and forth and that’s what makes the cow let her milk down. Then it goes from there into a line, which the line will suck it from there over and into the bulk tank, this big tank in the milk house, so that’s the only way. It used to be that way, but then it went into a pail then you dumped it into another pail and then took it to the milk house and dumped it in, but of course as the technology comes along, it takes it right straight from the cow. Something like that is easier to show somebody, in fact I don’t even have a picture.

CM:
That’s okay, I think I understand what you’re saying.

DU:
Shut your thing off for a minute, just a second. [goes to other room and picks up magazine]

DU:
I want to show you something. [flipping through magazine] This is the way one room school houses used to be.

CM:
Is this what your school used to look like?

DU:
No, because I went to school in Cherry Valley and that was the big school, well they called it a big school then. But say they had fifty kids, I’m just guessing now, but that’s the way the one room school houses, and this is the way Amish schools still are. We went to a Christmas once for the Amish and when you walked in it was just like going back in time.

CM:
Your wife was mentioning something that Matthew has at his farm?

DU:
Oh, he has what I just showed you, only he milks, I think eight or nine cows at a time. His milking --- is a little different, that’s for a big outfit that one is. And that sucks it right into the tank, so that’s about the same. That’s all I can explain.

CM:
So you had that for milking and then for crops you said there were horses, did you have a lot of different kids of tractors?

DU:
Yep. We had one called an International Harvester and a Ford and a John Deere. My dad had a ‘34 [unclear] I’ll call it and he had another one in ‘35, same thing only a little bigger. And he had Ford tractors, he had three of them, and then we mostly had Fords, then we had two John Deere’s, then after that we had corn planters that went behind the horses, then we got so that corn planters were built for [behind] tractors.

CM:
What was the word? Corn--

DU:
Corn planters. So we went to that and same way with the mowing machines, it was the same thing. Horses, it got better, the technology did, so then you hooked it on the tractor and went from there mowing. Putting hay in was the same thing, you had what you call a hay loader, you load the hay up and then you pick it up and put it on a wagon, put it in loose. Well then the baler comes along and oh boy, that was a lot better. And I can remember that as a kid growing up. So that’s how the technology got better in that part.

CM:
And things went a lot faster then?

DU:
Oh yeah, a lot faster. We could get haying done sometimes in a couple of weeks. We’d have haying all done. Then we got the haying done between haying and the next haying we’d go away for a week.

CM:
What would you do?

DU:
Well we’d go on vacation. And we travelled different places for a week and then in the fall of the year usually took a few days off and that’s why it was good to be working with a brother, then he would take time off too. That’s how things moved along. Things just kept getting better and better, faster and faster.

CM:
So we’re kind of getting closer to the end of the interview, is there anything you wanted to talk about specifically that we haven’t covered yet?

DU:
Not that I can think of.

CM:
Anything I should know about farming?

DU:
Well I guess I told you just about everything you know, about farming that I could think of. I can’t think of anything more that I could tell you.

CM:
Was your community mostly farmers?

DU:
Yes, this was a big farm community then, there was a lot of farming. Sometimes you worked together with them and did a lot of that. Exchange work and that was fun. Hard work but fun.

CM:
Who was your biggest competition, I know you said farms are always trying to one-up each other, who was your biggest rival--

DU:
No, back there wasn’t so much, they wanted to have a few more horses than each other, or so I’ve been told but no. It was more just working together and stuff like that. There wasn’t too much competition but as farming got better, and then you didn’t work with anybody anymore, then that’s when the competition really pushed along. A lot of your old farmers, like Dean and I we still stayed the same. It was fun to go eat at the places and it was good, they always told me one guy had a better team than the other but outside that there wasn’t too much competition there, just wanted to get the work done.

CM:
Were most of them dairy farms too?

DU:
Yes, in this area it was just about all dairy farmers. They worked hard and they played hard. Had dances to go to, Granges and that had dances, and famers and all that so. It was a very, very good life, I would recommend it to anyone, but not anymore. It was a very good life. I wouldn’t trade it for a million bucks. If I could do it all over again I would do it. That’s how much I liked it. And my brother did too. He went to Syracuse University I think two years, he didn’t like it so he come back on the farm, he was never going to be a farmer, I’d like to hear what his interview was.

CM:
I think it will be up on the website [laughter]

DU:
Yeah so he went back on the farm too. It’s really hard to explain stuff because it’s just in your blood, it’s the same as, I don’t know what you want to do, but when you get into it, if you really love it you’ll do it. And that’s the way farming is, with any farmers, not just me, if it’s in the blood, it’s like a baseball player it’s in their blood, you have do it, and you put everything you have into it, everything else kind of just stands back, but you can’t help it, it’s just there. I liked it very much. So that’s about all I can tell you.

CM:
Well thank you so much for your time and your stories, I really appreciate it.

DU:
I’ll probably think of a dozen things after you leave.

CM:
Probably. [laughter]

[END TRACK 2, 22:36]

Duration

30:00 - Part 1
22:38 - Part 2

Bit Rate/Frequency

192kbps

Time Summary

11:17 - Activities Outside of the Farm
12:55 - Typical Day on the Farm

Files

Citation

Cassidy Mickelson, “Derwin Utter, December 15, 2015,” CGP Community Stories, accessed November 17, 2018, http://cgpcommunitystories.org/items/show/221.