The Crooked Lake Review

Summer 2003

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Dairy Farming

in Cortland County, 1859

found by

Richard Palmer

From the Cortland Republican Banner

September 8, 1859

During a visit to Cuyler we called upon Mr. Alonzo Keeney, one of the largest farmers in the County, and from what we saw of his premises, we believe him to be one of the best if not the best farmer in Cortland County. He turns his attention chiefly to making cheese, as most of the dairymen in that section of the county do. His farm is one of the most productive, bearing from two to four tons of hay per acre, and this year, when others are complaining of such light crops of hay, he says his has never been better, which he attributes to his method of management.

He has probably the best barn in the County, being 100 feet long, 30 feet wide, and with posts 26 feet high. Under the whole is a cellar eight feet deep, with reservoirs on each side to retain all the manure, and into which all the manure made is dropped, where it is preserved in the best possible state for application to the land.

Above the cellar is his stables, extending the whole length on both sides of the barn, with an alley between them from which to feed.

The cows are never fed out of doors, but always in the stables, which are arranged with stanchions and troughs into which the whey from the cheese house is conducted for the cows. They are also fed at this time of year, with cornstalks raised for the purpose.

The stable is eight feet high, giving plenty of room and air by the help of ventilators in the sides of the barn. Above the stables is the mow for hay, of which a sufficient quantity can be stored for 60 cows, the number kept on this farm. The hay for feeding the stock is thrown down through a trap door in the floor into the alley below, thus making it the most convenient, and we think the best barn we ever saw.

Mr. Keeney's system of farming shows itself plainly on his meadows which produce nearly twice as much hay as his neighbors, and receives a dressing of the manure from the cellar each year after the crop has been taken off. A portion of his farm is now covered with stumps &c., for the removal of which he has made a contract, paying about $1,000 to fit it for the use of the mowing machine. This is a sure evidence that Mr. Keeney is a live farmer, and also that what is worth doing, is worth doing well.

It is well worth the time required to visit this farm, and there are but few farmers in the County who might not be made wiser for a visit.

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