Roger and Dorothy Acheson
The Achesons were interviewed in 1976 by Mary Giles for the Bicentennial Celebration. They had spent their time working on the family dairy farm for many years.
We came from New Bedford and raised vegetables for a long time. During the depression I worked for the government.
You like my paintings? I started (painting) when we stopped keeping cows—is it four years? – Or a little while after. We both went to evening classes at the high school. Mrs. Leuvelink was teaching. She showed us how to use oil paints. Yes, she’s a wonderful teacher.
Interviewer—“Where did you sell your milk when you were in the dairy business?”
Uh, we sold it first to Hood’s. We had a cooler—tank with water in it and they furnished us with 40-gallon cans and they came out every day and—it was around 1944-45, 30 years ago. After we got a larger herd, it was more profitable than raising vegetables. With farming we could sell about so much to the stores and if we sold wholesale, we should have had a lot more in order to get the volume business.
We never had any trouble selling all our milk because we had high quality milk (Guernsey cattle). That’s why we got a premium. We sold it as Grade A milk—got a cent a quart premium on it because it was high quality butter fat and low bacteria, but then they began to do away with Grade A milk and later they said we had to put in a bulk tank and you just put the milk in it and that cools it. You don’t put any water in it—the water is in an outside compartment and it runs by electricity, so we put the milk in it and then they came with a tank truck and pumped it out into the tank. It was much simpler—some men who used to work on the truck sprained their back for life—and so the truck driver liked it much better.
Raising cattle for milk—its long hours and you’ve got to watch all the time to see that they don’t get diseases. Oh, we had them get loose once in a while, but we got electric fences and we got them trained to that. So long as the fence didn’t get grounded, it was all right, but you have some branches fall on it and it grounds it and there’s no current in it then.
We raised most of our own feed for the cattle. Jim, my son, had the farm across the road. He bought that in 1948. The two of us could do better than one man alone but we had to be very careful and look out for mastitis and a lot of other things. We had the veterinarian out at least once a week to check the cows and everything. You can’t have mastitis and get good milk.
On staying at home—“I wouldn’t want to go traveling alone,” says Dorothy. Roger says, “When you are over 80 years old, you should stay at home—I’m 77 and she’s 82.”
I think we’re becoming too large for the kind of town government we have. Where we have 12,000-14,000 people in town and they have a job getting 200 people to Town Meeting to run the business, and those that have an axe to grind—they’ll come and get what they want. If we had a limited Town Meeting, not as big as Dartmouth has, say, one or two members for each section, they’d go and feel responsibility and we’d have equal representation. Not a group from one place came to get their roads or something like that. I think it would be better if we could change it.
Dorothy: “I think it will come about sometime.”
Roger: “Some of the people who are against it are some of the people who don’t even go.”
When we first come down here, they were paving Horseneck Road and they’d gotten down to the corner at the bend in the road. Pine Hill Road and Horseneck were just the same. It was paved beyond us, just down to the corner of the Old Horseneck Road. There was no electricity and we had a dug well; we have a driven well now because we needed more water for the cows.
There’s something I should have told you. When we started testing our cows, they produced an average of 6,000 pounds of milk and when we sold out, they were producing an average of over 14,000 pounds of milk. This was due to the artificial insemination. That was the average of the herd and we kept the butterfat up—the butterfat was still up about 5 per cent.
We sold the herd at an auction. We sold all except some of the heifers that were not milking yet and we kept them and sold them to individual farmers.