By F.H. Jeter, Extension Editor, State College, Raleigh, published in the Charlotte Observer, Jan. 17, 1948
Davidson and Randolph are mid-Carolina counties that are noted for their feed production. Farmers of both counties grow small grain, hay, clover, pastures, and grazing crops. They convert most of this into milk, although some goes into beef, a part into pork, and much into eggs and other poultry products. There are good markets for all of the products right there at home, what with milk routes stretching over both counties and with some of the larger market centers of North Carolina nearby.
Davidson people say it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find good cows, or at least to get those which they can afford to buy. Only the other day, Jesse Green dispersed his herd of 31 grade Holsteins and notwithstanding the fact that these 31 cows were not purebreds, Mr. Green sold them for better than $300 each. If the cows had been fresh, or even near to freshening time, they would have brought more than $300 average. So, this is causing all Davidson farmers to keep their heifer calves on the farm. They say they can afford to raise these replacements much cheaper than they can afford to buy the mature cows.
One of the great old cows of Davidson County is old “Bess,” a Holstein owned by the Mills Home Orphanage there in Thomasville. This cow is about 14 years old and has dropped 11 calves. In these 11 lactations, she has provided the orphan children of that Home with 134,667 pounds of milk and 4,338 pounds of butterfat.
Norman Shoaf of Lexington, Route 1, and Wilson and Sons of Linwood, Route 1, completed new grade “A” barns early in December and others will be completed this month. H.A. Johnston of Lexington, Route 6, sells grade “A” milk and has bought a fine Ayrshire male calf grown by the North Carolina Experiment Station. The mother of this breeding animal has a record of 10,335 pounds of milk in 3,055 days as a two-year-old, and Mr. Johnson expects to build up his own milking herd composed mainly now of grade cows.
Howard Snyder of Denton community uses his Ladino pasture to fatten cattle for the market. Last March, he bought two beef heifers on the local market for $62 each. In late August, he sold them on the same market for $90. He picks up likely looking grade beef animals as he runs across them, places the animals on his Ladino pasture and the pasture does the rest.
But there is good land in Davidson adapted to red clover. The local growers usually seed this clover with the small grain, save the first crop for hay and then get a seed crop the second year. The stubble is usually turned under for corn or for planting to small grain that same fall.
E.C. Stokes and son, Leon, of Linwood farm together, and they harvested 2,085 pounds of high-grade seed from 11 acres of red clover last August. The hay crop had previously produced a ton per acre. Since red clover seed was selling for 35 cents a pound right at the farm, this 2,085 pounds of seed brought Mr. Stokes and Leon the sum of $729.75 plus $365 for 11 tons of hay. The land was plowed, disked and seeded to small grain last fall and the grain will again be over-seeded with red clover in early spring.
When it comes to grazing crops, G.C. Palmer of Lexington, Route 6, says you ought to see what has happened to his “duck pond.” Mr. Palmer has a piece of land containing about three acres that has never been of much value to him. Most of the year it is covered with water and so the family named it the “Old Duck Pond.” Whenever possible, and usually in the late summer, the cows were turned on it to gather what little grass they could find but they never secured too much feed.
In 1947, Mr. Palmer cut a small ditch through the three acres; then he worked it over thoroughly with a tiller and the disk. He did this several times until he had a good seedbed and, in the fall of 1947, he seeded the field to Ladino clover and orchard grass. He has limed the land thoroughly and used 800 pounds per acre of a 2-12-12 fertilizer at planting time. Last spring he began grazing this area with a work animal, three milk cows, and two heifers. The six animals also had access to about three-fourths of an acre of additional orchard grass but had no other grazing. Mr. Palmer says this old “duck pond” is now one of his best paying fields, all because of a little attention to drainage.
Some years ago, it was my privilege to visit W.L. Smith Sr., who owned a good farm out on Rural Route 6 from Lexington. Mr. Smith had a pond on his farm and would feed Canadian geese, wounded by hunters on the nearby Yadkin River High Rock Lake. For many years, Mr. Smith had quite a colony of the wild geese, and they came to trust him and depend upon him for food. One goose in particular became so attached to his protector that he would follow the Model T Ford to church or to town, flying along just over the car and staying with it until Mr. Smith returned from his errand.
His son, W.L., who owns the farm now, doesn’t keep so many Canadian geese but he is known for his interest in quail. He keeps about 175 quail along with five pheasants and 17 Canadian geese. When he first began to raise quail, he did so with the idea of turning them free on his own farm but so many people began to come to the farm for pairs of the quail or for eggs that he began to sell the quail for $10 a pair and the eggs for 35 cents each. This, he says, brings in some extra cash and defrays the expenses of his hobby. He raised five young Canadian geese last year but did not attempt that this season.
But while this love of wild things is a family trait, Mr. Smith does not forget that his living depends upon his farm. He produces excellent acre yields of small grain, corn and hay. Just recently, he bought three purebred registered Hereford heifers from the breeding herd owned by W.E. Webb of Statesville.