Articles, Blog

The Heifers Fell 12 or 15 Feet (Vermont Farm Story)

September 7, 2019

good morning guys it is a beautiful
morning it is much much colder than it was yesterday
yesterday was like I think he got up to be about 42 degrees or so and this
morning I don’t know let’s see what how cold it actually is and so this morning
it is about 20 degrees not too bad a little less than 20 I find that it’s a
little bit warmer always here in the barn all right so I was so afraid that
this was gonna be a skating rink but it looks like it all drained you can see
all my muddy boot prints from yesterday yesterday this whole area was a swamp I
was like splashing in water it was kind of a mess but luckily most of it seems
to have drained so I had a little story I wanted to tell you guys today it’s
about the farmer who lives across the street from me he’s a nice old guy by
the name of Fran he has a farm of his own he’s been in his farm which is a
great across the street from us for I don’t know since I think he said 1952
was when he moved there he’s grown up in our town his entire life but he lived in
another part of town he lived in East Peacham and we’re in South Peacham so
for people from East Peacham South Kitchen is like a world away even though
you know as the crow flies it’s probably about two and a half miles he has lived
in that house since 1952 he and his wife Gracia
there are the nicest people in the world they’ve been so welcoming to Allison and
me ever since we came here Fran has some of the most incredible
stories and this one story he told me a little while back I actually want to
relay to you guys today but stick with me here because I gotta get the Ducks
ready first so I’ve moved on from cat food to
mealworms as a source for extra protein for the Ducks I got these bags on sale
tractor supply like each five-pound bag was like 20 bucks pretty ridiculous
so Fram like I was saying he grew up here in Peacham and growing up he lived
on a dairy farm so the people who farm in our area are almost exclusively dairy
farmers especially the old-timers and and most of the barns designed around
here are actually like the one that I’m in right now so here in our barn the
first floor here was actually the stables for the horses and this is where
the manure from the cattle would go so you can actually see piles and piles of
ancient petrified cow poop right here look at that right that’s some real BS
so the way they are structured the third floor has the hay storage second floor
is where they kept the cows and where they’d milk the cows and then the first
floor was usually used for dumping the manure that way they were having gravity
on their side they load the hay up in the summer they would drop it down to
the cows on the second floor the cows would eat it the cows would poop and
then they would drop the manure down this manure chute right down here and
they’d store it and toss it off there now the way that a lot of these barns
were built they were usually built on piled stone foundations you’ll notice
down here in our barn we have a poured foundation here and then there’s columns
that pour off over here that’s because people have done renovations on our barn
over the years to preserve them and as you hear this story you’re going to know
why that’s really important but still some of our barn and you can see an
example of it right here has actually just piled stone as well in fact like
you can see a lot of it right down here so piled stone piled stone more piled
stone you know the idea being let’s get the wood off the ground and keep it on
some rock you can see more here’s a good patch of it you can see a lot of it
right here and then actually the grandfather of all piled stone is right
here I mean look at this giant rock they used it as a foundation rather than try
to move it which makes a lot of sense a little while back I was talking to my
neighbor Fran and he was telling me why he thought these types of barns and this
type of barn construction was so dangerous and he said it was because it
was something that happened to him when he was a kid
oh shoot make sure the water doesn’t flow I’m so terrified of flooding this
down here and turning it into a skating rink release the quacken! so for your frame of
reference Fran and his wife Grecia actually live their farm is right over
there not sure if you can quite see it there’s
like a white house and then a barn when we cut to some b-roll of it there you go
beautiful place right like I said they’ve been there since the 50s
Fran actually even used to rent our land here so like in this like 60s and 70s
when the Shaw family was kind of in their waning years Fran leased the land
and he would use our barn and he would hay our fields and graces cattle on our
fields and grow corn on the top of the field and so he knows our land really
well and ever since I moved here I found Fran to be just this awesome resource of
information and knowledge because you know look I’m a beginning farmer could
argue I’m not even a farmer yet and Fran he has been doing this since he was a
kid so for somebody like me who’s new to the area and new to this line of work
a guy like Fran is an invaluable resource and even if he was a corn
focused dairy farmer of a conventional nature for what with a 60s 70s 80s
looked like you know he he has a ton of experience and knowledge some great
stories and so I always enjoy going over there talking to Fran getting advice
hearing his old stories you know actually the first time I ever met Fran
I was going through our barn and I discovered these old cattle birthing
records and I looked on the name on the the record chart and it said FP and I
knew that the family across the street were named them so I actually stopped
over there one day and offered him up to him and he was blown away that I
actually even had the things but this video isn’t really about how great a guy
Fran is because I could probably spend 45 minutes just talking about that this
video is about the time that Fran had a catastrophe happen at his farm when he
was a kid and why he believes our barn should get torn down so like I said Fran
grew up a couple miles from here over in East Peacham and his father had a dairy
farm and his father had a barn that was not that different than ours and Fran
often had to do chores they weren’t a huge farm they probably had about 16
heifers or so you know Fran would be responsible as a kid for bringing the
heifers in bringing him up to the second floor so that they could get milked and
then you know making sure that they were taken care of and so one day Fran was
taking the heifers in and bringing him in to get milked and he noticed down
below on the lower portion of their barn there’s gonna require a field trip to
explain this properly for those of you who are not familiar with the
construction of New England barns so you see how I’ve got the the duct house or
mobile tricking tractor or whatever you want to call it sitting on that ramp
that ramp is known as a high drive high drives were really important for the
construction of this type of barn so the way they would do it is they’d bring the
hay down from the pasture in the hay cart roll it up here and actually drive
the cart all the way into the barn and that would be how they’d unload without
having it be overly back-breaking labor labor most barns that have our model
where they have the hay on the third floor or the cows on the second floor
and everything else on the first floor usually have a second high drive to that
would bring you up to the second floor you can actually see on our barn where
our old high drive was they took it out years ago but there was a ramp that
would go right here and that’s how they’d walked the cattle up Fran had
something similar in his barn so anyway one morning as Fran was walking the
heifers up to the barn to get milked he noticed something picture where our
concrete column is just being a pile of stone not unlike you see down over there
it would had toppled over and the post was just actually hanging in the air to
hear Franny tell it it’s like he’s saying oh it was sort of swaying this
way in that way and that to me is a terrifying thought so here he is 11
years old he’s got about a dozen heifers up on the second floor of a barn and he
notices that down below the supporting beam that should be supporting right
where they’re standing wasn’t supporting anything it wasn’t supporting anything
because the stone had kept it up had toppled over so Fran left the barn ran
to go get his father and he and his father started running back to the barn
to go you know they ran down to their house their house was connected to the
barn to so it’s not that different than the setup you see here and they ran back
then and they get there just in time to see the floor collapse in all of the
cows fall about I don’t know 12 to 15 feet and they fall in a wreckage into a
pile they all just sort of slid down Fran said like you could see him just
kind of belly flopping down into the bottom of the barn and they collapsed
now again this is a poor Vermont family who sustains themselves on their farm
aside from their land these heifers were all the wealth that they had in the
world and was how they supported themselves so you want some serious
steaks that was there and what happened was oh hey actually look I got a visitor
it’s my old friend Fran he’s just pulling up say it so I got a yeah now right yeah
living out in the talk about your timing so just as I’m telling a story about
Fran Fran shows up he declined to comment on camera he said oh you tell it
you do better so all right where was I my story I completely lost my train of
thought now and so they got in there they cleared out some of the wreckage
made a path and the heifer started to walk out of the barn and they seemed
fine there was one heifer that wouldn’t get
up and they were kind of worried about her she apparently looked like she had
been at the bottom of the pig pile or cow pile I guess you get you know what I
mean and so Fran said even the next morning
that cow got up and was up and walking around and they were all fine so despite
the fact that they tumbled I don’t know 15 12 feet something like that and the
barn portion major portion of the barn collapse the cows were fine but that
experience for Fran has bred a hatred for the three-story barn for for as long
as he’s ever lived like even his own barn isn’t structured like that his own
barn is a gambrel barn it’s a whole different design so when it came time
for me to ask Fran about what we should do with our barn
his point of view was I you should tear the dang thing down so I guess I tell
you guys this long rambling story about my neighbor Fran and cows falling in a
barn because I guess two reasons really the first one is I just love memories of
old farms and and and you know hearing how they live
hearing how people in our area used to do things back in the day hearing the
experiences hearing the little adventures that to me it’s just I don’t
know it just makes me feel great it makes me feel like I’m a part of
something as I’m trying to get stuff started up here so I wanted to actually
just sort of capture Fran’s story and he declined to be interviewed but he said I
could tell it for and you know I think in some way I think that’s almost why I
like doing the YouTube channel itself you know because for me in my farm
these videos are a way to capture the story is captured
adventures capture the progress that we’re making and I can’t wait to look
back on this stuff 2 3 4 25 years from now the second reason I tell you guys
this story is because there’s so much wisdom and what Franz got to share you
know he was a farmer in this area for most of his adult life and he he has
done so much it has so much experience when it comes to working the land here
understanding animals around here understanding predators understanding
the seasons all that stuff he’s got so much experience and even if his model of
Agriculture is drastically drastically different than what I’m trying to
establish here there’s so many lessons to be learned there and so if you’re out
there trying to start a farm or a homestead or thinking about it I
encourage you to talk to the elders man find out what wisdom they’ve got find
out how they used to do things you know you might not have to do it exactly the
way they did it but don’t be afraid to take some of that lesson learn from them
and use it for yourself and make it a part of what you ultimately end up doing
be sure to watch one of our other videos if you want to learn about what’s
happening here at Gold Shaw Farm and don’t forget to subscribe I will see you
guys in the next video thanks


  • Reply The Citystead December 27, 2018 at 11:37 am

    That's a great story! Yeah that would be a great neighbor to have. Our first 2 years in this house we lived next to the old mayor of our city and he would tell me stories about the town that were always interesting.

  • Reply Tactical Priority at Cart Path Farm December 27, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    Fran is a treasure! I don't think your barn looks too bad. The ridge looks pretty straight. I bet you could get someone in there with a machine to clean out the lower level and shore it up with some new sono tubes on footings. Great video!

  • Reply Leslie from Morning Mist Gardens December 27, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    What a great story and how lucky you are to have met Fran! Couldn’t you just sit all day and listen too him?!

  • Reply Haywire Homestead December 27, 2018 at 12:30 pm

    I have flooded my yard because I forgot to turn off the spigot. Great story thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Northern Ohio Homestead December 27, 2018 at 12:42 pm

    wonderful story. though old folks have a lot of information to learn from. thanks for sharing and have a wonderful day

  • Reply Little White Dory December 27, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    Good morning Morgan, great story and even better that Fran makes a cameo appearance! As much as I guess I would be tempted to want to keep that old time look to a barn, I think I'd probably listen to Fran and tear it down in favor of its modern replacement. Technology and trial & error have long ago surpassed the design utility of the old barn. A new modern barn would/should be way more practical and theoretically make farming more efficient. Good luck with your barn whichever way you go but my vote would be to take the advice that you've already accepted as valuable and listen to Fran! Have a great day…..

  • Reply Nancy Fahey December 27, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    Ya, sounds like it should come down. Looks like it too. But save the wood that you can. You can use it or even sell it. Traveling the highways I've often thought what I can do with the old wood of some of the dilapidated barns. Cool story thank you Fran.

  • Reply Two Wild Onions Homestead December 27, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    What a great resource and how great of you to cherish him.

  • Reply Oh My Gourd December 27, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    Great story! That's really good advice, and one day you'll be the elder passing along the knowledge, and it's like living on through something enduring

  • Reply Joan Smith December 27, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    Good story. You told it well. But, does this mean your leaning toward tearing down the barn! Hope not.

  • Reply Cynthia Hamblin-Perry December 27, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I too love the old stories and chatting w/ the old timers – like you say a wealth of knowledge and interesting facts! You are so lucky to have such great neighbors.

  • Reply vinnyc365 December 27, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    @ 11:32; Mmm, serious steaks.

  • Reply Hey It's a Good Life December 27, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Oh my word. What a story!!! And a cameo from Fran. How sweet that he likes drop by.

  • Reply Lili Pintea-Reed December 27, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    if you decide to take the barn down there are several companies in New England that buy up old barns for the wood.

  • Reply Start From Seed Homestead December 27, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    I feel for Fran and how it bred hatred for that structure, but it's not the structure that's at fault, it's just the available material for construction from the early to mid-1900s that's at fault. Nowadays with cheap poured concrete and metal adjustable support posts there's no reason to ever have a hanging post like Fran experienced. No one would ever build a structure with a field/stacked stone foundation nowadays. Looks like a bunch of your posts are already reinforced with concrete, but throw in a few adjustable supports between any posts that are still held up with stacked stone (even better if you pour a concrete footer for under the support, but you don't strictly speaking need it because the metal support isn't going to wick water like wood would) and this shouldn't ever happen to you (unless you have floors which are just entirely rotted out.) The structure itself is still a smart design, allowing you to work with gravity to minimize the labour and machinery needed to operate, it just needs to not fall down!

    Also, once you've got the junk cleared away from the outside of the barn, a fresh coat of paint (possibly a good power washing first) will really make the barn pop and feel alive again without breaking the bank. Might seem trivial, but it will make the barn feel a lot more like something worth saving if it's starting to look pretty again rather than so ramshackle. If the wood siding is a decent wood and has a nice grain, just a power washing might reveal some beauty which you could just stain or seal over, rather than painting, but just a fresh coat of red paint is probably the cheapest option.

  • Reply Rocking C Homestead December 27, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    Great Story. Keep up telling those stories and looking for the wisdom of those old timers.

  • Reply Dgrinch Scrooge December 27, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    Can you do anything with your old manure?.. put in your garden or compost pile?.. just wondering if it's good for anything.. enjoy you relaying the story to us as you work..

  • Reply Mary Gibilisco December 28, 2018 at 5:56 am

    Yep, sounds like Fran could've died in the barn collapse. Glad he's still kickin. That's wisdom he's sharing.✌

  • Reply Edmondson Off Grid Homestead December 28, 2018 at 6:36 am

    Hello Fran👍🏾 please keep a close eye on Morgan. He’s a good guy but he needs some help 😂 Morgan – Glad u have a wise sage to get your farm started.

  • Reply Outdoor life on Motl’s Farm December 28, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    Great story and love the way it is told, especially the cameo by Fran….just a FYI – hard to milk a heifer since they haven't started to produce milk. Sorry to be that guy!

  • Reply Homesteading with the Heberts December 29, 2018 at 1:53 am

    This is a great video Morgan. You do a great job on the editing of these and telling a story.

  • Reply Daniel Tilahun December 29, 2018 at 4:15 am


  • Reply Genevieve Greene December 29, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    Cool story. Hi Fran. Glad the cows were fine. The old design is practical and they used the materials and techniques available in that time. Regular maintenance would eliminate the problem that led to the collapse I reckon. Just a weekly check and stabilizing what needs stabilizing. No need to tear it down.

  • Reply Eileen Palumbo December 29, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Interesting story. Older folks are a wealth of information and good on you for appreciating them.

  • Reply brslib01 December 30, 2018 at 11:30 pm

    We had the Pennsylvania bank barn with just two stories and the manure was moved on a conveyor belt to the slurry pit.

  • Reply G'Maw's Garden January 4, 2019 at 11:56 pm

    those kind of stories are the icing on the homesteading adventure, the is wisdom in the multitude of counseling. thnx for sharing I am enjoying your videos.

  • Reply Cynthia Fisher January 8, 2019 at 3:16 am

    Save the barn! I think there’s every reason to keep it. Building a barn like that now would be very expensive and I think you could restore it with much less expense. And it’s so cool looking! I love old barns.

  • Reply Wilma Gregory January 8, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    Loved the story and the barn. Can't wait to see more, new sub. Take care, peace.

  • Reply Debbie Moore January 20, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    Love the stories too. My dad was kind of our local Fran when back-to-the-landers of the 1970s moved into the area. Considering those who have always lived total rural tend to be very private people, you, and our new neighbors were very lucky ❤️

  • Reply Tonya Palmer January 26, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    I just watched your video and I loved it!! I am the oldest grandchild of Francis and Gracia and you captured exactly what kind of man my Papa is. This was great and can't wait to watch the rest!!

  • Reply Mama Grows February 1, 2019 at 12:00 am

    You are a good story teller. Love it.

  • Reply zen Stevems February 4, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    I am start my Owen.dairy farm soon. I am going small-scale grass feeds dairy farm

  • Reply TarantuLady April 20, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    This story makes me miss my grandpa, lifelong farmer from Iowa. All that wisdom…😊👍

  • Reply Cornish Game Cronk April 29, 2019 at 11:03 pm

    No milk from heifers, yo

  • Reply Diana Russell April 30, 2019 at 6:46 am

    FYI, you don't milk heifers. A heifer is a female cow that has not yet calved. A cow can't give milk until it has calved, therefore a heifer can't be milked. You milk cows.

  • Reply Diana Russell May 4, 2019 at 2:03 am

    I love that old barn. They don't make 'em like that any more. It was built to last.
    I miss my childhood barn. I liked the way it was built. I spent a lot of time there,especially after my horse was born. It was in bad shape like yours but I liked it's design. A few years after we left the farm I visited the area and was shocked and saddened to see that whoever bought the farm had torn down the house, the barn, the fences, and all the out buildings in favor of hay fields. I didn't recognize our former farm and completely missed it until we got to my former neighbors house. We turned around and I located the creek that had run through our pasture. That's when I got the shock of my young life.

  • Reply Kelikaku Coutin June 21, 2019 at 12:30 am

    Some day, forty years from now,
    someone'll move into Fran's
    farm. They'll be listening to your
    stories then.

    Just you wait and see.


  • Reply Richard Smith June 27, 2019 at 1:33 am

    Morgan new to your channel, your a funny dude man.  I as well am trying to start a small farm in Oklahoma. I love it…

  • Reply Monte Engel June 30, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    You don’t milk heifers. Heifers are unbred females. They do not produce milk until they have a calf. Then they are cows.

  • Reply FOLLOWUS2FREEDOM July 1, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    Great Job being brave enough to share.

  • Reply Master Dan Price July 3, 2019 at 1:17 pm


  • Reply Khalil AlHajal July 13, 2019 at 12:46 am

    Without this channel, a guy in Detroit would never hear this old farmer Fran’s story of the falling Heifers. Thanks for doing this.

  • Reply John Taylor July 14, 2019 at 12:41 am

    Gold Shaw Farm, Love your beannie!!! C-A-P-S, Caps Caps, Caps!!!

  • Reply Zell Ilumblade July 15, 2019 at 6:59 am

    Unscripted like a baws.

  • Reply KMA Associates July 16, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    "Release The Quacken !"
    OMG LOL . . . Thanks, I needed that.
    You are a very, VERY lucky man.
    You would do well to gently persuade your neighbors to allow you to record them telling their stories and offering their advice !

  • Reply Jaffar Hatami July 19, 2019 at 10:00 am

    serious steaks, i see what you did there

  • Reply Jamie Ward July 21, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    Animals on 2nd floor?Ouch!

  • Reply Jamie Ward July 21, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    Experience best teacher.

  • Reply Marie Harrelson July 25, 2019 at 7:43 am

    My daddy 92 and mama94 both grew up some portion of their lives on a farm. I love hearing about those times. My grandfather was a sharecropper raising tobacco and cotton till he died in1959. He never owned a tractor. Mules and horses only to plow and pull drags also wagons, in SC. Daddy is blind now and has memory problems. I had to move home to help 2 yrs ago. I tell him stories about what I find on homesteads. Can't wait to till him later this story.

  • Reply Thunder Ridge Homestead August 8, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    Really enjoyed the story! Keep on telling them.

  • Reply Morgan Hull August 20, 2019 at 9:33 pm


  • Reply Morgan Hull August 20, 2019 at 9:38 pm


  • Reply Morgan Hull August 20, 2019 at 9:43 pm


  • Reply David Ethington August 23, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    I always wonder where those 5-10 thumbs down come from. You see it everywhere on YouTube.

  • Reply Geoff Langley August 23, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Right about heifers, do not give milk, only after they have had first calf, yhey then give milk

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