July 17, 2009
Farmer honored for 80 years in grange
Clarence Maybury can remember milking his 20-cow herd by hand, instead of by machine, and plowing the fields with horses, not tractors.
Ask him how long he’s been a farmer, he’ll tell you: “From the time I can remember, until between 85 and 90.”
The 95-year-old was honored for his 80 year membership in the East Homer grange on Sunday.
A special reception was held for Maybury by Allbright Grange members and family at his home at Walden Place on Bennie Road, Cortlandville. Maybury also served 35 years as treasurer for the grange.
“I think it’s unbelievable,” said Richard Brooks, master of the Allbright Grange in East Homer. “I say if you are 80 years in an organization, that would be quite a feat.”
“He’s probably the oldest one as of right now,” Brooks said, who is a
64-year member himself. “I am like Clarence, when we were 14, we joined. I am 78 ... I am gaining on him. I don’t think I will catch him.”
Maybury said he joined the McGraw Grange at 15 and after declining membership, that grange merged with the Allbright Grange in East Homer, and he was a member there. His farm, which his dad owned before him, was located on Wildman Road in Solon, and he had 20 to 24 cows on 248 acres. He stayed on the farm until 2004.
“It was very nice of them,” Maybury said of his grange honor.
“I think not that many people live long enough to get that award,” said Mahlon Burroughs, Maybury’s nephew and a dairy farmer on Cold Brook Road in Homer. “I think it’s fantastic. He received the 75th award back in 2004. He didn’t expect to live to get the 80th award.”
Burroughs planned the reception with his wife and there were five grange members and eight family members there. The party doubled as Maybury’s 95th birthday party, which was officially Tuesday.
Burroughs said Maybury’s farm was honored as a Century Farm in 1966, meaning it had been a family farm for 100 years at that point.
“He moved off in 2004. The Maybury Farm was a family farm from 1866 to 2004,” Burroughs said.
Maybury said in the beginning when he joined the grange, it was the main place for gathering in McGraw.
“The McGraw Grange seldom had less than 40 people at the meeting ... We would discuss agriculture, mostly. Sometimes they would come up with new (ideas). I think this idea of hunters wearing orange clothing, I think the grange backed that up and got that passed,” he said.
“Back in the good old days, there wasn’t many places to go,” Brooks said. “The grange had square dancing, card parties. That’s what everyone did. Now you marry someone from California and stay home and watch movies, watch TV. At one time, there was a grange in every town in Cortland (County). At the present time, there are only four left.”
The Allbright Grange, located on Route 13 in East Homer, caters to that area, and is a fraternal organization. Open to anyone, Brooks said, it supports the community, as well as farmers.
There are about 40 members in the Allbright Grange and members meet the first Tuesday of the month, Brooks said.
“We actually, as of right now, we’re kind of a community project ... We try to help in any of the local things that are going on. For instance, they had Antique Plough Day in East Homer. We put on the breakfast for that. Any wedding, funeral, after funeral gathering, we try to serve a meal after the event. Our grange hall is used for Sunday school Sunday mornings,” he said. “We have a legislative committee to bring things before the Senate and Assembly in Albany.”
Gas development issues, open burning laws, and other land environment issues are considered by the legislative committee, Brooks said.
“Years ago, most people joined the grange because they got their fire insurance and other insurances through the grange. Now you can buy that without being a member. That depleted a lot of members.”
Plus young people have so much to do, with sports clubs and teams, he said.
“Young people don’t come much,” Maybury said. “When booze got legal, a lot of them would rather go there, because the grange wouldn’t allow booze.”
Burroughs, who has been a farmer his whole life, was born and raised on his dairy farm on Cold Brook Road. He got his first milk check in November of 1957. He has 150 cows, both Holsteins and Jerseys.
“It’s tough right now. A lot of us are going out of business,” he said.
Many farmers aren’t making enough to pay their bills, he said. “I am still going to hang in there.”
In order to survive, farmers can’t have a lot of debt, he said. And they need to put in the hard work.
His uncle, also, was determined to make it work, Burroughs said.
The Maybury farm was on a hillside, so that made it difficult. But Maybury supplemented his income with bus driving for 39 years. He also did “custom thrashing,” Burroughs said, thrashing oats and grain before they were combined, for farmers in McGraw, Solon and Cortland. So Maybury would milk cows, thrash grain and drive school bus.
“I don’t think you see those thrashers around anymore, except in a museum,” Burroughs said.
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