A Cow’s View of the White Mountains

I came across a postcard of the White Mountains, that showed a herd of cows who were

Postcard: View of Mt. Adams and Madison from Pinkham Notch, White Mountains NH.  Cows enjoying the view from the Glen House.

Postcard: View of Mt. Adams and Madison from Pinkham Notch, White Mountains NH. Cows enjoying the view from the Glen House.

obviously enjoying the lovely view.  How can I tell, you ask? Well if you zoom in really close, you will see that those cows are smiling.  But of course the photograph was taken in the summer time.  If the photo had been taken in winter, those cows would be grimacing and shivering instead.   In that case, it would not make such a lovely postcard.

Now for a bit of history about this view. . .

FROM New Hampshire Patriot and Star Gazette (Concord NH) – Thursday, July 14, 1881, Page 4: GLEN HOUSE FARM — Owned by C.R. Milliken (EXCERPTS)
Eight miles up from Gorham (and up means up here), tucked in among the mountains on either side of the little “go as you please” Peabody river, in all the place that was left when these mountains were made, lies the Glen House farm….

Mr. Milliken has business in Portland Maine but runs this house and farm in connection with it. The farm is used for the production of hay for the horses used in carrying between Gorham and the top of the mountains, in working the farm, and for raising vegetables, milk and better for the patrons of the Alpine and Glen houses. Mr. Milliken has occupied this farm ten years.

When he first commenced here, he hired cows of the farmers at the rate of ten dollars a month each, for cows, for about two and a half months. This was tried for the first four years, but was found to be too expensive; consequently an effort was made to get such cows as were sufficiently hardy for the mountain winters and such as would produce good cream and butter. The Jerseys, having a good reputation for cream and butter, have been purchased but are not considered quite hardy enough for the winter climate here which is quite severe.

CROSS BRED COWS. In order to make an improvement in the ability to withstand the cold, the introduction of Swiss blood is being resorted to at the present time by Mr. Milliken, and the experiment has been carried far enough so that he is sanguine of its success, as the Swiss cattle come from a mountainous country where ice and snow abound. We see no reason why it may not meet the want, so far as constitution is concerned at any rate, and it is claimed that the milk almost equals that of the Jerseys. They are decidedly heavier in both meat and bone than either the Jersey or the common native cattle, but there is a kind of heavy appearance about the head and offal parts that does not strike the Jersey fanciers favorable. But “handsome is that handsome does,” so we ought to be willing to wait until the experiment is fully tried before we make objections to trifling points, still, we have been so much in the habit of expected a fine neck and horn in a good dairy cow, that this prejudice must be overcome before accepting the breed as filling the eye; but if it can be shown that it will fill the pail, butter tub and beef barrel, we should be contented.

AN HONEST PRIDE. We can well excuse Mr. Milliken for praising his full Swiss bull, Earnest Tell No. 65. He calls it the best bull of any breed he has ever seen. This bull is a beauty. He has an escutcheon at least 14 inches wide across his thighs, coming half way to the tail quite distinctly, with a trace all the way to the setting of the tail. Besides the thorough bred bull, there are two pure Swiss cows, four years old; one Lochen, No. 73, the other, Daisy No. 79; both sired by Albert Tell. The dam of Lochen and the great dam of Daisy was Genera, an imported cow. There are six full-bred cows of this breed.

Mr. M. also has crosses between the Swiss and Jerseys on the farm and Mr. Milliken and the help who stay at the farm during the year pronounce the cross-bred cows the best on the place. There are at least two considerable herds of cattle in the New England states that we have knowledge of where Jersey and Swiss cows are both kept; besides the one under consideration; and there may be others. Here is an interesting field of experiment and discovery.

NEW BREEDS NEEDED. We took the liberty to suggest an idea regarding the opportunity for experiment on the “Pine-grove farm.” We state the belief entertained with regard to Jersey and Swiss cross-bred cattle at the “Glen House,” we have talked with Dr. Sturtevant about Jersey and Ayrshire crosses, and others, and while results have not always been satisfactory, we still believe there is room for improved breeds of cattle and sheep, that may better combine the qualities desired in farm animals than any of the imported cattle, and also, having the advantage of being reared in our own climate, and under such circumstances as are to govern them during their lives. Here is a chance for a life work. Who will enter into it? The whole number of horned cattle kept on this place is nearly fifty. There are forty-five cows. Among them are 8 Ayrshires, six pure Swiss, and 25 Jerseys, some of the leading ones being Jersey Mountain Maid, No. 8464 bred on the Jersey Island; Glen Belle 8465 also imported; Registered cows: Lady Butterfly 9302; Lady North No. 9303; Lady Fawn No. 9307; and a two-year-old Jersey bull out of Mountain Maid, No. 8464.

OTHER STOCK KEPT. One hundred and forty horses are kept to do the business of the house and farm. They are employed more or less in lumbering during the winter.

These horses are mostly good and some of them valuable. One, a Knox stallion, and a two year old bay colt by Startle, and also one of a mare formerly owned by Robert Bonner. Many of the horses are grey. We rode from the Alpine house at Gorham to the Glen house, behind six greys. One hundred Berkshire hogs and pigs are kept at work on the horse manure.

The manure from the trenches behind the cows is wheeled out on a high plank and dumped on a pile to heat. We judge that Mr. Milliken has been reading “Harris on Manures,” by the looks of the pile. Two large ENglish mastiffs are kept to guard the house. Last winter one of them weighed 138 lbs.

Mr. Milliken owns 600 acres of land here, but all that is plowed, we suppose, is that bordering on the river. We did not learn the number of acres of arable land, but the hay crop is estimated at 100 tons. Besides this, hay is bought to considerable extent; and this and the large amount of grain fed to the horses must soon make the farm better. Inquiring something about the amount of food used, we were informed by Mr. M. that the day before our visit he ordered eight car loads of grain. The manure from this hay and grain is mainly used in producing more hay. Last fall some 25 acres were plowed and seeded to grass.

The main cattle barn is about 38×60 with a double row of stalls the entire length, with deep trenches for the manure. The main stable for the horses is about 40×100; also another about 40×80, besides the coach house. Mr. Milliken kindly showed us over the house of which we need say little, as it is so well and favorably known already; but we may say that it is being repaired, two-hundred and thirty thousand shingles had been laid just before our visit and repairs were still going on.

We might say something further regarding the splendid view from this house, as Mt. Jefferson and Adams are directly in the foreground and the top of Mt. Washington eight miles distant and in full view; but this does not belong strictly to this page of the paper and we forbear, excepting perhaps to notice a fine setting of rock maples to the number of several hundred by the roadside as we approach the house.
— Webster, July 8, 1881. WILL TELL.

Note: the C.R. Milliken mentioned above was the author of The Glen House Book.   A few years after this article, the Glen House burnt to the ground, and was sold.

Editor’s Note: Being that this blog is called Cow Hampshire, I feel compelled to post something about cows from time to time.  Hoping you enjoy these stories as much as I do!

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