Go To The Joe's Pond Association Website

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I just learned that almost all the land at the northwestern end of Joe's Pond is now in conservation.  David Mayhew, of Brookline, MA, has turned his 94 acres at the head of Joe's Pond over to the Vermont Land Trust and Passumpsic Valley Land Trust.  Here is a link to the article describing this protected area:  New Land Acquisition in Cabot.

This is of special interest to me as most of this piece of property  was once part of my family's farm.  Some of the original land owned by Aaron Bolton, my grandfather, was sold off I think in the 1960s; that would be that which is on the opposite side of the road from our house on West Shore Road.  John and Liz Randall own one lot, and Ken Colman owns another large piece.  The  Mayhew land is beyond Coleman's and far as Mrs. Wagner's, where we see the cattle pastured most summers.  There is a nice brook that runs through the property and empties into the pond within the white cedar swamp mentioned in the article.  

When I was growing up, the land from Wagner's to the fence line between Randalls and Morgans was pasture, and our young cattle were kept there during the summer months.  It was always fun to take them down the old road, now thrown up, part of which is now a driveway to where Henretta Splain once lived.  They were always frisky, running and jumping like youngsters do, happy to be free after a long winter in the barn.  It took four or five of us to keep them from galloping into the woods or fields, and there always seemed to be one or two runaways we'd have to chase after - that was a good job for us kids.

After they were safely in the pasture with the bars up, my grandfather or one of my uncles would come by with the farm truck and give us a ride back up the hill.  I remember my grandfather went every Sunday, and sometimes in between, to check on them.  All he had to do was call out once, "Come, boss!" and they would come running out of the woods.  Sometimes all it took was for him to show up and as soon as one spotted him, she would call out a long greeting and then the others would come.  He took good care of his animals, and they loved him.  We had all registered  Holsteins, and they were big, beautiful animals.  They gave a lot of milk, but the butterfat content wasn't high, as I recall.

A few times I've had to go into the "white cedar swamp" to get strays that had gone through the fence and got on the railroad track.  Even then it was dense and incredibly hard to get through - deep swampy marshland.  We'd come out of there covered with mud and usually well scratched and bloodied from tangles with bushes and bites from insects, including sometimes hornets.  I remember feeling the grit of the mud in my sneakers and how good it felt to wash my feet and legs in the brook as soon as we got on high ground.

It's a good thing that the land will be preserved.  It is an important wetland/marsh area, and actually the last, except for some Passumpsic Valley Land Trust already owns on the north shore, that hasn't been filled in for building.  Years ago we didn't think swampy land such as that could be used for anything except pasture and wood lots, but that notion was dispelled when the wetlands began to be filled in along what is now Sandy Beach Road and Channel Drive, and cottages built.  So, Mr. Mayhew, in my book,  "you done good!"
    
 

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