Farm Hand on a Family Farm

New York man describes his experiences as a farm hand on a family farm in Vermont

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Can you imagine a 15 year-old boy from the big city working as a farm hand on a family farm in the great state of Vermont? Well, that was me 51 years ago.

I had some cousins living in Saint Albans and wanted to be near the family one summer. Since my mother, aunt, uncle, brother and cousin went to the Catskills for the summer, I was bored. Well, I took the train from Grand Central to St. Albans, met my other family and after a few days went to the farm bureau to get a job on a farm.

I arrived on the farm in early June and got right on the job. The next morning I was awakened at 4:30 a.m. by the boss, had a cup of coffee and went to the night pasture with the dogs to get the cows into the barn. While one dog went into the pasture, the other dog stayed with me to assure that the cows would head toward the barn and not the other way.

During the month I was there, I was taught to use a milking machine, to strip cows, to put the tack on the pair of enormous horses we had, hook them to the wagon and drive them by myself, to slop the hogs and feed all the other animals we had. I worked from 4:30 a.m. to about 5:00 p.m. when the herd was returned to the night pasture. I became a pro at this work before I left for a job in the carnival business. I can say that I ate well, and even though this was really hard work, I loved every minute of it. It was quite an experience for me.

Joseph H. Cohen
Rego Park, New York


Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.