National Geographic : 1974 Jul
Theron Boyd (preceding pages), a gentle, bewhiskered septuagenarian, has lived all his life in a weathered roadhouse, once a stage coach stop between Quechee and Woodstock. Today he is almost surrounded by 5,500 acres of former farmland that Quechee Lakes Cor poration has subdivided into 2,000 recreation homesites. His place, unencumbered by elec tricity, phone, central heating, inside plumb ing-or debt-is not for sale at any price. Theron leaned on his scythe and expressed his views on the Quechee Lakes venture. "They're puttin' in a fake village daown on what they call the common. Built themselves a bran'-new covered bridge, too. Seems like people 'd rather go where them things come natural 'stead of payin' all get-out for a copy." Theron is unswayed by the fact that the covered bridge duplicates one that stood on the same site until the 1930's, or that the "fake" village includes a restored mill and vintage homes. But other Vermonters, includ ing three governors, praise Quechee Lakes for its faithfulness to the look of the past. Dairyman Earl Hackett of Derby Line ad vocates developments, which his northern Vermont area knows only on a limited scale: "I say let 'em come. They've got to have mon ey to get here, and some of it's bound to rub off on the rest of us." A good share of the wealth of Orleans County has rubbed off on Earl in 60 years of cow keeping; he ranks as New England's largest independent milk producer. At 79, he is also the busiest bantam in the barnyard, working 14-hour days without fatigue. "Growing up, we didn't know anything but hard times. Once in a while, father and I picked up a little profit smuggling hogs into Canada. One year I counted the cat as 'stock' just to make things look better. We had the first flush toilet in Holland, though. Father put the privy over a stream. Folks called him clever then; they'd lynch him today. "Luckiest thing ever happened to me, I got run over by a tractor. Laid me up for four years. Couldn't do much but think. My doctor was a nice fellow but a little careless about collectin' bills and, sometimes, about makin' house calls. I said if he collected half his bills, I'd pay him half the price of a new Cadillac. He couldn't let me die or he'd lose out on the car deal, and money from his patients was slow comin' in. So I got the best of care. That's the kind of thing you can work out in your head if you have the time to use it." Earl takes that time. When land prices and taxes began to rise, he owned 50 farms cover ing thousands of acres. Today he runs two farms and a 30-acre feedlot where modern methods get maximum yields from 1,200 cows. "Get all the hay I need from folks who can't use it," he said. "Pay for some, cut the rest as a favor. Works well all around." Vermont dairymen may have to adopt Hackett ways if (Continued on page 56) Astride his shaving horse, Peter Murray rolls his own on a break from chairmaking. He began his craft simply: "I got what I could from a piece of wood, when I was living in the woods with nothing to sit on." He hand-fashions rockers without nails, screws, or glue. Others at Mad Brook Farm, a community of craftsmen near Island Pond, work leather, weave, throw pots, make quilts, and publish the Green Mountain Trading Post, a kind of "Whole Vermont Catalog." Crafts of the 19th century (left) are on display at the Shelburne Museum. "Naughty Nellie" served as a bootjack. To crimp their ruffles, Victorian ladies heated the bullet-shaped iron and applied the fabric to the tip.