Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Farming’

Five Generations on Robinson Family Farm

Robinson farm 001

The Robinson Family Farm is located in Noble County.

Farming requires hard work and dedication as there’s no time clock to punch. Farmers work until the job is finished. Having lived on a farm all my life, it seems important to me to share stories of our local farmers from time to time.

   One special farm family comes from the Noble County area. For over a hundred years, the Robinson Farm has been in their family. Today Jerry Robinson lives there and keeps the family working together. He recalls many stories of the farm over the years.

Jerry and family 001

Jerry is surrounded by his family. Front row: Mom and Dad; Row 2: Jerry and his late wife, Julia; Row 3: his three sons, Dinty, David, and Jerry II.

   Back in 1909, Perley and Rachel Robinson decided to purchase eighty acres in Noble County for $400. They had been renting a farm and wanted a place of their own. Nothing but brush grew on the land and only enough grass for two cows and two horses.

   Three small coal mines were dug into the banks to provide heating for their home and perhaps they sold a little to help with expenses. These small mines even had tracks and coal cars.

   This great-grandfather built a sturdy home there of oak 2x4s. That home still stands today and provided a place for the second generation, Ralph’s family, to live.

Jerry and brothers 001

Jerry, in the middle, and his brothers gather with their dad on the porch of their farmhouse.

   Ralph and his wife, Bonnie, had six children, four boys and two girls. All four boys, Jerry included, were born at home while the two girls came later in life and were born at Caldwell Hospital. One of the boys was placed in the oven of a wood burner to keep him warm.

Jerry's first dog

Jerry’s friendly dog, Tippy, followed him wherever he went.

   When Jerry was four years old, he had an accident while trying to wire something to his wagon. The wire flew into his eye and he’s been blind in his right eye ever since. But that’s no excuse for not working!

   From the beginning, the Robinsons chose to raise Hereford cattle, and still do today. They rented 1500 acres of pasture from the coal company, and more from neighbors for pasture and hay.

Jerry's Dad 001

Perley Robinson with his favorite Ford tractor.

   Jerry still remembers that when he was five years old they had two horses, Doc and Bell, that pulled their farm equipment before their first tractor, which was purchased in 1949. Like most farmers, tractors are special to Jerry and he even has an extensive Ford and New Holland model tractor collection.

Jerry on first tractor

Jerry still has his first tractor – a 1962 Ford diesel.

   He’s lived on this same farm all his life and helped his dad with farm-work in the evenings after school. This never seemed a chore, as it was just something he liked doing.

   Being on his tractor and tending his beef cattle give him enjoyment. Night calls to the barn to help bring a new calf into the world are nothing new to him. Over the years, he worked for the highway department, but farming has always been in his blood.

Robinson's new calf

Welcoming a new calf at the barn is a family affair with Jerry, his son and grandsons.

   Jerry’s son, Dinty, loves the farm as much as his dad. The grandsons, that fifth generation, are great workers and eager helpers. Most days, someone is working from 6-6, and often later during haying season. They might work until three in the morning if rain is predicted and hay needs to be brought in.

Robinson horse show 002

Grandsons: Lane, Colin and Dolan take great pride in showing their horses.

   His grandsons play an important role on the farm. Dolan, Colin and Lane spend hours each day practicing their sport, which is riding horses. Dolan got his first horse at the age of six and was in a horse show that same day.

   These rare young men would rather be outside riding, hunting, and trapping instead of watching television or playing video games. Whatever they do in the future, these modern cowboys won’t sit behind a desk.

   Lane keeps track of all cattle birth dates, and even names each calf. An unusual happening, on the farm recently, involved a heifer that was having trouble delivering her calf. She was taken to OSU by trailer and they performed a C-section there. Mother and calf are doing fine. Lane named this new calf Lucky.

Motorcycle

In the summer, you might find Jerry and his wife, Ellen, delivering sweet corn to friends and family on their Can-Am Spyder.

   Once in a while Jerry and his wife vacation and as you might imagine, especially enjoy being in the open country. Jerry likes the open space of the west and has been to Alaska, parts of Canada, and Hawaii. This summer, Nova Scotia was their destination for several weeks of summer exploration.

   There have been many changes Jerry remembers from those early years on the farm. The equipment is bigger and easier to use. Now the tractor has a cab with heat, AC and even music. Coyotes and bobcats are new to the scene, so newborn calves are kept in the barn for a few days.

Jerry's New Holland

Jerry treated himself to a 2017 New Holland tractor last year.

   Squirrel hunting is the only kind of hunting Jerry likes to do. He doesn’t want to kill something unless it can be eaten. An ideal dinner would be fried squirrel with sweet potatoes and squirrel gravy.

   Bush-hogging keeps him busy in the summer months as he likes to have things looking neat at Robinson Farm. Many say, “It’s the cleanest farm in Noble County.”

Malabar Farm, Home of Louis Bromfield

Malabar The Big House

The “Big House” served as home to Louis Bromfield, his wife and three daughters.

Enter Pleasant Valley to find Malabar Farm, the dream of Louis Bromfield. Tour his “Big House”, visit animals in his barn, or follow the self-driven auto tour of Shawshank Redemption film sites. Spend a day or a weekend.

Malabar Smokehouse

Bricks for this smokehouse came from the Mansfield home of Henry Wallace, vice-president of the United States under Franklin Roosevelt.

Louis Bromfield, Pulitzer Prize winning author, was born in Mansfield. After a variety of experiences, he returned to that area for what he considered the perfect place to live. Two things he loved all his live were the farm and words.

Malabar Desk

Often Bromfield wrote at this desk while looking out the window at his farm.

It seemed he had trouble early in life finding that magical work that would please him. He went to agriculture college, studied journalism, served in the Army as an ambulance driver, journeyed through France and eventually came back to the United States to work at writing for several newspapers.

Malabar Gift Shop Books

The gift shop had a fantastic selection of Bromfield’s novels.

Following those experiences, Bromfield began writing novels, which won him high acclaim. His first book, Green Bay Tree, was a big success. His novels were always based on the people and places he knew well. He used a quilt pattern by taking one piece from here and another from there and fitting them all together. He turned his life into stories. All thirty novels were best sellers and several became motion pictures.

Malabar Pulitzer Book

His novel, Early Autumn, earned Bromfield the 1927 Pulitzer Prize.

His third novel, Early Autumn, won the 1927 Pulitzer Price for Novels. This financial success gave him opportunity to take his wife and three daughters to Paris for a few years and also visited India for a few months. How they all enjoyed life in Paris, but when threat of WWII was in the air, Bromfield brought his family back to the United States.

Malabar Portrait

This portrait of Bromfield and his wife, Mary, reminded them of their happy times in France.

In 1939, Bromfield settled back into his old hometown area of Pleasant Valley, where he purchased three farms, totaling one thousand acres. Since he enjoyed the Malabar coast of India, the farm was called Malabar, which means “gently rolling hills and valleys”.

Malabar Grand Piano

Bromfield’s daughter, Hope, played this piano for the wedding of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

Starting with the original farmhouse, he added several additions for a total of 32 rooms, including nine bedrooms and ten bathrooms. This “Big House” became the perfect place to entertain his guests from Hollywood. If you came to visit, Bromfield insisted you help with farm work. That’s how Shirley Temple learned how to milk cows and Jimmy Cagney to run a vegetable stand.

Malabar Wedding 001

This sketch by Tom Bachelder captured Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall cutting their wedding cake after being married at Malabar Farm in 1945.

A close friend was Humphrey Bogart, who asked Bromfield if he could get married at Malabar. Arrangements were made for Bogart and Lauren Bacall to have their ceremony there with 700 guests attending.

Malabar Bromfield at desk

This old photo shows Bromfield at one of his desks, where he did some of his writing.

Every room of their house contains shelves of books, nearly 4,000 total. Bromfield is said to have only slept two or three hours a night so that gave him extra time to read and write novels. His daytime hours were most likely spent pursuing his interest in agriculture.

Malabar Louis and Prince

The painting shows Bromfield with his favorite Boxer, Prince.

Over seventy dogs lived at Malabar during Bromfield’s life there and eighty percent of them were boxers. His favorite boxer was Prince. There’s even a picture of a ghost boxer dog still hanging around.

Malabar Guide, Alana and Jeep

Our guide, Alana, tells about the restored Jeep that Bromfield used around the farm.

His ideas as a conservationist changed the face of agriculture in Ohio. He needed to enrich the worn-out soil so planted soybeans and plowed them under to add nitrogen to the soil. Hillsides were planted around in strips to avoid erosion, and he promoted the idea of rotation of crops. His decision to use the spreading multifloral rose as a fence still angers farmers today.

Malabar sign

Malabar Maple Syrup Cabin

Over 650 maple trees are being tapped along the road to Maple Syrup Cabin.

In 1972, the state of Ohio accepted the deed to Malabar Farm and pledged to uphold its beauty and preserve the ecological value of the farm. Everything inside remains as it was when the Bromfields lived there. Then in 1976, Malabar Farm became an Ohio State Park.

Malabar Restaurant

Built in 1820 from bricks made on site, the Schrack Place has become Malabar Restaurant.

There’s no charge to enjoy the trails with rocks and caves, and the tour of “Big House” is only $5. Check out their calendar at www.malabarfarm.org for many exciting activities. Don’t forget the educational Welcome Center.

Malabar Shawshank Trail

Follow the self-guided auto tour of authentic Hollywood sites from the Shawshank Redemption movie, which was filmed in part on Malabar Farm.

If you enjoy a country drive on scenic back roads, Malabar Farm might be the perfect place for an adventure. Perhaps we’ll come back for a ghost tour in the future.

Malabar Farm is located in Richland County about seven miles southeast of Mansfield. Their address is 4050 Bromfield Road, Lucas, Ohio. Using your GPS would be a great idea as there are many country roads to travel.


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