CFHS opens ‘From moo to you’ exhibit

The dairy industry was once a major player in the economy of the general Chadds Ford area. Not so today. Homes and highways now dominate the landscape that was once dominated by grazing cattle and the pastures they roamed.

In honor of those farming roots, the Chadds Ford Historical Society has opened a new exhibit, “From Moo to You.”

Displays include old photographs and models as well as a grain cradle ( a scythe-like device) and old milk cans and bottles.

The exhibit started as a nostalgic look back at the dairy industry in Chadds Ford, said Sallie Corbishley who put the exhibit together. While the industry is no longer of any contemporary importance, she said, there were some basic things she learned in the process.

“I learned what a grain cradle was and how to use it. Two, I learned what an ox is, which I never knew before aside from eating ox tail soup. … And the third thing I learned is that the dairy industry didn’t disappear because of development. It was WWII that caused the demise of the dairy industry.”

Corbishley said changes in laws requiring stainless steel to be used forced a lot of small farmers out of the business. Converting to the stainless was cost prohibitive for them, she said.

“The small farmers just couldn’t afford it,” Corbishley said. “Rather than buy the equipment they just said, ‘Forget it, we can’t afford it.’”

She added that development gave the farmers an option they would not have otherwise had if it weren’t for the post war building boom.

And it was another aspect of the post war era that also added to the end of the local dairy industry. Corbishley said the market dried up since there was no longer a large standing military that had to be fed and that there were many returning GIs who were farmers before the war, but who no longer wanted the farming life after they came home.

“A lot of the younger generation of farmers found other things outside of farming to do and a lot of the farmers who stayed around became old,” said Corbishley. “It was a number of things, but I can’t say it was development that killed dairy farming.”

Corbishley hopes that visitors to the exhibit come away with the thought that “Milk just doesn’t come in a box or a plastic jug from the grocery store. … That they will appreciate what goes into a jug of milk or a pound of cheese.”

One resident of Chadds Ford attending the opening is someone who knows what farming is all about.

Karl Kuerner, who several years ago turned his family farm over to the Brandywine Conservancy, said the exhibit brought back memories for him.

“The pictures bring a lot of memories back. The pictures show our cows,” he said.

When he saw the grain cradle he said that Chris Sanderson used to cut grain on the Kuerner farm with the cradle.

The Kuerner farm, he said, was primarily a dairy farm with about 80 to 85 head of cattle. He said there was always a lot of work to do, with no time to get into trouble. However, he said he and a fellow farmer from Pennsbury, Al Woodward, did have the time to hunt for arrowheads.

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About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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One Response to “CFHS opens ‘From moo to you’ exhibit”

  1. ccscurator says:

    I have always paid attention to dairy farms and also helped out a bit on one..I got to keep her from kicking..

    Your article will get me there!

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