Little Nine Partners Historical Society recently launched an exciting new project. Agriculture has been an important part of the history of Pine Plains and the surrounding region, and we wanted to honor and preserve that legacy and share it with the community. Time was of the essence, because these stories could be lost forever. To that end, we hired a professional director/editor team (with ties to the town) to interview and film local farmers and produced a documentary called "Our Farms, Our Farmers".
The first public screening was held on March 4, 2023 at the Stissing Center as our kickoff event for the Pine Plains Bicentennial. It was an amazing success!! We are now looking into other showings. The film will later be made available to all through our website while the raw unedited footage will be archived for reference.
As funds become available, we hope to expand our project to include more stories. Your contribution towards this effort is greatly appreciated.
Please send your tax-deductible contribution today. Donate online through our website here:or by sending your check to the historical society at P.O. Box 243, Pine Plains, NY 12567. Please specify "agriculture program" with your donation.
We would also like to encourage you to contact us with your own stories and photos of farming in Pine Plains. Please use the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We thank you in advance and invite you to share these efforts with your friends and neighbors,
LNPHS Agricultural Committee/Executive Producers:
L. Parker Stephenson
MEET THE FARMERS
John O. Boadle was born in 1939 in Norwalk, Connecticut. He moved to Pine Plains at the age of two when his parents were hired to manage the farm at Charles Place (present day Merison horse farm) on Silvernails Road. John’s father was from Great Falls, Montana where, as a teenager, John learned to drive large grain trucks for his three uncles. His mother was from Pittsfield, MA, raised in a family of farmers.
At the age of 5 or 6 Boadle was already showing dairy cows as part of the town’s 4H program. He attended Pine Plains Central School and went on to earn his degree from SUNY Cobleskill College of Agriculture in 1960. He came home weekends, alternating between working at Frank Hedges farm and Bill George’s.
Boadle credits much of his farming knowledge to Ed Scherer, who taught Dairy and Agriculture for over twenty years, and Frank Hedges, who ended up restarting the local Future Farmers of America (FFA) program in 1976. Hedges farm, now known as Lo-Nan Farm, was purchased from him and his wife Edith by Nancy and Lloyd Vail, Sr. in the 1970s.
When Boadle wasn’t milking, plowing, planting, or haying, he was with other farm boys at the stock car track down the road in Lebanon Valley watching races and working on cars. After Cobleskill, he worked at Ford Tractor for ten years and served as a bus driver for Pine Plains Central School. Boadle’s facility, interest and enjoyment of mechanics continues to this day. He spends the winter doing custom rebuilds of old tractors and other pre-computerized farm equipment. He also continues to organize the annual Tractor Pull and Pine Plains Farm Toy Show & Auction which he founded close to 30 years ago to benefit FFA.
Boadle has two children (who are not in the farming business) and a wife, Patricia, who has retired to her animal rescues, caring for dogs, cats, a yard-full of chickens, donkeys, goats and a horse. If you see someone astride a tractor driving along Route 82 or Route 199, wave to John Boadle, because chances are it’s him.
Ronald Osofsky aka Ronny, Ronnie or Ron was born in 1941 with a love for the farm and desire to spend all of his time with the animals. His parents, Helen and David welcomed a daughter and two additional sons in quick succession over the next 5 years. The earliest stories of Ronald include his parents having to fence the yard to keep him from running to the barn. However, he quickly burrowed underneath leading them to work even harder to keep him safe in the yard. It was at their first farm on Route 22 in Millerton that his Aunt Mim, who was visiting from Texas, suggested the name Ronnybrook for the farm, after her sister’s first-born son. While the kids were still in elementary school, the family moved near Copake and then over the hill to what became known as the home farm on Schultz Hill Road in Pine Plains.
His desire to further his education led him to the University of Rhode Island, where he studied Animal Science. After graduating in 1962, he returned home to farm and to substitute teach at the Pine Plains high school to make some additional money. His parents supported his dream to start his own farm in the area and he moved a few miles away to a more modern facility on Route 82. He fell in love and married a local girl, Kathleen Freney in 1971. They welcomed Jonathan, Carey and Daniel, as well as some beloved Golden Retrievers over the next decade. This is also when Ronny’s interest in high end dairy cattle genetics peaked. Investor cattle was becoming popular in the 1980s, which brought an influx of interest to dairy farms in the Hudson River Valley. It also allowed him to expand the scope of his business, including the purchase of the old Deleval Research Farm on Prospect Hill Road, the location of Ronnybrook Farm Dairy today.
Aside from his family, one of his proudest accomplishments was the breeding of the bull, Ronnybrook Prelude, who for a time was one of most popular in the world and sired record-breaking cattle across the globe, going on to become a great influence on the Holstein breed through his progeny. While he loved the farm and the lifestyle it provided his family, he longed to ensure a sustainable business model for the farm. After becoming friends with their new neighbors from the city (Stephen and Sheran James), the two couples, together with his youngest brother Sid and his wife Joan, spent a lot of evenings imagining and designing what ultimately became Ronnybrook Farm Dairy.
In 1991, at 50 years old, he helped launch this whole new business and began farm processing and direct retailing to customers through farmers markets and retail stores throughout the tri-state area. It started small, with a focus on milk in glass bottles for the local area, but quickly grew into a major brand in the NYC market. Ronny always loved talking to customers and sharing his passion for the cows and their products. He also really listened to customers, which is how the label grew to include a full line of dairy products and has become a household name between the farm and NYC This has led them to partner with local dairy farmers and build a business straddling the Dutchess and Columbia County line, which elevates farming and employs over 45 people in the local area.
There have been bumps in the road, including a year in the hospital leading to a heart transplant, but the joys have outweighed the sorrows. While Ronny passed away on May 13, 2022, he lived to see the next generation growing & joining the business. Perhaps most importantly, with Kathy at his side, Ronny was able to enjoy it all from the fertile soil of his childhood, his roots firmly attached to Pine Plains.
Rick Osofsky grew up on his family’s farm in Pine Plains, New York. By the 7th grade, Rick worked almost every day on the farm working in the barn with the cows as well as working in the fields which was his first love. He became quite a proficient mechanic and after his father purchased the local Ford tractor dealership with a few other local farmers, he attended Ford’s training center in Albany where he became a certified diesel mechanic.
After high school, Rick attended Wesleyan University graduating in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. After Wesleyan, he entered NYU School of Law and graduated with a Juris Doctor degree in 1969.
Rick’s first job following law school was working as a speech writer and legislative aide to United States Congressman Richard McCarthy from Buffalo New York. While in Washington, he met his future wife Jean whom he married in 1970. Returning to Dutchess County, Rick joined the law firm of Guernsey, Butts and Walsh in Poughkeepsie and ultimately opened his own office in Pine Plains.
Throughout these formative years, and even though away at school or working as a full-time lawyer, Rick was fully engaged with the family farm. On weekends or holidays, Rick could be found at the farm doing field work or repairing equipment. Rick has served as Town Attorney for the Towns of Pine Plains and Gallatin. He has also served on the Board of Education for the Pine Plains School District, including two terms as Board President. Rick presently serves on Congressman Antonio Delgado’s Agricultural Advisory Committee.
Lloyd Vaill, Jr.
My parents grew up on family dairy farms in Litchfield and Goshen Connecticut. They moved to Pine Plains primarily because of the greater availability of quality land and more economical price.
It was my intention for as long as I can remember to farm. I worked on the farm as a kid and was 100% committed to taking it over after high school. I am grateful that my parents gave me the opportunity while challenging my new thoughts and ideas.
After graduating from Pine Plains I started working on the farm while taking night classes at Columbia-Green Community College. I would give a tremendous amount of credit for education from several youth organizations (4-H, FFA, and the Holstein Club) that I was involved in. They provided much trade specific education, and more importantly leadership skills that become a necessity when running a business.
Today we have approximately 625 milking cows and 550 heifers, producing around 6000 gallons of milk per day. We belong to the co-op Agrimark. As a co-op we own several cheese plants and our milk can be enjoyed thru Cabot and McCadem products. We also farm around 5000 acres throughout Dutchess and Columbia county, growing corn, alfalfa, and soybeans. A portion of the corn and alfalfa is grown for our own animals. The remaining corn is sold as silage or grain to other local dairy, beef, and poultry farms such as Ronnybrook, Millerhurst, and Feather Ridge to name a few. Soybeans are either exported thru Newark NJ, or sold to a place in central New York that separates the oil from the bean.
Kenneth Barrett Chase
I am a fourth generation Pine Plains resident. My grandfather (Frank Chase) owned a general store. My father Kenneth Fulton Chase became a dentist and had a split practice between Pine Plains and Rhinebeck. He purchased our farm in 1937 and stocked it with a herd of fifty registered Holsteins. He loved the cows and farm but needed a manager and two men to run the farm.
I was born in 1941 and the farm was always an important part of my growing up. I had two older sisters and a wonderful mother.
I graduated from high school in 1960 and attended Colgate University from 1960 to 1964 and then served in the Peace Corps in Ecuador from 1965 to 1967. I returned home to farm but took advantage of the opportunity (1968 -1970) to use a fellowship from Montana State University where I had my Peace Corps training to obtain a Masters in Economics in case farming did not work out.
Happily returning home to farm in 1970; I married Rosemary Lyons in 1971 and we farmed and raised our three children - Farley, Rory and Sarah.
My father taught me to love the Holstein cow and their pedigrees, and my wonderful mentor Charley Lamont taught me how to husband the land. We farmed with Charley and another hired hand for the next 36 years.
Sarah and Rory are now keeping the farm viable. Sarah is farming organically and selling her milk and meat retail at her farm store as well as providing milk to Rory who is making artisanal cheeses. They have adapted well to the changes in our industry.