Samuel and Everett Randall’s Herd
Sunderland, Vermont, 1912 - 1985
In 1912 Samuel Randall bought a farm in Sunderland, Vermont. It is unclear whether he purchased the farm with any resident cows, brought some with him, or bought animals separately and developed his own herd. He had grown up on a farm with dairy cows and was very familiar with dairying and New England farming. In the early 1900s a 250-acre farm, with 60 tillable acres, was profitable from the proceeds of a 20-cow herd and other products. With him Samuel brought his seven year old son, Everett, and his wife, May. Everett Randall’s son, George, presently a Board Member of the Randall Lineback Breed Association, was born in 1938 and spent many years on the family farm. He saw the difficulty of keeping a 20-cow herd profitable in the mid-1900s and sought other opportunities.
For almost seventy-five years, Samuel Randall and his son Everett kept an all-round family farm, raising corn for silage, haying, logging, sawyering, milking, sugaring, and keeping small farm animals. Horses were used for heavy farm work until the tractor came in 1954. The cows were milked twice a day in a 22-stanchion barn. In the warm weather months they spent days and nights outside. Their rations were generally supplemented with grain from E.C. Crosby and Sons, Danby, VT. Come winter, however, they were kept inside almost 23 hours a day, with one outing for water. In wintertime they mainly ate the corn silage, cut by hand and then mechanically chopped, and hay, which was kept loose until the Randall family began baling hay in 1956. While milk production varied by season, it averaged approximately 2 gallons per cow per day. Milk shipping ceased in 1955, when a refrigerated bulk tank was mandated by the agricultural authorities.
Samuel Randall made the breeding decisions for the lineback stock until his death in 1962, and then Everett Randall continued until his death in 1985. They were both very proud of their lineback color pattern. They referred to the cows as “ our Linebacks ”. Asked about the breed selection criteria, George Randall commented that animals were selected for their color pattern as much as for anything else. Drawn as he was to the pattern of his linebacks, Everett Randall’s favorite color-side was the uncommon red color. Samuel and Everett Randall spent most of their long lives unknowingly creating and tending the herd of linebacked cattle which was destined to be the last genetic link with the American landrace herds of previous centuries in New England. Dr. Phil Sponenberg of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine has conducted blood typing studies confirming that the herd was long closed to outside crosses. In addition, blood types are consistent with an origin in North Atlantic-type breeds. Unfortunately, it is impossible to get any closer to specific relationships because all cattle from the North Atlantic region tend to be interrelated to some extent.
Upon Everett Randall’s death the Randall Linebacks lost their keeper. After a number of animals had gone to slaughter, Mr. Robert Gear, recognizing the Randall herd’s unique genetic makeup, sought a buyer for the remaining animals. After a false start in 1985 with owners who became uninterested, Robert Gear again sought a conservation-minded owner. Cynthia Creech, of Artemis Farm in Tennessee, answered the call and, at great personal sacrifice, began the rebuilding effort with only nine Randall Lineback females and six males. Conservation has proceeded in an organized genetic fashion under the tutelage of Dr. Sponenberg so that the remnant of Everett Randall’s life work was not lost. Conservation of this line of cattle became all the more important as the remaining threads of New England Landrace cattle became extinct. The Randall line of Sunderland, Vermont is all that remains.