FARM IS UNIQUE IN DIVERSITY
Fronting Niagara Parkway, half way between historic Queenston and old Niagara-on-the-Lake, is a farm which is unique in its diversity. "Old Meadow Farm" is the new name under which the H. H. Larkin Farm is now registered. The 450 acres, owned by Harry H. Larkin of Buffalo, are what now remain in the family name of the vast holdings of Mr. Larkin's father, the late John D. Larkin.
Division of property among members of the family and subsequent sale to the Niagara Parks Commission and other interests have reduced the acreage, but Harry H. Larkin carries on his father's interest in the land. With the arrival recently of 10 head of pure bred Guernseys from Stirling Farms in Pennsylvania, the herd of "Old Meadow Guernseys" has been increased to 21. Eleven young cattle arrived in April from Locust Grove Farms, New Jersey.
The large cattle barn, which, until two years ago, housed a herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle, is being entirely modernized, and a dairy, fully equipped with the latest installations, is being provided. William Paton, the herdsman, has thirty-seven years of service with Larkin Farms.
In another barn are 250 sheep. In the past 30 years, or more, Larkin's Southdawns have become known throughout Canada and the United States, and the Farms also possess the nucleus of a flock of Emden geese. The shepherd, Lionel Orbell, is one more Larkin's employee who can boast of more than thirty years' service.
There are 200 acres of pasture, grain and hay as well as 30 acres of bushland. This year, 1000 bushels of wheat, 1600 of oats, 4500 bales of hay, 3000 bales of straw, besides corn yet to be cut, have been harvested. Though 3 teams of horses help with the work, the farm is highly mechanized. Its equipment includes three tractors, hay baler combine elevators for lifting baled hay and straw to the lofts and sprayers. Electricity and city water are in houses and barns alike.
Larkin's 125 acres of peaches, possibly the largest peach orchard in the Niagara peninsula, produces yearly between 25 and 30 thousand packed baskets besides some 150 to 200 tons of fruit sorted for the factory. Larkins' baskets are very carefully packed and their bright labels carry a guarantee of quality fruit. Although the acreage devoted to other fruits is not as great as that given to peaches, some 2,000 bushels of apples, 30 tons of grapes, 2500 baskets of sweet cherries are grown and young' orchards of plums and sweet and sour cherries will soon increase the yield of fruit.
To assist in the work of fruit picking and thinning, Larkins maintain Pine Grove Camp where approximately 30 Farm Service Force girls are comfortably housed in a large cement building, well equipped with showers, a large dormitory, recreation, laundry and dining facilities, staff rooms and kitchen.
Substantial homes, the majority boasting all conveniences of city houses, provide comfortable living for the ten men employed the year round by Mr. Larkin. Seasonal needs are met by extra help. Four of the present employees, including Manager Robert G. Pirie, have each had over thirty years of continuous service at the Larkin farms.
NEW FARM REPLACES OLD.
Every Canadian school boy knows that General Brock won a decisive victory for Canada in the War of 1812; only a comparative few living in or around the Niagara Peninsula have been privileged to visit the fine old monument to Brock which stands on the escarpment near Queenston Heights. Marking the spot where the General is believed to have fallen on the eve of his victorious battle, the monument towers above a pleasant, tree-shaded park maintained by the Niagara Parks Commission and those who have the temerity to climb to its top are rewarded by a commanding view of the Niagara River and a broad stretch of the famous Fruit Belt.
Up till recently one of the largest farms to be seen from the monument was the well-known Larkin Farms, noted for more than four decades for its Aberdeen Angus cattle, its Southdown sheep, and the prodigious tonnages of apples and peaches grown on the farm, which at one time comprised 2,000 acres. Following the death of its founder, John D. Larkin, a Buffalo industrialist, the family division of the property and subsequent sale of land to the Parks Commission and others, a son, Harry H. Larkin now carries on his father's love of good farming, withal on a smaller scale.
Fronting the Niagara Parkway, midway between Queenston and old Niagara-on-the Lake Mr. Larkin now has 450 acres of the old Larkin Farms, and is carrying on the old Larkin traditions, which means both livestock and fruit growing. What is even more interesting and commendable is that he has retained most of the old stuff of veteran farm help, several of them men who came from the Old Country years ago, bringing with them skills and knowledge which are reflected in the air of well-being which pervades this well-kept farm.
The one major change which has come with the new ownership has been the shift from beef cattle to dairy. This 'past spring the big barn which formerly housed the Aberdeen Angus, was completely renovated in the modern manner, and it now houses a growing herd of high quality, high producing Guernseys, most of them imported from the New England States and Pennsylvania. A new name has been chosen, the farm now being called "Old Meadow Farm".
Still Have Good Southdowns
1 The one section of the old farm which has been carried over almost intact at Old Meadow Farm is the flock of around 250 Southdown sheep. For more than 30 years Lionel Orbell has been breeding and showing the Larkin flock, and his winnings at Toronto shows alone would fill many columns. More recently a small flock of Embden geese has been added to his care.
To feed the livestock around 200 acres produce hay, grain and silage, as well as plenty of pasture, which has water laid on. There is even a thirty-acre bush. Although the farm is highly mechanized three good draft teams are kept, and seem to find plenty of work to do. There are also three tractors with the usual cultivating machinery, a haybaler, combine, not forgetting the extensive spraying machinery needed for the orchards. As befits a farm in the Fruit Belt there are 125 acres of peaches, possibly the largest in the Peninsula, usually producing between 20, and 30,000 baskets as well as up to 200 tons of fruit sorted out for the canning factory. At the moment only 2,000 bushels of apples are grown, 2,500 baskets of sweet cherries, 30 tons of grapes and some prunes, but young orchards of cherries and plums are coming into bearing soon.
To assist in fruit picking and peach thinning, etc., the farm has its own Pine Grove Camp, where about 30 Farm Service Force girls are comfortably housed in a large cement building. Well equipped with showers, laundry, sleeping and dining facilities, the girls have plenty of lawn space for recreation in their spare time.
Substantial homes, the majority boasting all city conveniences, provide comfortable living quarters for the ten men regularly employed at Old Meadow Farm, while seasonal needs are met by extra help.
Four of the present staff can each boast of over 30 years of service with the Larkin interests. These are Robt. G. Pirie, the farm manager; Lionel Orbell, the shepherd; Wm. Paton, the herdsman who is revelling in all the new gadgets in the dairy barn, and Alex (Sandy) Nicol, a teamster.