We all love good cows. We also admire good cattle breeders. When you find a good story teller to add to that mix, you have met Charlie McEvoy of Marathon, New York. Whether you are a member of his family, a friend or a fellow cattle enthusiast, Charlie is one of those good people that inspires everyone who knows him to sing his praises. Of course, he is far too modest to agree but quite simply states, “I’ve been driven by my love of cattle and the thrill of breeding the next generation.”
A Holstein Family Man
Family means a lot to Charlie McEvoy. In 1951 his parents established Mac-Mara Holsteins in Marathon, New York. Charlie was 16 years old at the time. His father Ken played an important mentorship role in Charlie’s life. He was a farmer and also sheriff of Cortland County for 27 years. “Dad was my good friend, partner in the farm and a man that who was respected by everyone he met.” Sixty-two years later Charlie is now the respected role model. He continues his love for registered Holsteins as 2013 President for the New York Holstein Association. He has served on many boards and committees and always encourages the next generation.
There are many reasons for Charlie to be proud of his legacy but he is quick to proclaim what he feels to be his finest achievement. “Caroline and I have raised eight children that are great kids and fantastic parents for our 18 grandchildren.” Today Charlie is in partnership on the farm with his youngest son, Ken and his wife Lydia. The other seven are professionally employed in their chosen careers: engineer, lab tech, accounting , sales, town high employee, retired cooperative extension agent. They are all proud of their agricultural roots and the sons still find time to show and help at the farm. On the cow side his herd reached 113.1 BAA in 2008. Great achievements in family and in the barn.
The Rail McEvoy
It was in the early 1950s when McEvoy met Henry Thomas, a nationally known cattleman who Charlie felt, along with Casey Sly, “were the first great cowmen I got to work with.” During those days, Charlie traveled across the country by railway to shows in Columbus, Chicago, Waterloo, and points farther west. He tells the story. “My first trip on the box car was when I was 14 years old with McDonald Guernsey Farm going to the National Dairy Congress in Waterloo. It was the first trip of many. In the box car each cow or bull had their own stall. We would brush them regularly and their tails were washed daily. We would put 8 mature cows and 4 younger head on a box car. Over the top of them we would build a deck that housed hay, feed, water and our cots. It took about 5 days to get from Cortland to Waterloo. We would load the cows in the morning and let them get comfortable and acclimated to the car. At night the engine would come to take us to Binghamton to meet more show herds and head west. We’d stop in Buffalo to add more cars and head to Chicago where we’d spend a day getting rearranged to go to Waterloo. Once at Waterloo a tack truck would meet us to haul our show gear and we would lead the cows to the fairgrounds about a quarter mile away. During the ride on the box car we lived on cheese, crackers, sardines and beans.” Those grand kids are going to hear good stories!
Charlie Has A Way With Cows
Doing what he loved throughout six decades provides Charlie with an opportunity to meet and work with the best in the business. He has worked with such iconic herds as Dreamstreet, Lylehaven, Pamtom, Arethusa and many others. Herb Kerr, owner of Pamtom Farm, often referred to his famous Star Marie cow as “Charlie’s Cow,” as he was the only one to show her at the National Shows. From Charlie’s viewpoint two things stand out from those experiences. “What made it special were the amazing cows that each string had in them.” And then he adds “But what made it more memorable was the great talented people I got to work with. Any amount of pressure and hard work is easy when you’re laughing.”
The Award Winner of Marathon
In 2006, Charlie was honored for his dedication to the Cortland Classic show, and, in 2007, for his outstanding fellowship and sportsmanship at the New York State Fair. McEvoy’s career as a farmer and a showman has included a number of awards, among them New York State Active Master Breeder (2009), Northeast Fall National Holstein Herdsman Award in Springfield, Mass., the Stanley Murphy Award, the New York State Fair W. Stewart Stephens Memorial Award for Outstanding Fellowship and Dedication as a Showman. In 2009 Charlie McEvoy, was named the 68th winner of the Klussendorf Trophy, the highest recognition given to a dairy cattle showman in the United States. He says, “It was a humbling experience.”
Showman. Sportsman. Herdsman.
Charlie has had a long and distinguished career with dairy cattle and has witnessed tremendous changes. He points out. “The speed at which things change or move is mind boggling. I’m from a generation when you mated cows it was with bulls that you’ve seen daughters out of and have reliability. Now we use a son of a young sire out of a heifer that hasn’t calved yet”.
To this day, he still loves the show ring and is enthusiastic. “The quality at any show up and down the line is amazing. The modern cow has so much style, balance, openness of rib combined with dairy strength and a sewed on udder. Also the fitting practices have changed so much. When I first started out we would clip their heads and shoulders and then blanket them. Now toplines and belly hair are groomed to perfection.”
Looking back at cows that have had impact on the Holstein breed Charlie singles out Aitkenbrae Starbuck Ada. He explains his choice. “She is one of my favorite young cows of all time. Her descendants, whether male or female, have changed our barns and show strings forever.”
Closer to home his love of breeding the next generation of cows makes narrowing down the list difficult. “It is hard to choose just one “greatest”. There are so many special cows but I guess the first ones that jump to my mind are Millervale Ultimate Rosalyn and Camp-Hollow Ultimate Kate. They were Grand and Reserve at World Dairy Expo in 1983. Taraley Astro Sherry was another favorite, just because she was an awesome individual and a true dairy man’s dream.”
Committed to Cows and Community
Dairy cattle remain a passion for Charlie who does chores every day and still finds time to think about the next human generation as well. He has served on many boards and community groups. McEvoy served as the dairy supervisor at the Broome County Fair for 30 years. While supervisor he encouraged the creation of a milking parlor which demonstrates the milking procedure to the public. He has been an advocate for the youth in agriculture, assisting many with the pursuit of their dreams.
Charlie recognizes that changes are inevitable and has seen many of them. Looking toward the future he says, “Hopefully the greatest change will be the American milk pricing system. If it aint broke don’t fix it. If it is broke over haul it.”He offers this advice. “Work hard, stay positive, take advice from ones that have been in it, visit and see other successful farm operations and when possible diversify your farm to provide different avenues for income. “
The Bullvine Bottom Line
Much has changed in the dairy business from the shows to the barn to the cattle themselves, but Charlie inspires those who learn from his dedication and hard work. A family man. A cow man. A gentleman. Goodness knows Charlie McEvoy is as Good as Gold!