MVHS Dairy Farm Presentation Stokes Applause
It was an afternoon stoked with memories and two rounds of appreciative applause. The guest speaker not only knew her topic, but lived it. Maple Valley Historical Society captured old jokes, passé heresay, forgotten facts and 30 audience members with their heritage meeting, “Maplewood Farm & Elliott Farm.” As the speaker addressed local dairy history, the audience shared info regarding their own family farms. The two-hour presentation could be replayed as trivia competition.
Trivia questions: 1) What was the purpose of a metal tag attached to the ear of each dairy cow? 2) By 1920 what caused traffic congestion two times a day on Maple Valley Highway near Renton? 3) What, if any, mechanical tool or machine is required to make butter? 4) What provision for attending school was available in Tahoma District but not Renton? 5) In what decade was the first Maple Valley area tractor used? 6) What business venture supplanted Maplewood Farm? 7) In 1915, what was considered most healthy for babies – cows milk or breast milk? 8) Which food contains more protein, a quart of milk or a 12-ounce steak? Answers are at end of article.
MVHS speaker Leann Krainick is a member of King County Land Advisory task force. She chairs the King County Agricultural Commission. The commission’s goal is to save 66,000 acres of green space in the next 30 years. That’s a task costing $1.5 to $1.8 billion dollars to accomplish. “Our job is to figure it out,” she said. “We are operating under the philosophy ‘to keep the present on track is to look at the past’.”
Mike and Leann Krainick began personal dairy life on a farm they inherited in Enumclaw. It is now Krainick Ag Products, LLC. She and Dan, unaware that Maplewood Golf Course had a local farm history, exchanged their wedding vows in 1999 at that unique setting. The clubhouse was set on the grounds originally known as Maplewood Dairy. Leann’s degree in farm management would have been uplifted by knowledge of the success and grandness of Maplewood Dairy and its renowned milk production.
Leann and Dan purchased 12 cows in 2012 and now milk 1,250 cows twice daily on 1200 acres; thus, their personal experience with state and federal regulations and ecology rules. The couple has also since purchased but re-named “Dairy Farming: Then and Now,” a traveling educational display of historic farm life. At various local and state fair settings, the display is used to teach communities about families who still care for animals. Last year their theme was “Butter.” No real cows were present but a fiberglass cow dubbed “Buttercup” provided families the fun of milking. Ironically, Buttercup cost three times as much as the real deal, a cow. At the King County Fair in Enumclaw their display won Peoples Choice Award.
In her talk, Leann told of the late 1800’s when R.J. Elliott owned and leased 213 acres of Maple Valley property. Elliott Farm, including farmhouse, dairy barn, and a tremendous amount of out buildings were constructed between 1906 and 1911. In 1990 the farm was designated as “landmark” by King County Landmarks Commission and has been at the center of discussion about the importance of historic preservation. The name “Elliott” was already established for the area before the farming pioneer R.J. Elliott arrived. R.J. constructed the buildings referred to as the “epitome of design” and attentive to detail. State of the art is now a common phrase to describe the construction R.J. gleaned from his past in the Midwest and Ontario, Canada that is known for Victorian architecture. His farm buildings and dairy care benefitted from concrete floors, a watering system and electricity via hydro plant, all previously unheard of in the area. R.J.’s great grandson, Bruce, shared at the MVHS meeting that his own father knew the whole town of Renton because he delivered bottled milk to at least half of them. Asked why his father attended Tahoma High School instead of Renton, Bruce declared, “Because Maple Valley had a bus driver.” The route encompassed the entire periphery of Maple Valley from Jones Road to Hobart to Ravensdale to “downtown” Maple Valley.
Elliott Farm was neighbor to Maplewood Dairy. Descendant John Orton whose great uncle homesteaded Maplewood Dairy also attended the Hobart MVHS event. Maplewood was recognized for topnotch cows and quality milk that earned many, many dairy awards in the Midwest. Krainick noted that the area’s ecology supported good grass and clean air and healthy water for farms. Maplewood Milk, more than any other dairy in the Seattle area, won many medals. The importance of dairy and farming was recognized in 1924 at the White House when Calvin Coolidge was president. The World Dairy Conference felt “called to encourage Americans to make more of this world in which we live and of this country of which we are joint inheritors.” Ironically, that seems to be the theme of Leann Krainick’s lifestyle, her career choice, her dreams and destination – to preserve our land, our heritage.
Trivia answers: 1) ear tags indicate the dairy cow was inoculated for tuberculosis; tattoos are often used now. 2) Elliott Farm cows crossed the highway in a herd from pasture to milk barn mornings and evenings 3) butter can be made by shaking cream with one’s hands – a great activity for children 4) a school bus driven by Mr. Pumphrey 5) 1917 at Elliott Farm 6) Maplewood Golf Course 7) due to nutrition issues particular to those days, cows milk was considered healthier 8) milk. YOU WON!