Echo Valley Farm
“This is it. Or turned out to be,” penciled my father, Willard (“Woody”) Klose, on the flyer from E.I. Hatfield, 46 Cannon Street, Poughkeepsie (“specializing in Dutchess County Properties”) advertising “Fruit and Dairy, 1403-A,” or what was soon to become Echo Valley Farm: “102 acres of land, 70 tillable, 26 in spring-fed pasture, 6 in woodland and an orchard
of 700 trees, all in excellent condition.”
Among the farm’s attributes were its location “one-half mile from the
state road, 2 miles to the village, bus line and cold storage plant, bus transportation for school children…” and “a large barn with room for
20 cows and 4 horses, running water… also, electricity.”
Turn-by-turn, the seasons roll on. As winter’s grip slackens in March, spring slip-slides in, all mud. Redwing black birds chirp and sway down
by the creek. The nights soften, fill with the sound of peepers. Quick as a wink, April, May and June rush in – round-the-clock months of seeding, weeding, haying and sweating. By July’s “dog days,” it’s best to just sit in the creek.
Through August and September, the world swells and bursts. Fresh corn and tomatoes rule! Then it’s on to ruddy October, the month of apples: apples red, apples green, apples yellow and in-between; apples in pies, cakes and sauces; apples bitten and dropped, apples bagged then baked; apples cored and strudeled; apples upon apples until thankful November arrives, the cold settles and Christmas calls.
Countless four-footed characters have graced the farm, too, among them: Hal, the retired New York City police horse with the tattooed lip and fondness for tobacco; our indomitable dogs of childhood, Cinny, the cocker, and Lad, the brave and foolish collie (he chased cars), the retrievers, Bridget and Basil, Mollie and Murphy; the inseparable “Pony and Donk,” a spotted paint and slate-gray donkey given to escape; “Spurs,” the 10-pound barnyard rooster who terrified my youngest sister; Toodles, Misty and Minty, cats loaded with personality, and generations
of 4-H sheep and pigs, from Spice and Mace, to Spot and Whiskers.
The family’s comings and goings have quickly consumed the years: from first, brave steps aboard big yellow bus “12” to Red Hook Central School, to the broadening horizons of college, service in the Air Force, Navy and Peace Corps, then on to careers in journalism, theater, publishing, teaching, public relations, the law, and farming, to marriages, some divorces, and the continuing, welcome arrival of sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and extended family.
Like many Americans today, most of us live elsewhere, but the farm remains our center of gravity. It’s also an iconic part of Red Hook’s agricultural landscape. To ensure that the white farmhouse, picket fence, red barns, fields and woodlands abide after our stewardship, we have
put the farm under a conservation easement.
Best of all, we are very happy that Kimberley, Thad and Luke, and their
wonderful Starling Yards Farm have joined us on Echo Valley Farm!