Historical Master Breeder Award Winner
Roy Arnold, Arnola Farms
North Carolina was the home of our Historical Master Breeder - Roy Arnold, Arnola Farm, Lexington, North Carolina.
James Roy Arnold was born on November 6, 1921, and lived his entire life on the same farm. His parents, Thomas Jefferson Arnold and Lula Ann Crouse Arnold, had 4-6 cows in 1921, separating the milk and selling the cream. Roy started milking when he was 6-7 years old starting school at age 7 (due to his November birth date). To quote Roy in a newspaper interview, “I was puny and so Mama would ‘get me up of a morning’ to go milk a cow so I would eat breakfast.”
His school principal knew he had dreams of becoming a dairy farmer someday, but said “Roy, I don’t believe you will be able do it, this far from town.” Roy graduated valedictorian of his class in 1940 and received the FFA American Farmer Degree in 1941, ready to set his goals to fulfill a childhood dream.
Roy met his future wife, Glee, at a funeral. A few days later Roy wrote Glee a letter explaining his interest and a year later, in 1944, they were married. They lived with Roy’s parents the next ten years.
Roy cut timber on the farm one winter and the next summer built the big Grade A barn. Roy had built furniture one year while dairying and with the help of a few local carpenters built the barn. More lumber came off the farm and the next year, using a Better Homes and Garden plan out of a local newspaper, a house was built across the road from his parents. They moved in on July 15, 1950. They had about 25 cows at that time. His greatest joy came in 1955 when his daughter Jill was born.
During the early 40’s, an area man was milking cows trying to keep a milk supply for soldiers at Ft. Bragg. For about $800, he was putting up little four stanchion barns to set up people in the dairy business. Roy and his father built a 6 stanchion barn. They purchased grain and grew most of the hay and silage; 10,000 square bales a year for the herd. They were milking 12-14 cows at the time. Roy, milking by hand, developed the muscles to be able to milk as high as 9-10 cows without getting tired. Once they had the little 6 stanchion barn, they bought a milking machine. When they had about 35 cows, they went from cans to a 500 gallon bulk tank, pipeline and expanded to a 14 stanchion barn. Eventually they built a single six milking parlor.
As Roy told it, he got his first really good Brown Swiss in 1958. He and Ray Crouse went up to Asheville where a cow jockey had brought in a herd of Brown Swiss. Ray bought three head and Roy one registered dry cow. Later that year, she became the top Brown Swiss in milk in North Carolina. In her first lactation, she had 4000 pounds milk. Once at Roy’s she consistently had 15-16,000 milk, a really good producer back then. She was the beginning of Brown Swiss at the Arnold’s farm.
A really good friend, Bill Morris, Boxwood Farm (and state president in 1962) had a little herd of Swiss near Concord. Roy bought six head from him. A few purchases at area sales followed during the next few years, nothing outstanding. One purchase included Baludo Boxwood Sadie 394403 who was purchased by Roy on February 1, 1963. She was a top cow and her daughters were all good according to Roy.
In 1967, the Arnolds had a dispersal and got rid of their Holstein cows. By 1982, they raised nothing but Brown Swiss. The name Arnola Farms came from an area ag teacher. The prefix was registered in 1964.
The chore of marketing milk was not always an easy task. For a while, they had to haul their own milk to get to a dairy for the best price. Eventually Aaron Crouse bought a truck and hauled milk for several herds. Roy said he was too busy taking care of the cows to be hauling milk, so he gladly gave the job up to Aaron. Aaron developed his own milk route; hauling milk to town and then picking up processed milk and bringing it back to the area delivering along the way. For 54 years Arnola was a Grade A dairy.
After the early purchases the herd was 100% homebred. He proved two Arnola bulls. Roy was instrumental in the proving of Top Acres Elegant Simon who was owned jointly with Wayne Sliker and became their herd sire. He was used on any animal in the herd not related to him.
Sidetracking a little bit is an explanation of how Swiss from the Northeast got into the Southeast, most particularly North Carolina. Each year a sale called the Southeast Production Sale was held in South Carolina. Fred Gauntt, Brown Swiss fieldman, would put together a group from the Northeast to send to the sale. Many of the North Carolina breeders purchased foundation cows at this sale. One such buyer was Bill Morris, Boxwood Farm, Concord. Also in North Carolina the NC Government Research Farm was established. Their prefix was N C Mtn.
Hillwinds Taffy C 311660 (4th dam Tscheirva) sold in 1959 at the first Southeast Classic Sale. She came from the James Britton herd in Leyden, Massachusetts, managed by Bill Notter, 2013 Historical Breeder honoree. She was purchased by Bill Morris and had a daughter Boxwood Paula S. Paula was later sold to the Research Farm. In 1971 when Jill was in high school, she and Roy went to a state sale. At the sale you made a sealed bid (not a live auction). Jill picked out a yearling heifer which they put a bid on. They were successful and N C Mtn Alaric Pauline 552194, a granddaughter of Boxwood Paula S, came to Arnola Farm. Little did Jill and Roy know what a foundation purchase she would be for Arnola Farm. Classified “2E” at 11/09 she was a “Superior Brood Cow” with a lifetime over 157,000 milk. At 10 years of age, she had a daughter, Arnola Pauline Peggy 683395. Peggy was born in July 1980 and sired by E E Beautician King. At 12/06 she was scored “4E” and was also a “Superior Brood Cow.” At 7/07 in 365 days she had 28,410 pounds milk, 1002 pounds fat and 903 pounds protein. Her lifetime total was 194,450 milk, 7081 fat and 6454 protein.
At the 1986 National Sale in Lockport, New York, Roy sold her daughter, Arnola Peggy Priscilla 717943. She was born on March 22, 1983, and sired by Top Acres Elegant Simon. Wayne Sliker of Modern Associates managed the sale and one of the reasons she was selected was for the Brown Swiss breeders to see what kind of cow Simon was siring. When visiting the Arnola herd in the early 80’s, Wayne started to follow the progress of an interesting cow family N C Mtn Alaric Pauline. Old Pauline had a silk udder and a world of dairyness. She epitomized maternalism. Priscilla sold for $10,000 and went to Top Acres at St. Paris, Ohio. Her credits include at 15/07 she was scored “5E91” and at 6/10 in 365 days she had 30,250 milk, 1339 fat and 1034 protein. Priscilla was Nominated All American as a 3 year old in 1986. She was National Total Performance Winner in 1989 and 1991 and designated a “Superior Brood Cow”. She had 81 offspring including 43 daughters, 14 of them scored “Excellent”. Three of her daughters followed in her hoofprints and were National Total Performance Winners. Top Acres Ray Peggy won in 1993, Top Acres Dotson Paisley ET, 1995, and Top Acres Dotson Polka ET in 1998. Other well known daughters include Top Acres Emory Price ET and Top Acres Present ET. Noteworthy sons include Top Acres Combo Preston ET, Top Acres Dotson Prophet ET, Top Acres E P Premium ET and Top Acres Combo Pretus ET. Wayne has never hesitated to market the good ones and the Priscilla descendants have spread coast to coast and internationally. It would be hard to find a sale catalog in the last 20 years not including a descendant of Priscilla and thus Roy Arnold’s breeding. This year’s Blessing’s consignment is another Priscilla descendant! (The September 2017 heifer topped the sale at $10,100.)
In early 1983, The National Brown Swiss Type Committee met in North Carolina for a conference with one of the workouts at Arnola Farm. Gordon DeMay was chairman of the committee. A cow caught his eye when they were there. Gordon called Wayne to tell him he should get her for the national sale that fall in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She was Roy’s first consignment to a national sale, out of a homebred bull and a granddaughter of the aforementioned N C Mtn Alaric Pauline. Arnola Louie Jessie 667817 sold for $9500 and was purchased by Gordon and Kathy DeMay, Palmyra, New York. At 18-0 she was classified “5E92/92MS” in 1997. Her lifetime credits were 289,880 milk, 9911 fat and 8346 protein. Jessie had a very unique statistic: She was on continuous test for over 10 years, never dried off, no BST. She was #1 on a list published by Hoard’s Dairyman for cows on continual monthly test. The “Elite” and ”Superior Brood Cow” had 32 offspring, 16 daughters and 16 sons. Most noteworthy was Towpath Telstar Aytola ET who went into A.I. Service and had 2321 daughters. Her daughter, Towpath Emory Jasmine 816873, became a foundation cow at RNR Swiss, last year’s Active Breeder Award winner. Proving the longevity of Swiss, Jessie died when she was 20 years, 7 months of age.
Other Arnola cows bred by Roy that did well for others were . . . Arnola Princess Payday OCS 858902, born 7/1/95, was sold to Leon Button, Rushville, New York. At 15/2 she scored “5E91” and was a “Superior Brood Cow”. At 3/06 in 365 days she had 29,390 pounds milk, 4.7%, 1391 fat, 3.4%, 1009 protein and had a lifetime over 200,000 milk. Arnola Possible ET 802682, another daughter of Arnola Pauline Peggy, was “Excellent” with 22,735 for a high record. She sold in the Wisconsin National Sale in 1992 and was purchased by Galen Fick, Boyden, Iowa. In 1993 at the Minnesota National Sale, her daughter Arnola Possibly Priscilla 823119 sold. Consigned by Galen, she was purchased by William Yarosh and Gene Henderson of Iowa. Classified “2E90” with 31,070 milk, 1445 fat, 1106 protein in 363 days at 4/08, she was All American Senior 2 Year Old in 1995 and All American Senior 3 Year Old in 1996.
Jill came back to the farm in 1975 to help her dad. She and Barry Conrad were married in 1977 and joined the operation. All the labor was supplied by the Arnold family. The family milked around 70 head, owned 230 acres and rented 100 acres. Part of the farm went back to an original land grant to the family. The herd was on DHIR from 1978-1995 and won state production awards. On July 15, 1964, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Jefferson Arnold and their son and daughter-in-law, Roy and Glee, hosted the North Carolina Field Day, Picnic and first North Carolina Canton Show. Over 100 were in attendance. Jill’s heifer won her class and was Grand Champion of the show.
From 1989 to 1995, Roy served as District III director, representing the Southeast area. Roy and Glee loved their trips to the conventions and making friends with fellow Brown Swiss breeders. A national member since 1965, he was very active in the state association. Outside the Brown Swiss world, Roy was a member of the grange and an ASCS board member. He was a charter member of the New Jerusalem Lutheran Church. Music was an important part of his life; he believed in playing music to the Glory of God. Square dancing was an enjoyable pastime for Roy and Glee. Roy served as president of the PDCA board; as well as president and director of the county DHIA, was on the county farm bureau board and the local fire department board.
Music and art were a large part of Glee’s life. She loved to play the piano and wood carving was her favorite past-time for 25 years. As she’d sit and visit, her knife and a piece of wood were in her hands as she whittled away, gifting people with her finished item - and a few even made it into a Fun Auction.
In 1995, Roy decided to retire from the dairy business. The EPA had visited the farm several times and had concerns with a stream that flowed through the dairy farm. Rather than “spending an enormous amount of money” to meet their regulations, Roy retired. His regret was not for himself, but for Jill - it was her life too. The herd was dispersed through groups of animals sold privately. Buying 13 head in the spring of 1996 was Brad Garst, New Windsor, Maryland. One of the animals, Arnola Samie, was Honorable Mention All American 4 Year Old in 1996. Six more of the group were directly from the Priscilla family.
One cow remained after all the rest were gone, never to be sold. Arnola Brittany went back to Boxwood Sadie, one of Roy’s first Brown Swiss. She provided milk for the family and Glee made cottage cheese and butter with her extra milk.
Roy passed away on January 28, 2006 at age 84. Ruth Glee Arnold passed away on October 6, 2016 at age 98.