Beaver Island Net


Design by 

Island Design

HomePlaces /  Burkes Farm

B u r k e ' s  F a r m

     West of the trails accessing the CMU cabins and up on the 20'-high East Side Bluff lies the remains of Mike Burke's farm.  Old farm implements and rusty cars are strewn about the area. The Irish settlers who first occupied this flat and wet plateau moved into one of the farmhouses abandoned by the Mormons at the time of their exodus.  This pristine location east of the old "White Dan" Greene farm supported Pat Burke's family dairy operation until the beginning of WW II. 
     Early in the 1900s the fields west of this farm held the spring rains.  Finally the Greenes dug a trench across the Burke farm to drain them.  The Burkes felt that this enterprise ruined their fields, though, and bore a grudge for the rest of their lives. Today that trench has been filled in, and driving down the King's Highway in the spring provides a sight of acres of standing water each spring.

     Until the Second World War there were several farms on the Island that raised livestock. Cows provided milk, but once a year they were shipped off on the ferry.  The boat was reserved for livestock on this day, and sometimes it required two days to transport them off.  There were some sheep, for which special pens had to be installed on the boat, but the main business was cattle.
     This was an exciting time in town.  Everyone came to the dock to watch. Farmers led their herds down the highway, each one marked (not branded, but with something like a special ear cut) to indicate ownership. Some of the steers had never had a rope on them, and they did not take kindly to the constriction. 
     Getting them on board was the most difficult aspect. Sawdust was put down on the ramp and in the boat to reduce slippage.  Despite the best efforts of the experienced hands, there was usually a steer or two that broke free, frequently winding up in the lake.  The only thing to do was to track them, to see where they came ashore and try to get another rope on them.  Sometimes these strays were not caught until weeks or months later. Despite their independent attitude, their owners would do their best to get them on the cattle boat the following year..




Also on Beaver Island . Net

Home | The Book | News | Places | Excursions | People | History | Contact

Content & Images © 1999-2017 Beaver Island.Net.  All Rights Reserved.