For 100 years Keewaydin Farm, on Route 100 south of Stowe Village, has been owned and operated by the Pike family.
Carroll and Ruth Pike purchased the 200-acre farm from Lute Harris in 1921. The brick farmhouse was built in 1819 with foundation stones cut from ledges bordering the pasture and bricks made on the meadow across the road. A four-bay cattle and hay barn was located south of the house and three other small buildings, including a corn crib, a sheep barn and a horse barn made up the complex.
While the couple were both graduates of the University of Vermont’s Class of 1916, Carroll gave up his Vermont career in education to fulfill his dream of a farm. Fourteen milking cattle were included in the sale, and it is said after his first milking his hands were so swollen, he needed to get help.
The couple’s first born, Merton, was 1-year-old when they moved to the farm. Two more sons, Milton and Morris followed, with Merton managing the farm for decades in his adulthood.
Morris remembers music in their youth. On Saturdays, opera poured from Ruth’s kitchen radio. The men were talented singers with natural abilities for harmonies. Sometimes the boys would sing together while milking, sometimes their father would join them.
Carroll, who was on the Stowe school board for 40 years, insisted on interviewing all potential new hires. Accordingly, the superintendent had to bring them to the barn during milking.
Over the years a large sugarbush owned by Stowe residents Fred Pike (no relation) and the Slaytons, owners of the contiguous farm, was added to Keewaydin. The Pikes were able to put up 700-800 gallons of syrup a year. It was an important business because it brought in cash: maple syrup paid the spring taxes, and potatoes, their other cash product, paid fall bills.
But milk was their main business. Their herd averaged 70-80 milkers, the average size of a good working Vermont farm. In the late 1930s the Pikes bought Mansfield Dairy from Clyde Nelson and achieved their goal of owning the full business cycle. They peddled all their own milk in the now-famous Skiing Cow “Mt. Mansfield Thrills Me” bottles.
Keewaydin owned the business for 28 years, before selling it to the Small family.
Five generations of Pikes have now lived on the farm and made it an important fixture in Stowe. The land and business purchased by Carroll and Ruth then passed to Merton and Ora Pike. Their son Les and his wife, Claire, began to take over the business after their marriage in 1971. At the present time their daughter Suzi (Denny) and son Dan take care of the herd, crops and machinery.
Claire and Les celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in September with their three children, Suzi, Sara and Dan, their spouses, and six preschool grandchildren. They are now the fifth generation of Pikes on the Keewaydin farm in Stowe.
Morris Pike lives at Wake Robin in Shelburne.