KENT-There are only about 200 Randalls in the world, and about 130 of them live in South Kent, CT.
What is a Randall? It is a rare heritage breed of cattle developed exclusively on the Randall farm in Sunderland, Vt., sometime around the beginning of the 20th century.
First bred by Samuel Randall, then by his son, Everett, the cattle developed in virtual isolation over an 80-year period, until Mr. Randall's death in 1985. The few remaining animals were sold to someone the owners believed would continue the breed. Instead, the animals were neglected and some were sold off until a tall, slender, rock-hard, no-nonsense woman from Tennessee heard of their plight and became obsessed with Randalls.
Cynthia Creech's journey from a good job as a judicial assistant for the U.S. government in her native state to being the owner and breeder of the world's largest herd of Randall cattle at Rock Cobble Farm in South Kent, CT is the story of a woman on a mission-a woman smitten by a cow who then made it her life's work to bring that cow and her relatives back from the brink of extinction.
There were fewer than 20 Randalls left when Ms. Creech heard of the plight of these animals, but she has helped return the numbers to a point where the herd and the breed are sustainable. The cows can now begin to produce milk, beef and veal.
Ms. Creech grew up in Knoxville, a city girl except for a brief period during her childhood when her mom bought a broken-down farm with a few old cows and a stiff-legged horse. Ms. Creech spent most of her life living, working and going to school in cities. But the old broken-down farm of her childhood kept returning to her thoughts as she grew older, and one day she found herself dreaming about cows.
"I always liked farming" she said, "and in 1987 I saw an ad in the The Country Journal looking for someone to rescue the Randalls."
"I bought the cows before I had a place to keep them," she said. But find a place she did, and with borrowed money and the rest of her savings she bought Artemis Farm in Jefferson City, Tenn.
"I never owned a herd of cows before. I made mistakes in the beginning. I didn't know a whole lot about cows, and the cows didn't know too much about me," she said.