Super Senior: The Book brothers

Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 5:25 PM EDT
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WEST HAVEN, Vt. (WCAX) - When you own 1,400 acres of land in West Haven, you need some wheels to get around.

Seventy-nine-year-old Charlie Book, his brother Harold, and the rest of the family have been farming in the small Rutland County community for generations. “Where else would you want to be,” Charlie said. Maneuvering around the property on an ATV, he gives a scenic show-and-tell. “That’s New York right there, Poultney River...”

Farming in the 21st century is about diversification. At this time of year, much of the activity is just down the road. “People come from all over to our corn maze and pumpkin fields,” Charlie said. “They love it here, it’s like going back in time.”

It’s truly a family farm. Charlie’s younger brother, Harold, runs the sawmill. His nephew Todd helps out with the cutting.

Reporter Joe Carroll: How are you doing with all of this?

Harold Book: Well, I do what I can do. Thank God I got my nephew.

There are challenges running a farm with an extended family with different personalities and abilities.”You got to learn to give and take a little to make it work,” Harold said. He says there is also the issue of aging. Last year the 74-year-old fell off a ladder and broke eight ribs. In the hospital, he did a lot of thinking. “Well, about life, you know, about life. My son is the local undertaker. I was praying he wasn’t the one taking me out of the hospital.”

Charlie is dealing with his own health issues. He says his muscles are wasting away. “I can’t be physically able to do it,” he said. “I find myself in the way more.” He now keeps busy doing most of the paperwork and taking care of the bills.

There’s something noticeably absent on the Book farm. The stalls in the barn are empty.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What was that day like when the cows left?

Harold Book: Well, it was like, you know, you just lose a part of you, that’s all.

Charlie Book: No more milking cows, no. We’ve got beef cattle and we try to keep the land open if we can.

Working hard to keep a Vermont tradition alive in an ever-evolving landscape.

“There are no words to describe it really. It’s just what you make it. You got to like it but it’s a challenge,” Harold said.

“We like what we’re doing. You work until you’re tired and you go home and get rested up and start out the next day,” added Charlie.