The next time you are traveling along Route 47 between Woodstock and Hebron, look for a sunlit oak savanna on the east side of the road where the road crosses the Nippersink Creek. The savanna marks the place where the Shaw family once pastured their dairy cows. The cows are long gone, but the son that spent so much time playing and working on this land is still there.
“It was pretty well pastured when my parents first moved to the farm in 1939,” recalls Lloyd Shaw. “The cows were allowed to run loose up until the late fifties, when my dad fenced in the pasture on the west side of the creek. At that time, the Extension Service was encouraging farmers to plow into wetlands and plant reed canary grass to provide more pasture land for the cows. That worked great until the grass got to be about ten inches tall and then the cattle wouldn’t eat it.”
“Later on, my parents sold off the house and barn, but kept 26 acres of pasture. After they passed away, my sister and I inherited it, and I eventually bought my sister’s share.”
Some of you may know Lloyd as Dr. Shaw, the recently retired veterinarian who practied for many years in Woodstock. He’s spent a lot of his free time over the past fifteen years clearing brush and adding more wildflowers. And he plans to continue now that he’s retired.
“When I was a kid, all the neighbors would gather here every Fourth of July. We’d have a big picnic and spend all day here. At 4:00 everyone went home to do chores. Then they’d all come back and have supper. It was a lot of fun.”
The creek meanders past oak and hickory groves, wetlands and prairie. “In the spring, when the creek was high, we’d make rafts and ride down the creek. We’d have campfires down there and camp out, and catch suckers and carp and then let them go.”
Lloyd wanted to make sure this place that holds so many memories will be preserved forever. He worked with TLC on a conservation easement that will permanently protect it from future development. It will always be a place where the oaks and hickories grow. And maybe someday, kids will once again camp out here, catch fish and float down the river in a homemade raft.