A visit with Horace

Melissa Hart

After several phone conversations, Horace and I agreed that I would bring a hard copy of his ad for the New York Holstein News to his home and we would discuss any changes that needed to be made. Normally, editing and approval of ads is all done via email or texts, but this one was different. I was planning on being in Syracuse, New York for the fall board meeting and Horace Backus really wanted to see a hard copy of his ad proof so I decided to drive up through the wilds of upstate New York to Mexico and pay a personal visit to the living legend.For those who might not know him by one name, Horace has forgotten more about the purebred Holstein cow than anyone remembers and at age 95, he’s still rattling off pedigrees from the decades of reading them at every major purebred Holstein sale in the country. Horace knows Holsteins and Holstein breeders know Horace.I arrived at his doorstep and he led me into his parlor, assisted by his walker, where he had been waiting for his nurse to get back with dinner. His home was just as I had imagined with lots of literature, piles of dairy reading material and comfortable seating. Each room had the fingerprints of his lovely, late wife, Doris. He offered me the seat next to him as I pulled out a proof of his ad. He looked it over carefully, picked up a pen and began the editing process. I waited quietly, trying not to distract him with the questions that were teeming in my mind. For the next thirty minutes he would read, then put down his pen and ask me a question about Michigan. Then he would relate a story of someone he knew from my home state. We discussed this history of Long -Haven Farms, Hardys Holsteins and the impact of Green Meadow Farms on the Holstein breed. He talked about the many sales he helped managed down through the long history of his involvement with the registered Holstein cow and his recent venture to an 80th surprise birthday party for a Holstein breeder in Little Falls, New York.When he was satisfied with his edits, I tucked the marked-up ad into my bag and proceeded to leave. I would have been perfectly fine walking myself to the door, but noticed as I headed that way, Horace was following steadily behind me with his walker. I went down the steps and opened the door to the garage and when I turned around for one last goodbye, Horace was slowly and carefully making his way down the steps behind me. When he got to the bottom step and walked out the door, I thought he was going to show me something among the stacks of boxes of old Holstein Worlds and New York News magazines in his garage. Instead, we simply shook hands, he thanked me for coming and told me to drive carefully.As I drove away, I thought about what just happened. A man in his mid-nineties who uses a walker to maneuver around his home just took the time and effort to traverse down his steps to simply shake my hand and say goodbye. This was the gesture of a perfect gentleman and an act of chivalry that won’t soon be forgotten. Thank you, Horace for your time, your kindness and for making me feel like I mattered.Melissa is a farmwife, mom and freelance writer residing on a dairy farm in southern Michigan. She is available for speaking engagements by contacting her at Visit her weblog at