Toplands Farm is located on ~650 acres in Roxbury, CT. Historically a dairy, the farm transitioned largely into hay production in the mid-90s while also raising beef, pork, and eggs for friends and family. In addition to our expanded beef herd, the farm is home to a collection of farm “pets” including donkeys, cows, goats, chickens, and occasional visitors from other farms.
Toplands Farm is also home to Double D Living History Farm which maintains the largest collection of restored antique tractors and farm equipment in the Northeast.
Toplands Farm. LLC and Double D Living History Farm, Inc. aim to inspire an intimate connection between the local community and the land. Through our pasture raised products and extensive collection of restored antique tractors and farm equipment, we seek to create an environment where the community can learn and benefit from time-honored agricultural methods.
History of Toplands Farm as told by owner, Dudley Diebold
Written by Dudley G. Diebold, Owner
My parents, A. Richard Diebold and Dorothy Diebold, purchased Toplands Farm in 1942 from Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Seeley. They used the old “Lock, Stock and Barrel” contract, which means that they got everything: land, buildings, animals, machinery, and household items. My parents renovated and added to the old farm house and spent their first summer on Toplands in 1943. The farm, back then, was a typical diversified family farm. There was a large orchard, mostly apples, to which they added some peach trees.
The farm crops were hay, corn and oats. Mother had a huge vegetable garden and put up things such as pickles, jams, jellies, beans and other canned vegetables. They had chickens, guinea fowl, milk cows, calves, pigs, a team of work horses (named Nip and Tuck), and an old farm dog named Bepo. I was told, years later, that the horses listened to commands in Polish rather than English, because most of the farm hands during that time were Polish! My parents had two men working the farm with some part time hands during the busy summer season. Mr. Weaver and his wife lived next door and George Weeks came in by the day.
1940s: The farm building complex was behind my parents’ home, so that the barnyard came right up to the back lawn. The cow barn, bull pen, and pig pen were all together, and built into the hillside so you drove up a short ramp into the hay loft. There was a shop, a milk house, and a garage in the complex as well.
By 1945-46 plans were in place to build a new complex across the road from our home. A large Dutch gambrel barn was soon built which held 60 cows and calves. Two silos were built, one made of cement, one made of wood, to hold silage for the cattle. Unfortunately, disaster struck at 4:15am one winter morning. The barn burned to the ground, mostly due to lack of water and fire equipment. Luckily only one calf and a tractor were lost. The cows were moved to a vacant barn on Painter Ridge Road, about a mile from Toplands and remained there for about a year until the present barn was built. Over the years more barns were built to hold livestock, hay and equipment.
1950-1960s: Two more silos were built when the number of Registered Holsteins grew in the mid-1950’s and early 1960’s Toplands was selling bulk overseas and to stud services in the United States. We reached a peak at 145 head. The farm had grown to about 650 acres, of which half was woodland. Grain was no longer grown as the land was needed for hay and corn. There were no more pigs, chicken or horses. The farm became home to a pair of donkeys and the tradition has carried on through the present day.
In 1983, Ken Murphy packed up his family and moved from Upstate New York to Roxbury, CT to join the Toplands Farm team. The Murphy family has been a staple of the farm ever since. In 2006, Ken’s son Sean joined the staff. The father/son team reinforces the strong familial connection we promote here at Toplands.
By the early 1990’s seasonal help was becoming harder to find and the cost of producing milk was growing. In 1996 the milk cows were sold, and the farm went to hay production as the main source of revenue. We sell most of our hay to horse customers in Connecticut’s Litchfield County. We also sell meat to family and friends and eggs to the general public.
Toplands continues to be home to three donkeys, beef cows, chickens and occasionally visiting Percheron horses. We are currently expanding our beef program, allowing us to reach more consumers interested in locally raised food.
Toplands is also home to a large collection of antique tractors, trucks and farm equipment from around the country that I have been collecting since I was a boy. We restore all of the machines to working condition and paint to original specifications right on the farm. Through the Double D Living History Farm we offer tours on an appointment basis for individuals or groups interested in the history of farming and antique machinery.
If you are interested in more information on our beef or a farm visit, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you and Best Wishes from our family at Toplands Farm! Dudley Diebold