Connection to the Past – Daffodils And Cows With The Morosanis
In 1941, Remy Morosani, eager to start a dairy farm and spread the popularity of Brown Swiss cattle, acquired 120 acres on Wigwam Road. His wife Virginia envisioned rugged ledges sprawling with daffodils and planted 10,000 bulbs.
Remy’s commitment to improve the breed was recognized in the mid 1950s when one of his 80 cows was crowned world champion. Unfortunately, the success was insufficient in sustaining the farm.
By 1955, the emerging interstate highway system empowered larger operations to transport milk throughout New England and local farms began to disappear. Morosani sold the herd in 1956.
The daffodils, however, kept blooming and multiplying, and the couple focused on raising six children, including John, the youngest son, who was only a toddler when farming ceased on the property.
Eventually, John grew up and traded Litchfield for New York, started his own family, and enjoyed a successful career in investments. His parents resided on Wigwam Road until their deaths; afterwards, their house became a weekend destination to escape the commotion of city life.
One Sunday in 2002, while enjoying a mountain-bike ride with his friend Jim Abbott, Morosani mentioned the thought of reintroducing cows on the property to control overgrowth. “It basically all started because I said, yes, it would be a fun project and a good idea,” reminisces Abbott, a Thomaston resident.
A few months later, on his 50th birthday, Morosani received the perfect gift: an Angus cow. With that gesture, his wife Joanie bridged a connection to the past, between a labor of love that began nearly 80 decades ago and continues today at Laurel Ridge Farm.
Morosani added more cows, gave up city life in 2007, and his friendship with Abbott quickly evolved into a thriving business partnership between their two families. Morosani oversees the organization while Abbott handles the daily 200-cattle operation. Bunny, John’s daughter-in-law, has taken over haying. “It truly is a team effort all around,” notes Bunny, crediting her husband Daniel, the entire Abbott family, and other helping hands for pitching in whenever needed.
Gathered around a patio table on a warm day, the trio shares many stories. Some are sad tales of newborn calves lost to a frigid winter or claimed by coyotes. Most, however, inspire chuckles and testify to the resilience required of farmers: bovines outsmarting electric fences and venturing into neighbors’ yards; getting caught in lightning and heavy rains while caring for the herd; recapturing a cow that escaped, leading to a roughly two-hour chase.
They laugh, admitting their initial lack of knowledge. No one would guess that today when Laurel Ridge is a top three grass-fed beef producer in Connecticut. They credit the success to hard work, mutual respect for each other’s contributions, and a commitment to raise cows ethically: without hormones, antibiotics, grains, or pesticides. This is what many consumers want, which leads to another crucial component: community support.
“To make any money you need to stay close to the buyer,” explains Morosani, who sells his product at Litchfield Hills Farm-Fresh Market, the farm storefront, and New Morning Market in Woodbury.
Morosani says ultimately not much has changed on Wigwam Road in nearly eight decades except the property size, which now stretches 700 acres. Under the same vast sky and on the same bucolic hills, family, friendships, and cows continue to grow. And every spring, so do Virginia’s golden daffodils. About a million of them.
“I think my parents would be very happy to see the farm today,” Morosani affirms. “We are stewards of this land, and we’re working to keep it protected and untouched.”