On the farm with Sheriff Maciol
“My heart is in law enforcement,” Sheriff Rob Maciol says after 30 years in the profession. “It’s about public service. Not a day goes by that I don’t make a positive difference in people lives.”
It’s made a big difference in his life. Being a cop is how he met his wife, Tammy. They both worked the night shift. He was a cop on the beat and she rang him out at Nice ’n Easy when he bought his coffee. Each of them grew up around farms. Now they have one of their own in Holland Patent: Six Point Acres Farm, named after the six points on his badge.
“The animals depend on us,” he said petting the nose of one of the brown cows. Sheriff Rob has a huge amount of responsibilities but spending a few hours on the farm I could see why he said it helps him “de-stress.”
Trenton, Remsen, and the villages in that part of Oneida County were originally settled by the Welsh who felt at home in the beautiful rolling hills. On the way to his farm we passed by historic stone churches and a 1890s bandstand and gazebo in the middle of a picture-perfect village green. Six Point Acres farm has a red barn and white silo surrounded by pasture with cows and baled hay, there’s a pickup truck, lots of American flags, all kinds of animals, and a field of sunflowers in the back.
“The office of sheriff is the oldest elected in history,” Rob said before we went into the barn. The Oneida County Sheriff’s office was established in 1798.
Maciol was elected three times to be the mayor of New York Mills, and in his last term before becoming Sheriff, was simultaneously elected to the New York Mills Board of Education. While doing all that he was also serving as a full-time police officer in Whitesboro. Now he is the Oneida County Sheriff and a farmer.
“It’s the 540 dedicated law enforcement professionals who work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, on the front lines who deserve all the credit,” he insisted.
“Do you need some wild boys to help you on the farm?” visitor Scott Tarkowski asked gesturing towards his two kids, Ryan and Jace, who were running towards the chicken coop.
It was time to gather the eggs. A rooster jumped off a milk can and scurried away while Sheriff Rob showed the kids how to find them in the hay where hens roost. They were all different shades of brown. Scott and the kids collected a dozen.
“We give away most of what we raise,” Rob laughed.
Ryan said, “All I smell is cow manure!”
Jace clicked his boots together and replied, “I like the smell of cow ‘mamure’!”
The crew boarded an all terrain vehicle and rode past long round bales of hay wrapped in white plastic, up a hill to the edge of the woods where he grew pumpkins that weighed over 150 pounds. They were almost white, as if they had grown too fast to fill in their natural color. They drove through the field, along side the crick, to where the pumpkins grew to more conventional color and proportions.
“You guys tell me what pumpkins you want,” Sheriff Rob said to the kids and I’ll cut them for you.
Inside the barn there were pigs, goats, soft, furry, rabbits, and a baby cow named Prince Harry. He was born premature and rejected by his mother on the day of the Royal Wedding. Tammy found him, Rob cut the umbilical cord, and their son Robbie dried him off and stayed with him all night in the barn.
Out the back, where a crescent moon lit the evening sky, a donkey named Jack came to door and brayed.
We turned around and met Maciol’s daughter Sydney, who has followed in her father’s footsteps and joined the Utica Police Department. “It’s a career where you can help people every single day,” she explained.
“I worry about her,” Sheriff Rob said, “but law enforcement is an awesome career.”
“This is the only elected office I’d ever be interested in,” he told me. “It’s the chance to be the people’s lawman.”