News of Otsego County


The Old Badger: The badger takes flight with the aviators

The Old Badger
The badger takes flight with the aviators

First published in The Freeman’s Journal on Aug. 16, 1978.

TonyYackey – that’s not a name that falls easily from one’s lips. However, it is a name that fell frequently from the lips of Cooperstown residents during the summer of 1919.

Lt. Tony Yackey was a decorated aviator, an honored veteran of the air war in France and one of the convalescents at the Army Hospital here. Tony was from Detroit and Tony was tough. He was brash, adventurous and “called ’em as he saw ’em.” His speech had not yet been refined.

Dog Charmer by Tom Shelby: Dog is depressed over death of companion

Dog Charmer by Tom Shelby
Dog is depressed over death of companion

Dear Tom,

We have two goldens, Chloe, 6, and Bonnie, 14½. They have been together since Chloe was a puppy.
Sadly, Bonnie died suddenly this past Wednesday. Along with our anguish and moping about, Chloe seems to have picked it up also. She seems very flat.

Is this normal? Can you suggest anything we can do or just wait it out?

Appreciate your comments,


Bound Volumes: September 16, 2021

Bound Volumes: September 16, 2021

Excerpts from a general address to the Farmers, Mechanics and Workingmen of Otsego County: “The time has arrived when it has become necessary for us to come forth as independent freemen, in defense of the rights and privileges for which our fathers fought and bled. Our political institutions which have resulted from the wisdom of those revered statesmen and patriots, and to establish which they nobly periled their lives and their fortunes, are based upon the only true principles of Republican government – the equal rights of every citizen. These rights, we hold, are basely violated by the enactment of unequal, unjust, and unconstitutional laws, and by the encroachments of aristocratical monopolies. These systems of nobility, possessing exclusive privileges, which are spread over every part of our country, will, if not checked, destroy our republican institutions and fasten upon us the change of servitude.”
September 19, 1836

Life Sketches by Terry Berkson: An egg layer with a taste for egg eating

Life Sketches by Terry Berkson
An egg layer with a taste for egg eating

I have a problem with at least one of my chickens. She’s been eating eggs out of the laying boxes. It’s hard to determine which one is the culprit, but if left unchecked, the habit will be contagious. Egg eaters are aggravating. I’ve already consulted local experts, Vaughn and McNulty, who told me the problem is likely because of a calcium deficiency. “If you don’t have oyster shells,” Vaughn said, “you could give them some Tums which are loaded with calcium.” After taking a Tums myself, I broke up the rest of the roll and mixed it in the feed.

Opinion by James Herman and Wayne Mellor: Local ag pollution is down, but so is farming

Opinion by James Herman and Wayne Mellor
Local ag pollution is down, but so is farming

One can read all manner of truly dire reports about the global use of agricultural chemicals. Billions of dollars have been set aside to settle lawsuits alleging agricultural chemicals caused claimants’ cancers. Millions have been awarded, but we still do not have enough science to fully back up the claims. So where does Otsego County stand in relation to these reports?

Opinion by Julie Dostal, PH.D.: Prevention comes in many forms for LEAF

The drunk-driving roadster is being used at local schools to show students how drug and alcohol use affects driving. (contributed)

Opinion by Julie Dostal, PH.D.

Prevention comes in many forms for LEAF

Prevention is a common word in our culture. We use it in a variety of contexts, such as prevent heart disease, prevent bug bites, or prevent kitchen fires. It’s good that it is common, because, at the root, prevention simply means, “to stop a problem before it ever starts.” That’s the work we do at the LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addictions. It is at the heart and soul of our connection to the people of Otsego and Chenango Counties.

Editorial: Live free and die?

Live free and die?

With the news this week that the Lewis County General Hospital in Lowville was going to “pause” operations of its maternity services because of the resignations of several members of that department who refused to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the not unexpected consequences of the recent New York state and federal mandates for healthcare workers suddenly hit very close to home. While it is certainly difficult to envision both the future of these workers when no other work options exist under the circumstances and the potentially disastrous impact of the mandates on a notoriously understaffed profession, one cannot help but wonder what possible reason these workers have for surrendering their professions by refusing a vaccine that has been well proven as safe and effective, and is without question saving millions of people from a devastating disease and a gruesome, untimely death.

The Dog Charmer by Tom Shelby: How to help an anxious new puppy stay home by itself

The Dog Charmer
by Tom Shelby

How to help an
anxious new puppy
stay home by itself

Dear Tom,

She came to us at 12 weeks at the start of pandemic lockdown. Well, I know it’s my fault for taking her everywhere with me, for putting her in her crate at night and staying until she settles, etc.
With three adults in the household, she focuses on me ALL the time. If I go out without her, she’s a mess till I return.

How can I help her to stay alone for a few hours without losing her mind?

Sadie is an 18-month-old Havanese.

Marty DeLaney

Dear Marty,

You’re so right in referring to Sadie as a pandemic puppy!

You’re not alone. I was writing and telling people at the beginning of the pandemic, “Get out and get the puppy used to being alone.”

My guess is that 40 to 50% of the (hopefully) post-pandemic questions I’ve been getting have to do with separation anxiety.

The first thing I’d suggest is that you start making Sadie less dependent on you by asking the two other adults in the house to help. If they feed her for a couple of weeks instead of you, and take her out for occasional walks it will broaden her worldly view. You’ll always be her sun amongst many stars, but decreasing her neediness for you will make her more confident, which is exactly what you want, and a good start.

It would be great if the other two adults in the house called her from time to time and when she arrived, she got a treat. Sadie will appreciate it, too.

Henceforth, when you leave the house, de-emotionalize leaving and coming! If you appear
sorry to go or overly excited to return you’re emphasizing the separation.

Your goal is to make Sadie happy to see you go because that’s the only time she gets fantastic treats, like a hollow marrow bone with chicken or ham wedged in the middle of the bone. Remove it when you get home! The best toys only happen when you’re not home. Then there’s exercise.

I’ve been saying it for many years, “A tired dog is a well behaved dog.” In my book, “Dog Training Diaries,” aside from my crazy experiences and stories, the dos and don’ts of separation anxiety and aggression are given a great deal of attention.

Good luck,

The Dog Charmer

Cooperstown author Tom Shelby will be answering pet owners’ questions on training
their dogs. E-mail your questions to

Up on Hawthorn Hill by Richard deRosa: While popping beans from the vine, thoughts come to mind

Up on Hawthorn Hill
by Richard deRosa:

While popping beans
from the vine,
thoughts come to mind

Thoreau was determined to know beans well. Over the past several days I, too, have come to know beans well, black beans that is.

We harvested our first black bean crop last week, hung the plants in the barn to finish up the drying process (too much rain to leave them in the ground), and are now popping the hard black beans out of their pods and into glass jars for storage.

Life Sketches by Terry Berkson: A silo salesman striking with a sledgehammer

Life Sketches by Terry Berkson:
A silo salesman striking
with a sledgehammer

Over the years, Paul Sarafin had come to believe that silos were like barometers. “When the economic weather for farming was good they went up” he says. “And when it was bad, they often came down, sold secondhand to someone looking for a buy.”

Sarafin, 78, lives near Richfield Springs, and had been in the silo business for almost 50 years.

At first, he built them for the now terminated Harder Silo Company out of Glens Falls, but after several years of wrestling with the heavy hoops and staves, he was promoted to salesman. In past years, because of hard times, it had become more and more difficult for Sarafin to make a sale. He said a farmer who already had the bill collectors on his back was more than reluctant to go into hock for an average $25,000 concrete stave silo.

But back then a silo was the only solution for a rainy summer when a farmer couldn’t string a couple of sunny days together to dry out hay to be stored in the mow. Bailed and stored too wet, hay can heat up from evaporation, resulting in spontaneous combustion and a barn fire. Similar to a canning jar, a silo would preserve grass or corn even when they were not pre-dried, thus enabling a farmer to deal with a wet summer like the one we are experiencing this year.

For several years, the sales competition had been so fierce Sarafin considered it a near miracle when he sold one of his silos, which could be distinguished from other brands by the alternating red to plain blocks at the top. His sales pitch was that he had no pitch, just a homespun, direct but patient approach. “Sometimes I’d visit a farm six or seven times thinking I was softening a farmer up only to find a competitor’s silo standing against the barn the next time I’d show,” Sarafin said. To make matters worse, the handsome cylindrical structures were now being replaced by bunkers covered with tarps and old tires or silage bags laid upon the land in aesthetic compromise.

Years ago, with one son in college and the other about to be married, Sarafin was under extra financial pressure. Often, to ensure a sale, he’d offer perks like free hardware or repairs to another existing silo. It was late in the season and he thought he was going to lose a sale outside of Sharon Springs, so he offered to demolish John Burr’s old, worn-out 50-foot silo for free. That sealed the deal.

Normally the demolition would incur some out-of-pocket expenses to purchase dynamite or to rent a bulldozer, but to cut costs, Sarafin used a unique approach which required one simple tool, a sledgehammer.

“I knew how to build them strong and I knew how to make them weak,” he says. But silos don’t fall like trees and even though the salesman had done this job several times before, the outcome was still unpredictable and dangerous. The many tons of concrete could fall back onto the barn, or worse, catch and crush him as he scrambled to get clear. “Unlike trees that creak and groan before they fall,” Sarafin says, “silos let loose all at once.”

So, with his sons’ tuition and wedding bells in the back of his mind and a flimsy cable anchoring the top of the silo to a tractor, Sarafin went to work loosening the bottom support hoops. Then he began to break out the concrete staves with the sledgehammer as Burr and his family looked on. When Sarafin had broken out more than an 8-foot hole in the silo wall, it didn’t even quiver. He was banking on the whole thing falling towards the section he was demolishing. After several minutes of hammering he stopped to look up at the top. He seemed a little nervous. There was no sign of movement.

Sarafin began ham-mering again, the heavy blows echoing inside the silo. He broke out several more feet of staves and then suddenly threw the hammer to the side. The immense structure leaned towards the cut, pulverizing concrete and making it explode under the shifting weight. Sarafin bolted as the silo let loose and fell in a thunderous heap.

When the dust cleared, it revealed a benign pile of rubble.

“How’d you know it was going to fall just then?” Burr asked.

“Tuition,” Sarafin said as sweat ran down his face.

“You mean intuition,” Burr replied.

“Yeah, that, too.”

10Later, the silo slayer said this was the last silo he would demolish with a sledgehammer, but then he had said the same thing two silos before and new expenses were bound to be coming soon.
After Harder went out of business, Sarafin worked at a foam packing plant in Fort Plain and freelanced at silo repair and supply during off-time and on weekends. When asked if he saw himself as some kind of modern day hero, Sarafin, now retired and wintering in Florida, smiled and said simply, “I put bread on the table.”

Letter by Edward T. Lentz: Town of Lisbon garage project becomes subject of rumors

Letter by Edward T. Lentz: Lisbon garage project becomes subject of rumors

Rumors and misstatements are rampant in New Lisbon about the proposed new highway garage. We don’t need a new garage! We can fix the old garage! Taxes will go up by 20%, 30% (pick a number)! There are conflicts of interest! Professional fees are exorbitant! The proposed garage is too large and too lavish! Plans are being rushed! No one is considering alternatives! And more.

Tribute by Sam Goodyear: George Goetz loved Springfield summers, books, art

Tribute by Sam Goodyear:
George Goetz loved Springfield summers, books, art

He looked, with his shock of snow-white hair, like Boris Yeltsin. His bearing was ambassadorial, with all that the word implies: courteous, cordial, tactful, informed, balanced, refined.

George Goetz, longtime summer resident of Springfield, died in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, on July 25 at 90, in the gentle loving presence of his family.

Best Bets by Larissa Ryan: Ride for Sept. 11

Best Bets by Larissa Ryan:
Ride for Sept. 11

To commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11, ride your motorcycle with the Legion and the Red Knights, Chapter 44. All proceeds go to scholarships for the children of veterans since the 9/11 attacks. Cost is $20/participant. At the American Legion, Post 259, 279 Chestnut St. in Oneonta. Registration is from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m., with kickstands up at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 11. For info: 607-547-0494 or visit

Bound Volumes: September 10, 2021

Bound Volumes
September 10, 2021

Public Notice – The subscribers, being legally
authorized to use, and to vend to others to be used the impenetrable stucco, invented by Charles Morneveck, for covering the roofs of houses. Notice is hereby given to any person, or persons desirous of making a trial for
themselves, or of purchasing the right to use, or vend the same in any place not previously disposed of, may be accommodated by calling upon the subscribers in Hartwick. Moses Barns, Luke D. Hinman, Luther Bissell.
September 7, 1811

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