News of Otsego County

Farmer’s Museum

Springtime for oxen

Spring training for twins Barley and Rye at the Farmers’

The training of the oxen at The Farmers’ Museum has begun and it’s fascinating.

“We have twins, they are Brown Swiss from Milford, it’s great!” said Bob Thompson, Associate Direcor of Agricultural and Facilities Support Services.

Twin brothers Barley and Rye were about a week old when they got to the Museum. Born in September, they already weigh 525 pounds apiece.  When they are grown, they will each weigh one ton.

“We just started training the oxen, we are training them to be working animals,” Sandra Vanalstine, a farmer at the Museum, said.  Ms. Vanalstine has been with the Museum for two years as a farmer and now in charge of training the oxen.  (By the way, ox is singular — one animal; the plural oxen means more than one.)

“I try to make it fun for them,” she said. “You start off by simply leading them, petting them, talking to them all of the time.  Then come the verbal commands and yokes.”

The twins work on commands before the farmer puts on the yokes.

“’Haw’ means turn left, ‘gee’ means take a right turn, and ‘whoa’ means stop,” Ms. Vanalstine said. “They understand those words.”

Farmers’ Museum slates spring classes

Farmers’ Museum slates spring workshops

The Farmers’ Museum opens its Spring Workshop season on Saturday, April 2, with a series of programs throughout the month and again in June taking place at the museum at 5775 State Highway 80 in Cooperstown.

The museum’s resident experts guide participants every step of the way, with activities that include blacksmithing, gardening, baking, printing, broom making, creating balms and salves, and more.

All workshops require advance registration. For descriptions, pricing, and registration, visit or

Spring Workshop Schedule:

Introduction to Blacksmithing Workshop

April 2, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

$120 / $110 members

Hot Frame Gardening Workshop

April 9, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

$120 / $110 members

Lippitt Farmhouse Baking Workshop

April 16, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

$105 / $95 members

Printing Greeting Cards Workshop

April 23, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

$95 / $85 members

Broom Maker Workshop

April 30, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.

$95 / $85 members

Balms and Salves Workshop

June 18, 1:00–4:00 p.m.

$80 / $70 members

Backyard Weeds Workshop

June 19, 1:00–4:00 p.m.

$65 / $55 members

Zeb the Horse

Not a day over 27

Say hello to Zeb, a Percheron working at The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown. He’s 28 in horse years — that’s 80 for us humans — and has been with the Museum since he was three (horse years). he’s more than 16 hands high, each hand equal to four inches, and weighs in at a svelte 1500 pounds. Bob Thompson, Associate Director of Agriculture and Facilities Support Services at the Farmers’ Museum, said Zeb is “pretty much retired now. He used to do wagon rides, plow the fields, and help cultivate the hops. He has arthritis but was a hard worker for a long time. Now he has a new job, he meets and greets all of our visitors! Everybody loves Zeb!”

The Farmers’ Museum brings ‘lantern tours’ back for another December

Tours end at Todd’s General Store, open this year for holiday shopping. (contributed)

The Farmers’ Museum brings ‘lantern tours’ back for another December

By Ted Potrikus • Special to

Holiday Lantern Tours return this December to The Farmers’ Museum — evening events guiding visitors through museum grounds by lantern light with talks on the history of December holidays, including Christmas, and how they were celebrated in Upstate New York in years past.

Deb Anderson, Museum interpreter and assistant to the director of education, said the hour-long tours “give visitors a real picture of what people in this part of New York State would do to celebrate the season every December.”

“In the 1840s, Christmas celebrations specifically were just coming into vogue,” she said. “We walk people through the traditional Yule and Winter Solstice of the era, the first Christmas card, the music, the introduction of the Christmas tree. We try to touch on all of the things that made the festivities of December so special in our region.”

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Dawn Photography on the Lake 09-04-21

Dawn Photography on the Lake


PHOTOGRAPHY EXCURSION – 7 – 8 a.m. Enjoy early morning walk and photo lesson all about how to photograph Otsego lake at sunrise. Presented by staff member Kevin Gray providing tips on composition, light & shadow, techniques and more. Cost, $17/non-member. Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1400 or visit

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Art Festival by Otsego Lake 10-02-21

Art Festival by Otsego Lake


ART BY THE LAKE – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Join artists of upstate New York to celebrate the beauty of nature and Otsego Lake. On show will be pastels, watercolor, oil, acrylics, photography, and many more mediums with demonstrations throughout the day. On the lawn of the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1400 or visit

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Golf for the Oneonta Theater 09-19-21

Golf for the Oneonta Theater


FUNDRAISER – 1 p.m. Fun golf tournament to support the Friends of the Oneonta Theater in their efforts to reopen the historic theater. Will feature 18 holes, a putting contest, silent auction, 50/50 raffle, more. Cost, $75/player. Oneonta Country Club, 9 Country Club Dr., Oneonta. 607-432-8950 or visit

Museum reinterpretation
The historic outdoor village at The Farmers’ Museum has been a good go-to location for people wanting to get out and do things despite the coronavirus pandemic. (contributed)

Museum reinterpretation

The Farmers’ Museum has remade itself during the pandemic
now it will turn one of its most popular weekends
into a month-long ‘Celebration’

By PATRICK DEWEY • Special to

As museums adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, The Farmers’ Museum has embraced its outdoor space and turned its living museum into a socially distant outing that still appeals to visitors.

With the rise of the Delta variant, the museum’s staff is replacing its weekend Harvest Festival with “Celebration of Autumn.”

The festivities are designed to spread out fall themes and happenings over a month-long period from Sept. 18 through Oct. 11. The goal is to incorporate cherished activities from the traditional weekend festival into early autumn at the museum.

Junior Livestock Show is cow-a-bunga
A cow enjoys The Farmers’ Museum Junior Livestock Show on Monday, July 12. (Kevin Limiti/

Junior Livestock Show
is cow-a-bunga

By KEVIN LIMITI• Special to

MIDDLEFIELD — The first thing noticeable at The 73rd Farmers’ Museum Junior Livestock Show is the noise.

Monday, July 12, there was loud mooing from all angles, a result of the cow show going on all morning.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Music Fest at Meadowlinks 07-12-21

Music Fest at Meadowlinks


MUSIC ON THE MEADOW – 7 p.m. Come out for free music by Bill Scranton and Jeff Ruzich performing Classic Jazz/Rock. Bring a chair and blanket, sit in your car, or roam the trails. Enjoy a relaxing evening out. Meadowlinks Golf Course, 476 Co. Rd. 27, Richfield Springs. 607-432-4026 or visit

Best Bets: July 8, 2021

Best Bets

July 8, 2021

The Friends of the Oneonta Theater are hosting a benefit car show to raise funds to purchase the historic theater. Come see 100 custom and vintage cars, enter the bucket and silent auctions, and enjoy live rockabilly music by Mark Pawkett and the Mopar Cams. Breakfast and lunch are available for purchase from Soda Jerks. Admission and parking are free. Action Lube Car Repair, 458 Chestnut St. in Oneonta from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, July 10. Call 607-287-8483.

Museums to offer Pride Month discount

Museums to offer
Pride Month discount

Two Cooperstown area museums are offering discounts to celebrate the end of LGBTQ Pride Month.

Anyone who shows a piece of rainbow flare, be it a clothing item, a keychain or anything else at the admission kiosk for both The Farmers’ Museum and Fenimore Art Museum, will receive $2 off a regular adult admission, Wednesday, June 30. People 19 and younger are admitted free to the Fenimore through Sept. 6.

Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be a mini-meet-and-greet at 4 p.m. on the Fenimore Art Museum’s lawn.

The Pride Month discount includes admission to the Keith Haring exhibition at Fenimore Art Museum:
The exhibit features an extensive collection of more than 100 works from a private collection including lithographs, silkscreens, drawings on paper, and posters, representing the full arc of Haring’s short but prolific career. The exhibit serves as “a tribute to this iconic artist and his dedication to social justice and the betterment of youth worldwide.”

An icon of the LGBTQ community, Haring’s work reflects his fervent activism and democratic beliefs. He spent his career making posters, public art, and charitable commissions in support of nuclear de-escalation, civil rights, child welfare and AIDS aware-ness, among other vital efforts.


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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103