A fond farewell from Breakneck Hill Cow Fund

Above: The site of famous Belties grazing at Breakneck Hill is one many in town are going to miss. They’ll be saying goodbye to the conservation land this fall. (Photo by Susan Fitzgerald)

The Breakneck Hill Cow Fund sent me news that they shared with Friends this week.

The costs of maintaining a sustainable herd have grown to be too much. After 14 years, most recently struggling ones, they are giving up on the cause.

It’s news that has been coming since last March. At that time, the fund asked for help with a herd “in peril.” Then in April BCHF announced it was likely the herd’s last season on the conservation land.

The announcement prompted an outcry from the community and showing of support. BHCF responded with a request for practical solutions and volunteers to implement them.

Some supporters answered the invitation to a brainstorming session. But it seems that the necessary solution and/or helping hands never came to fruition.

Monday’s letter posted to the Southborough Belties blog and sent to supporters shares the fund’s reasons for closing shop. It also reminisces about the good times and thanks the community for its support:

On their blog a post note also  includes a promise to contributers:

We will be making arrangements to return recent contributions to our supporters. We will be in touch once those arrangements have been finalized.

So, what happens now?

A fund representative tells me they’ll be working with the Conservation Commission to begin reducing the herd in the next few weeks. In the meantime, cows will be grazing on the conservation land up until the beginning of November as usual.

After that, Paul Bourdon will continue to keep a few cows along with other animals on Breakneck Hill Farm across the street (at 61 Breakneck Hill Road). The public is welcome to visit them.

For past coverage of the cows, click here. For some wonderful past pictures, click here.

Now, here is BHCF’s farewell missive: 

September 28th, 2015

Dear Breakneck Hill Cow Fund Friends,

It is with great sadness that the Breakneck Hill Cow Fund has decided that that we are no longer able to sustain a herd of Belted Galloways on the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land. We began this journey in 2001 to “save the cows” with a very suspicious Farmer Ray Davis. The adventure grew into a restoration project, an agricultural passion, and a way to bring a bit of Southborough’s agricultural past to life. Children and adults from Southborough and surrounding communities have enjoyed watching calves being born, cows grazing against the backdrop of flowering apple trees, families enjoying “Farm Day” and excitedly waiting to see what square the “cow pie” would be dropped on and so many of us finding peace while walking the trails alongside these beautiful animals. 

Recently, The Breakneck Hill Cow Fund (BHCF) learned that recommendations for the management of the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land would reduce and limit the amount of grazing areas for the cows. Lack of rain over the past few years has negatively impacted the quality of existing grasses. These factors make the need to feed the cows hay during the warmer months necessary, and costly, to maintain a healthy herd and have contributed to our decision to close our operations.

Reflecting upon the past 14 years, the BHCF and the cows have brought us joy. There are so many people who have been instrumental in the success of the Cow Fund and so many stories and personal reflections. The present Board wants to thank the Southborough Conservation Commission, the media, our past and present Board members and everyone who has loved, supported, volunteered and enjoyed the cows on the Breakneck Hill Conservation Land.
Thank you,

The Breakneck Hill Cow Fund

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Tobie Spears
6 years ago

We are so sad to see the herd go.
Everytime we visit MA, we visit the oreo cows.
I’m glad some are staying across the street!
Thanks for sharing them with us for 14 years.
All our best,

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