Special Awards Recognition

The Mary L. Farley Award – Established in 1959 to honor Mary L. Farley,  Past President (1950-52) and Past Secretary-Treasurer (1945-52). It is awarded for outstanding work on behalf of the dairy goat industry and may be given to an individual, a couple, or a partnership

Background – Mary Farley (1893-1959)

While most ADGA members are aware of the Mary L. Farley Award that is occasionally bestowed upon individuals or groups who have contributed very significantly to the dairy goat industry, many are not aware of the reason she was honored, only a month after her death, by creation of this ongoing award, Mary Farley (born May 28, 1893 – September 5, 1959) served AMGRA as both Secretary (1944-1949) and as President (1950-1952). She was born on a farm just outside Boston, MA, the youngest of five children in a family that could trace its “pedigree” back to two passengers on the Mayflower. An educated woman and highly skilled communicator, she taught college preparatory courses, worked as a magazine editor, served as claim adjuster for an insurance company and sold real estate.

After her father’s death in 1929, “Molly” (as she was known to friends and family) bought property on Zion’s Lane in Sherborn, Massachusetts – the farm for herself and her “lifelong friend and companion” Helen E. Farrar, and a home across the street for her mother. She raised and showed both Great Danes and Toggenburgs, the latter under the Zion herd name. Allen Rogers (who was himself honored with the Farley award in 1984) described her as a judge and breeder:

When I was first starting out in goats in 1933, she was the undisputed East Coast expert. While a true New England lady, she was very generous and unassuming to deal with. Probably the best-known judge in the area, I never heard a complaint about her fairness….Thinking it unladylike to bend over in the ring, many shows constructed raised boardwalks’ to facilitate examining the does. She never, of course, judged bucks….Her Togg herd was considered the best in the east. Very sound and typy little does with excellent udders-steady 3-4 quarter producers.” (2/20/95)

Mary followed Fred B. Kiefer as AMGRA secretary at a time when this position was critical to the growth and reputation of the organization. The 1950 AMGRA minutes reflect that she not only performed the ordinary duties of the AMGRA Secretary position, but gave AMGRA a stature it had not previously enjoyed,

We inherited from the former secretary an office which was unique among livestock registries. During the years when Miss Farley was secretary, the methods and procedures of handling the business of the registry were transformed to correspond identically with those of the greatest livestock registry in the country. All of this was accomplished with no appreciable increase in rates….This was a real contribution to the dairy goat industry, because it gave the industry the benefit of a first class registry in every sense of the word, at a point in its development when it could not financially support such a registry in the ordinary course of events….Mary L. Farley believed strongly enough that AMGRA should follow that best approved methods of registry procedures that she was willing to work nights, Sundays, holidays and lunch hours, at a very few cents per hour. The modernizing of the records was a gigantic undertaking, and to all practical intents and purposes was an outright gift by Miss Farley to the industry….a diamond from Tiffany’s set in a ring from Woolworth’s.” (V. Byron Bennett – AMGRA Sec’y)

In addition to her service as Judge, Director, Secretary and President of AMGRA, Mary Farley spoke frequently and eloquently on a wide variety of goat-related subjects, edited the New England Goat News and was a member of the AMGRA Standards Committee, representing Toggenburgs. After leaving the presidency of AMGRA, she remained active until eventually retiring with her friend Helen to Florida where she died of breast cancer in 1959. It was at the Annual Meeting in October of that same year that the AMGRA Board of Directors unanimously decided to establish the award named for her, to honor other individuals, couples or partnerships for “outstanding work on behalf of the dairy goat industry.

The first Mary L. Farley award was presented at the banquet following the 1959 Board Meeting where it was created. Mr. & Mrs. David Lindsay of Chimney Rock Goat Farm, Rutherford County, North Carolina, were the recipients. Presentation was made by Frederic B. Knoop, former president of AMGRA and a member of the Publicity Committee, who described the Lindsay’s annual grant of $2000 to the University of Missouri’s School of Veterinary Medicine supporting research on lymphadenitis in dairy goats and the trust fund they established at the University (the “David and Winifred Lindsay Fund”) for continuing research on the nutritional and medicinal value of goat milk and goat milk products (as well for studies focusing on the improvement of dairy goat breeding). Mr. Lindsay was a retired textile engineer, a banker, philanthropist and sportsman. Mrs. Lindsay, who served as an AMGRA Director for several years and was a past President of the National Toggenburg Club, owned and operated the Certified goat dairy in North Carolina, milking a herd of some 200 Toggenburgs and French Alpines

By Shari Reyna (2010)

Past Recipients

1959 – Mr. and Mrs. David Lindsay

1984 – Allan Rogers


Helen C. Hunt Distinguished Service Award – This award was renamed in honor of Helen C. Hunt, past Director and Judge for her outstanding service to the Association.  This award may be given annually to an ADGA member who has rendered distinguished service to ADGA over a period of years.

Background – Helen (Cummings) Hunt (1909 – 1995)

Helen Hunt remains, even after her death, one of the finest of examples for other breeders of dairy goats in America and especially so for all members of the American Dairy Goat Association. The ADGA Distinguished Service Award was re-established in her name in 1995 as the Helen C. Hunt Distinguished Service Award. No other member more deserved the honor of the naming of this award.

Helen was born March 17. 1909, in Bedford Hills, N.Y., daughter of the late John C. and Bertha (Seccomb) Hunt. She attended Milton Academy, Radcliffe and Cornell, majoring in ornithology. Moving to Washington, CT, in 1932, she established Shagbark Farm and began her animal breeding experience with Cairn Terriers. Later, she began breeding her famous Shagbark Toggenburg dairy goats there also, and became a national figure in both fields. Most of her long life was spent at the farm, until age forced her retirement. She died at 86 on September 23, 1995.

The latch-string was always out at Shagbark; breeders learned that the price for stock was always as reasonable as the quality was high. And a trip to the beautiful little farm, nestled as it was in the Connecticut hills, was like a journey to Eden. Helen employed a full time herdsman, who lived with his family in a separate residence at the farm. The herd was small, but Helen was a very practical person and her milkers produced excellent, flavorful milk which the farm was licensed to sell raw. Although she was left somewhat crippled in one hand and leg by polio when she was a youngster, Helen participated in the milking (which they did by hand) and other chores around the farm. Obviously, all decisions, small to large, from breeding to husbandry to housing, were hers to make.

As a breeder, she always brought her considerable intelligence to bear and used the knowledge she had gained during many years of experience, in making breeding decisions. As a conservative breeder, she did not practice in – or exclusive line-breeding, but her open mind made it possible for her to accept all kinds of breeding done by others, even as it was possible for her to accept as friends and equals all kinds of people. Goat breeding was not a hobby for Helen; it was her life-blood. Her interest in breeding was always in making over-all better animals; in perusing her breeding history it is obvious that at no time did she ever emphasize one aspect of quality over another. Due to assiduous attention to what she knew to be superior quality, her goats continued to gain in strength right up until the time she retired. The breeders who used her stock as a foundation reaped benefits in various strengths; in fact, still continue to do so.

Helen’s relationship to her customers was a fine example of her distinguished service to the dairy goat world. No question ever went unanswered; her promptness was legendary; her patience unlimited. She offered a helping hand to all who needed it; no holds barred because of race, religion, financial or social status, or age. Her understanding of human nature and lack of competitiveness was truly wonderful. Having no children of her own, her mind and heart were always open to young people wherever she found them. But of all her fine social and business qualities, her candid, impeccable honesty, even to herself, was the most outstanding.

Another facet of Helen’s life which offers such a splendid example of merit is her support of the American Dairy Goat Association and all its programs. She never missed a convention; she was a long time, and very hard working, district director as well as a judge. How many valuable programs she instigated for ADGA no one individual can tell. Her Shagbark herd, although small in numbers, was consistently enrolled in all the ADGA Performance Programs: DHIA in all its aspects beginning in 1948; producing official ADGA show winners in 1947. Not only was her herd scored in the first year of Classification (original designation of what later became Linear Appraisal), Helen spent considerable amounts of time and money supporting Classification, not only in the founding committee, but traveling around the country advising breeders of its value to their breeding programs.

Helen Hunt’s was a lifetime of distinguished devotion to dairy goats in many ways, and to the American Dairy Goat Association, with its service to members, in particular.

By June York Meacham, Houyhnhnm Toggenburgs