CANASTOTA, NY – It’s fitting that the Northeast Highland Cattle Association came together at Matt and Wendi Campbell’s Ridgeville Farm for their annual meeting because of their 24-year Highland cattle love affair that started with a trip for ice cream.
Matt recalled the family going out for an evening ice cream cone and ending up at Registered Highland Cattle Breeder, Gene Smith’s Cazenovia farm. “A week later, seven head of cattle were munching grass on our farm, and the rest, they say, is history,” said Matt.
Today the registered herd of 40 enjoys 148 acres of pasture nestled in Oneida Lake’s mucklands. The host farm welcomed farmers from six states as well as over 50 visitors from the surrounding area to learn more about the horned purebred breed, the organization and what it takes to raise cattle successfully.
The Northeast Highland Cattle Association is a diverse group of Highland cattle breeders from across the Northeast who have promoted Scottish Highland cattle throughout New England and New York agriculture for over 50 years. The member-driven organization focuses on furthering Highland cattle promotion, education and agricultural heritage breed biodiversity preservation. It offers opportunities to adult and youth members through shows, conferences, classified advertisement marketing, agricultural networking and farm tours.
The members also host “traveling” social events, including this year’s Annual Meeting in Central New York with outgoing president Matt Campbell chairing discussions on marketing strategies, membership needs, finances and election of new officers and board directors. A new slate of officers was selected to lead the organization: John Chotkowski, president; Miriam May, vice-president; Virginia Green, secretary; Sheila Washburn, treasurer; and directors Margaret Meldrim, Kelly Morris and Dick Leclar.
The relaxing day on the farm featured a pasture tour, a first-ever photo contest, a silent auction, games, an onsite barbecue food truck and novelty ice cream selections paying homage to the Campbells’ first cows.
“We were blessed to see old friends and meet new ones that may enjoy the rugged, easy-calving, docile and easy-adapting Highland breed for small operations to get started with,” said Matt. “We’ve had a memorable experience raising cattle with our family and appreciate being able to share our story with others.”
by Troy Bishopp