Mary Farley Biography

The Mary Farley Award

By Shari Reyna

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 (b.5/28/1893 – d: 9/5/1959) 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.

(AMGRA Sec’y V. Byron Bennett)

In addition to her service as Judge, Director, Secretary and President of AMGRA, Mary Farley spoke frequently and eloquently on a wide varietyy 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 Lindsays’ 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 engineera 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.

A complete list of the recipients of the Mary L. Farley award can be found at the front of the ADGA Guidebook.

Mary L. Farley Award was established by the AMGRA Board of Directors in 1959 in honor of the late Miss Mary L. Farley, past-President and past-Secretary of the Association. It is given for outstanding work on behalf of the goat industry and is not necessarily awarded annually. Selection is done under the supervision of the Awards Committee of the Association.

  • 1959 – Mr. & Mrs. David Lindsay
  • 1962 – Dr. C.A.V. Barker, Head, Ontario Veterinary College, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, received the honor for his noteworthy research in the field of artificial insemination of dairy goats. Presenter of the Wesley Nordfelt, a vice president of AMGRA and chair of the Awards Committee, noted that Dr. Barker built on the initial work of Dr. Frazier, particularly in the use of frozen semen, to accomplish a major breakthrough which aided greatly in advancing the dairy goat industry.