Summer Vacation – by Tim Farley

Main Street Cazenovia
Last summer I took a trip way into the past. Past the days on the farm, the nights camping, and the swims on the beach. Past the horses in the barn and the cats ‘mousing’ in the hay loft. Past the apple trees and the peaches and cherries and down the lane and all the way over to Cazenovia where my dad grew up!

Diving Board

Winter Plumes

Cazenovia, NY is a small lake town near Syracuse. It’s a beautiful place with rolling hills and farms that has seen a lot of history… and horses! Horses were everywhere when my great grandparents came over from Dublin. In the 1800s the stagecoach was running to the city daily, there were the horse races at Saratoga and, of course, on all the farms working horses were a way of life.



James Farley (Great Great Grandfather) 1805-1869

“Weeping friends as you pass by,

As you are now so was I,

As I am now so you must be,

Prepare for death and follow me.”

Life wasn’t easy in those days.

Grandfather Patrick Farley was running the “Grotto”, a boarding house and tavern when my Dad was born. There must have been nightly tales of adventure and excitement in the inn as many of the visitors were fresh from the old country of Ireland and World War 1 was just ending.



Granddad’s brother, Bill, was a retired Army Veterinary Corps Sargent and horse trainer. Uncle Bill introduced Dad to a lot of different ‘disciplines’ of horsemanship; jumpers, dressage, harness racing, a bit of everything. Bill was a “working trainer” and schooled whatever horse people paid him to work. People needed their horses to behave. Sometimes a horse would have developed bad habits and they would come to Bill to “fix” their problem, like the mechanic at a garage today tuning up your car that’s not running well. Dad wrote a really interesting book about his Uncle Bill and all this called: “The Horse Tamer” … check it out sometime!

After spending a little time in Cazenovia you can feel where Dad’s love of horses might have come from on those warm summer days. Just riding through the hills over to Fayetteville and his Uncle’s farm, must have been an experience he never forgot. Maybe it’s something in the water up there as Fayetteville is where Frank Baum, who wrote “The Wizard of OZ”, was born too!




The peak of summer excitement had to be getting ready for Saratoga and the races. There were the thoroughbreds and the big money on the main track but a lot of the time Dad and Uncle Bill worked on harness racing; the trotters and pacers. Night racing, the back of the track, is a different world … a bit grittier, not so glamorous but they sure know their horses and excitement.

When Dad had to move to Brooklyn with his parents during the Great Depression he kept his love of harness racing. We even had a few pacers of our own when I was growing up. He wrote about some of the adventures in “Blood Bay Colt” and ”Sulky Colt” if you’d like to learn more about the harness world.

sulky%20colt%20thumb.jpg bloodbay%20thumb.jpg

Buy the books here.

It had to be hard in those early years in Cazenovia for the 1800 Farleys. They traded the potato famine of Ireland for the cold and snowy winters of upstate New York. They came here to America with hope and made a new life. Thank God for their strength and bravery or the Black Stallion wouldn’t be here… and neither would I!

Thanks for reading and send us Your Summer Story on the Message Board!

Tim & everyone at Hopeful Farm.