Lanark Farm going strong after four decades
By Cheryl Petersen
Circa 1852, Scottish immigrant James Fletcher began farming between Margaretville and Andes. Years later, Tom Doig rode his horse over the hill from Gladstone Hollow and met Margaret Fletcher, one of the Fletcher daughters. Tom Doig proposed marriage to Margaret and the Doig name merged permanently to the farm, now known as Lanark Farm at the eastern foot of Palmer Hill on Route 28.
Tom Doig, followed by his son, William (Bill), worked the land. Bill’s son, James, grew up on the farm but joined the service in his 20s, returning to live in Deposit. From James came Jack, who, as a child would live at Lanark Farm during summer vacations and work for his granddad, Bill.
“After granddad Bill died in 1972, Susan and I were asked us if we wanted to move and live in the farmhouse and we said yes,” said Jack Doig. “We moved here in 1973, 40 years ago. I’ve always loved the farm.”
Lanark Farm has 180 acres and Jack holds fond memories of returning each summer to help his grandparents during haying season.
“He paid me $100 at the end of the summer. That was a lot of money back then,” said Jack, who lived in Deposit with his family during the school year.
In the family annals, it’s been recorded that James Fletcher had three daughters: Margaret Fletcher, the soon to be wife of Tom Doig; a sister who died in her teen years; and Elizabeth Fletcher, who never married. “Elizabeth however was an international traveler and the local school teacher,” said Jack. “The old school house where she taught still stands about a mile from the farm.”
In the early 1900s the farm raised cash crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Trucks would drive up to the farm from New York City and return with loads of farm- fresh produce. The farm was also home to a dairy.
While Jack’s grandparents lived on the farm, they had a hard time maintaining the house. Therefore, “Susan and I needed to renovate the old farm house when we moved here,” said Jack. “We renovated one room, or one project, at a time, and finished up a few years ago.” New insulation, rewiring, fixtures, flooring, and features are enjoyed today.
Jack and Susan Doig raised two boys on the farm. Nathan and Adam, both of whom graduated from Andes Central School, earned bachelors degrees in college, and married young ladies from Long Island. Nathan works as an Environmental Conservation Officer and lives in Walton. Adam works as a financial planner and lives in Saratoga.
“I remember a photo that was printed in the Catskill Mountain News,” said Jack Doig. “It was a picture of Adam, when he was about five years old, standing next to our veterinarian, Dr. All, and a Hereford cow. With Dr. All speaking, the caption read, ‘I’ve doctored cattle on Lanark Farm for five generations of Doigs.’ That’s quite a feat.”
“The farm was a great place to teach responsibility,” said Susan Doig. “Both Jack and I worked off the farm.” Jack retired as Maintenance Supervisor from SUNY Delhi in 2006. Susan continues to work, after 29 years, at Coldwell Banker Timberland Properties.
“When the boys were old enough to take care of themselves, I’d come home for lunch at noon from the real estate agency,” recalled Susan. “One day, they were still in bed. So, Jack and I bought calves for them to take care of. The reason to get up in the morning also turned into a financial gain for them.”
Today, Hereford cattle are bred with Angus for High-bred Vigor cows. Lanark Farm purchases the cows after they are weaned, in the fall. “They live on the farm for two years,” said Jack. “The cows are treated like babies and eat only grass and a special feed mix.”
On May 1 each spring, the cattle are let out to pasture. “I’ve developed a feeding/pasturing system that maximizes grass and meat growth,” said Jack. The farm is split into paddocks, basically marked out plots of separate pastures. Grazing continues in each paddock until the grass is shortened to about three or four inches. The cattle are then moved to the paddock with grass about a foot high. Each paddock has a spring fed watering source. “This way, the cows never need to hunt for their food. They never get too much exercise. Their salad of grass is right under their nose,” said Doig.
Lanark Farm sells grass-fed beef locally and downstate. “Customers know they are receiving quality meat,” said Jack.
“We aim to supply the customer’s desires to know where their food comes from, and to eat healthy meat.” Meat sold by Lanark Farm is free of antibiotics, preservatives, and additives. It is also rich in omega-3 and other useful nutrients.
“Customers purchase a quarter, half, or whole cow,” said Doig, who also sets up the slaughtering and packaging. Orders are placed in June for September delivery. All the meat is dry aged for 10 to 14 days.
The farm has an element of self-sufficiency. “Susan and I get to travel every now and then,” explained Jack. “We have a cow-sitter, 100 percent reliable, to feed the cows, morning and night. Alisha Knapp, from New Kingston. We are tickled to work with her.”
In general, Susan and Jack hang around Lanark Farm. Wood heating causes smoke to float from the chimney on cold snowy days. They enjoy life and friends. “We belong to a supper club,” said Jack Doig. “
We get together with three other couples and talk about everything and anything, even cows. They all are gourmet cooks, so each meal is better than the last. The other night we shared a supper of homemade ravioli. We had so much fun we stayed out really late, 9 p.m. That’s late for us.”