Did You Know? Right to Farm By-Law

In the last few days, several communications have been sent about Spencer, a dwarf Nigerian goat who has escaped his easy life in a Lincoln backyard and hit the mean streets around Weston and Lincoln. With zero attempts at objectivity, let’s just say that Spencer is extremely cute and those of us (ahem) with a goat obsession, are greatly concerned by news of this character taking on Ogilvie Town Forest and its resident fisher. The lost pet flyer is at the end of this post. [Update 10:30 am: Spencer has been found and is safely at home. The flyer has been removed from the post].

Weston (and Lincoln) has a Right to Farm Bylaw which continues to apply in our semi-rural, but getting more mansion-y, town. Personally, the Owl loves to see the little beasties in the backyard (roosters not so much)–horses, goats, and chickens, and at least one wayward pig which escaped on 117 the other day. Since the Anza farm has shut down on Highland Street, the cow population has become seriously limited–in fact, if anyone is aware of any cows left in Weston, the Owl would love to know about it.

Sheep at a Weston farm

Article 97 of the Massachusetts constitution addresses the right to farm. Weston’s By-Law restates much of this article and you can read the full by-law when you’ve had your coffee but some of the pertinent parts are listed below.

The words “farming” or “agriculture” or their derivatives shall include, but not be limited to the following:
• Farming in all its branches and the cultivation and tillage of the soil;
• Dairying;
• Production, cultivation, growing and harvesting of any agricultural, aquacultural, floricultural, viticultural, or horticultural commodities;
• Growing and harvesting of forest products upon forest land, and any other forestry or lumbering operations;
• Raising of livestock, including horses;
• Keeping of horses as a commercial enterprise;
• Keeping and raising of poultry, swine, cattle, sheep, rabbits, ratites, camelids and other domesticated animals for food and other agricultural purposes, including fiber and fur-bearing animals

Emphasis is on “fur-bearing animals” as a citizen’s petition has been brought for Town Meeting regarding fur-bearing animals. You can read that petition here (Article 34). Note that “camelids’ are also allowed — Lincoln has some fluffy alpacas that the Owl’s somewhat brain-challenged dog is confused by every single time we walk by. We need some of alpacas too, Weston. Wouldn’t it be nice if Case Barn became an alpaca farm? Goat farm? Municipal goat herd out for hire on the garlic mustard on Town Green? Why not, Weston?

In any case, before you buy and install your pack of sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens, etc. you need to get a permit, pay $55, and have a nice visit from the Animal Control Officer. If you get horses, sheep or goats, you also get a visit from the Owl who loves them.

Enjoy your semi-rural community.

One comment

  • Betsy Czarnowski

    The goats could also eat the poison ivy in peoples backyards. Much safer then people trying to get rid of it themselves.

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