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Farrier's horse farm fares well.

Byline: Ellie Oleson

OXFORD - While most Central Massachusetts farmland is being turned into housing, industrial property or perhaps a golf course, selectmen last night approved a plan to keep five to eight horses on a new 15.6-acre farm at 277 Prospect St. being built by a farrier on the northern edge of town.

John M. "J.M." Hall Jr., 31, makes his living the old-fashioned way, as a farrier, caring for horses' hooves.

"A farrier deals with horses. A blacksmith is more general," said Mr. Hall's future father-in-law, Gary P. Pike of 40 Eddy St., Auburn.

Mr. Pike said any horse that will be on a hard surface needs horseshoes, which must be nailed on by a farrier.

"You nail to the white of the nail, the hoof wall. Don't hit the frog - that's the sensitive area in the center," Mr. Hall said.

He has about 20 customers, whose horses each need their hooves trimmed and shoes replaced every six to eight weeks, which keeps him busy.

Mr. Hall has been working as a farrier since he was 16 years old and now is one of the few certified farriers in this area. Not one is listed in the Oxford telephone book, and only one blacksmith is in the Worcester telephone book.

There are 21 farriers listed in Massachusetts on www.farrier.com. These include Bonnie J. Watrous of Northboro, Ken Lepage of Uxbridge and Eric John of Grafton.

Mr. Hall met his fiancee, Megan M. Pike, when she was doing her farming internship at the University of Connecticut on Mr. Hall's farm in East Hampton, Conn.

In a tradition as old as farming, Mr. Hall is turning some acreage abutting his future father-in-law's farm on Eddy Street into a new farm, complete with horses.

"I've always had horses," Mr. Hall said. He owns Belgian draft horses, which each can weigh up to 2,800 pounds.

Sheila S. Donohue, animal control officer and animal inspector, said she inspected Mr. Hall's land for the proposed paddocks and barn.

She said, "They have a great plan. If I were a horse, I'd love to live there."

Selectmen unanimously approved the special permit for horses.

Selectman Henry J. LaMountain suggested that Mr. Hall next get an agricultural permit from the Board of Appeals, "so that you can have any animals you want."
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Mar 5, 2008
Words:390
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