Farm

This 200 year old farm is located in a secluded hollow, one mile from the nearest neighbor, along an old dirt road named for the Kesslers, an early Lanesborough FarmOverPonddairy farming family. The road
itself has become a cathedral of trees leading to the farm. The canopy gives way to open sky, fields, and FarmSignponds, and you see the farm much as it has looked for two centuries. This tiny valley nestles at the foot of Mt. Greylock and drains north and south, providing headwaters for both the Housatonic and Hoosic Rivers.
Until the invention of asphalt, Kessler Road was a bad-weather alternative to the main road between Williamstown and Pittsfield, and it eventually hosted at least five other farmhouses.  The decline in New England farming between 1870 and 1950 led to the abandonment of all the early SouthOverPondhomes on Kessler Road, except this farm.  Land parcels had to be sold off, but happily, the Phelps family, abutters to the north, bought a large piece, and they are now the last dairy farmers in this part of Berkshire County. For the past 100 years, farming in this area has been a labor of love.

In 1987, the Bartons bought the core of the old Kessler property, about 150 acres including the farmhouse and several outbuildings, one an original barn dating from 1790.  Years later, 100 acres was sold to MA Wildlife Conservation to forever protect several species of rare wildflowers. With ongoing restoration work, the farm became home for horses, sheep and chickens, and the hay loft holds up to 1,000 bales, enough for toug14GlowingSheephest Berkshire winters.

The animals were heritage breeds, ancient strains not bred to maximize market value, but that have retained natural hardiness, higher resistance to diseases and injury, and ability to thrive on a broader range of diets. They are easy and good as parents and babies. These qualities make them ideal for part-time farmers like the Bartons who wanted off-farm time for family, work, and volunteering.

Sky Dance is home to numerous gardens, and in the past, up to 150 creatures– several horses, six dozen chickens, 60 Navajo-Churro sheep, and sometimes Tamworth pigs.  The barn is subdivided to accommodate the differing needs of the animals, and the fields outside have been divided into 7 pastures to allow rotational grazing.  There have always been 2-3 dogs, allowed to roam the property freely to protect the sheep and chickens and announce visitors.