"Cottonwood Stables"

Winooski, Colchester, Vermont

Horse Boarding

Jeff Senesac


Near Burlington; boarding for horses, all new stalls for 30 horses, an indoor riding arena that's 140 feet long by 72 feet wide, an outdoor riding area, equestrian equipment, and trails that will eventually cross over most of the 200 acre farm.

In Close Proximity to the University of Vermont, St Michael's College, Champlain College, Burlington College, and the Community College of Vermont

See their formal website!

Senesac hopes horses hold new life for farm

Hard work and long hours remain,
but stress of dairying is long gone

By MICHAEL UCALSI - The Colchester Sun

After generations of dairy farming, a Colchester family has decided to take a chance in a different profession, abandoning a familiar way of life in the hope of starting a new tradition that it hopes is full of opportunity and promise. Jeff Senesac's family was in dairy farming for more than 60 years, starting when his grandfather traded for 200 acres of land in Colchester and drove a herd of cattle from Morrisville in what was a three-day ordeal. Since then, Senesac Dairy Farm has operated on Malletts Bay Avenue, with Jeff purchasing the land from his father in the mid 1990s. "My father was born on this land and never, lived anywhere else", said Senesac. "He bought the farm from my grandfather about 1970, and my wife and I made a deal to buy it from him about six years ago".

But under the weight of falling milk prices, Senesac and his wife knew it was time for a change, and in March sold their cows and milking equipment. They closed Senesac Dairy Farm for good, renewing the land as Cotton Wood Stables, complete with boarding for horses, an indoor riding arena that's 140 feet long by 72 feet wide, an outdoor riding area, equestrian equipment, and trails that will eventually cross over most of the farm. "It is not easy work being in the dairy farming business," said Senesac. "We were going backward. Milk prices kept going down and the price of everything else kept going up - water, electric, everything." Senesac said he was making $11.30 per 100 pounds of milk, a price that had dropped from the time his father ran the farm. "We were talking about changing it over to a stable for four or five years," said Senesac. "Last spring was so bad, with the dropping prices and all, we had to do something." After selling the dairy equipment, Senesac, his father and a couple of friends worked six-day weeks for about six months getting the stable up and running, with the first horse boarded this past fall.

At Cottonwood Stables, horses are boarded and are cared for throughout the day. For Senesac, a regular day starts at 6 a.m. when he wakes to feed the horses. He fills their water buckets and gives them a couple hours to eat. Then the horses are put outside for exercise while their stables are rebedded and cleaned. After all the horses are brought in, he refills their water and feed buckets and checks on them throughout the night. There are eight horses in the stables, which can accommodate 30.

"I have to say I'm not sorry we made the change at all," said Senesac, noting that all farmers have it tough, with prices beyond their control, and feeling that their importance in the food industry is constantly overlooked. "It's an ironic situation. The people that are providing the necessities of life are barely able to make a living doing it", said Senesac. "That just doesn't seem right." As with farming, there is a lot of hard work that goes into running a stable. But, Senesac welcomes the change, believing that he and his family have gotten into a more secure industry. "There's as much physical work as before, but there's a lot less mental stress", said Senesac, who noted one of the most stressful things in the dairy world is the dependency on machinery, some of which is outdated and rickety. "Like an old car; a lot of the older dairy equipment wouldn't want to start in the winter", said Senesac. "It's really tough relying on a piece of equipment you're praying won't break down."

Other than the University of Vermont stables, Cottonwood Stables is the closest to Burlington, and is the newest. Senesac is hoping that by filling his stable with local horses, he'll be able to support the rest of his land, which he uses to grow crops and produce on the side. "It's definitely an exciting time", Senesac said. "With dairy farming, we felt we didn't really have a future. Now we feel like we have more opportunities to succeed".

To learn more about boarding horses with the Senesac's, call 655-0770