Farms rely on tourism to draw fall buyers
Reakes Country Goods is one of 13 in Cortland County that rely on agritourism for income.


Photos by Bob Ellis/staff photographer    
Kevin Rose, 7, left, and his brother Kyle, 10, of DeRuyter, pump water as they do battle in the duck race. The water pumps are just one of several activities available for kids at Reakes Country Goods in Truxton.

Staff Reporter

TRUXTON — Reakes Country Goods on Route 13 attracted visitors from across the county Saturday with its pirate pumpkin patch maze and other attractions.
The farm is among 13 Cortland County farms that engage in agritourism, which offers activities that include visiting a working farm or any agricultural, horticultural or agribusiness operation that teachers or entertains visitors.
Kevin Peck, of Homer, visited the farm with his three children and wife on Saturday.
“We brought the kids for the activities outside,” he said.
Kay Reakes, who owns the farm with her husband, Darrel, said they supplement their income with the things they sell in the antique and gift shop, along with produce, cookies and pies.
“We appreciate the people who are willing to drive out to the farm,” she said. “By buying at the farm, you don’t have to pay the middleman.”
Monika Roth, an agricultural developmental specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County, said the only way some farmers can sustain their farm is through agritourism. Cortland County farms typically make between $40,000 and $100,000 a year selling products directly to the public, which includes agritourism, Roth said.
“It is a way to attract more people,” Roth said. “It could be a primary income or an additional income. It is the only way some farms can survive.”
The Reakes have four crops that are native to their land —cucumbers, pumpkin, squash and sweet corn. Reakes said early rain contributed to a lower crop yield.
“We were very fortunate that most of our crops came in well,” Reakes said. “But we didn’t get the quantity and acreage that we usually get.”
She said because their farm has a lot of shale, which lifts the vine, their crop was protected. Reakes said some farmers lost most of their crops.
Reakes Country Goods is open from March to December.
Linda Underwood, of Gladtime Farms in Homer, said she had a you-pick pumpkin patch and corn maze, but this year, there wasn’t a lot of revenue.
“There weren’t as many pumpkins,” Underwood said. “There was too much rain. Statewide, pumpkin production was way down.”
Darrel Reakes said he is not sure what keeps people coming back.
“We don’t know if people come back for the new things or if people just like the place,” Darrel said.
Customers like Nancy Homer, who for the last year has made the 18-minute drive from Cortland every weekend, comes because “it is my favorite place.”
“I’m here every weekend,” Homer said. “It’s got everything I want. I never come without buying something.”
Twelve years ago the Reakes moved their business from a wooden table across the street to a remodeled milk house. Reakes credits the expansion to local support and vacationers.
Melissa Rose, of Dryden, has visited the farm for the past seven years with her family. She said they come to Reakes in every season. Rose said they come in the summertime to get corn and in the winter, and in about three weeks they will return for their Christmas tree.



County flu vaccine clinics postponed

Staff Reporter

CORTLAND — The Cortland County Health Department will be postponing a majority of public flu clinics scheduled for this week due to delays in the shipment of flu vaccines.
Limited supply has forced the department to indefinitely postpone clinics Wednesday in McGraw and Willet, Thursday in Virgil and Friday in Scott, said Jackie Gailor, director of the Health Department.
Clinics scheduled for Tuesday will go on as planned at the County Office Building on Central Avenue in Cortland and at the senior housing complex at 51 Port Watson St., Cortland, but will only be open to people who have already made an appointment, Gailor said.
Clinics were also held today with a few small shipments of vaccine the county received over the weekend. Gailor said it was important to note that there is merely a delay in shipment, not a shortage of vaccines.
“The big thing is, flu season isn’t here yet, there’s still time and when we get enough shipments to hold clinics, we will get information out there,” Gailor said, adding flu season generally begins in December or January.
Gailor said the delay was a problem nationwide, and, to the best of her knowledge, was due to the slow growth of some of the cultures used by manufacturers of the vaccines.
The county has ordered a total 1,600 vaccines from a number of different distributors, she said, and to this point it has received a few hundred.
Although she was not sure when all of the vaccines would arrive, Gailor expected a shipment sometime this week, and was confident the vaccines would arrive on time.
“We’re about three weeks behind last year’s schedule,” she said. “Physicians offices don’t have it yet either, so there’s just a small supply in community, but it is coming, there’s not going to be any shortage.”
Until more vaccines arrive, Gailor said that good respiratory hygiene — frequently washing hands, coughing into the upper end of the arm and staying out of public settings with cold-type symptoms — was the best way to avoid flu.



Man hurt in Cuyler crash shortly after wife found dead

Staff Reporter

CUYLER — An Onondaga man crashed his car in Cuyler on Saturday afternoon, just moments before his wife was found dead in his home. Police said this morning he is a suspect in her apparent murder.
According to State Police, Michael J. Neely, 52, of 4869 Broad Road, Onondaga, crashed his car on Route 13 at around 1:30 p.m. Saturday. At around 1:40 p.m., Onondaga County Police Officers found his estranged wife, Linda Neely, 45, unconscious in his bathroom.
Sgt. John D’Eredita said this morning that Linda Neely later died at the scene. He was unsure what time she was pronounced dead, saying that she died “shortly after paramedics arrived.”
“There are no new developments in the homicide investigation,” he said.
When asked if there were any suspects in the murder, D’Eredita would only say, “Her husband is a person of interest.”
A friend of the family found Linda Neely unconscious in the bathroom of the residents and immediately called 911, police said. When officers arrived, they attempted to revive her, but were unsuccessful and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
D’Eredita said his department believes Linda Neely was murdered but would not say how she was killed.
“We are not releasing that at this time,” he said.
Police said that Linda Neely had been living at the home where she was found, but recently moved out with two teenage children.
State Police said this morning that Michael Neely’s car crashed into a tree while traveling south on Route 13 in Cuyler. Police said they did not know what caused the accident.
Michael Neely was transported to University Hospital in Syracuse. Hospital officials listed him in good condition this morning. No arrests had been made in the murder investigation as of this morning.




Predictions, mysticism at Cortland Psychic Fair

Staff Reporter

Fortunetellers put forth prognostications with anything from auras to stones at the second annual Cortland Psychic Fair this weekend.
About 600 to 700 people attended the event, according to the Holiday Inn, the event’s host. The hotel is planning on holding the event again next year.
Lee Seaward, one of the event’s promoters and an owner of Two Hawks Gallery in Homer, said last year’s successful psychic fair sparked this year’s fair.
“Last year was very successful,” Seaward said. “A lot of people were asking for something like this.”
Barbara Konish, who has been a practicing psychic for more than 20 years, said venues like the fair “create a forum for people to do what they want to do.” Konish said she is a medium, psychic and spiritual life coach among other things.
John Workman, 11, was accompanied to the fair by his mother. He had an aura photograph taken by a specialty camera. Psychics claim aura photographs photograph one’s aura by measuring the electromagnetic field around his or her body. The photograph maps the person’s energy vibration, which is analyzed and translated into a color vibration that corresponds to the person’s unique energy levels. The meanings of the colors in the aura can then be read.
“It will help explain some of the things I don’t get in my life,” Workman said. “It will help me decide what path to take in my life.”
Between Reiki treatments— which involve practitioners placing their hands on clients bodies to get energy flowing and heal the clients — and spiritual readings, patrons were encouraged to attend lectures discussing everything from animal messengers — “messages brought to us by the animals appearing in our lives,” to metaphysics of stones.
“I come for the stones,” said Virginia Brown. “I come for the healing properties of herbs and how they can heal my body.”