There will be no charges against Northfield’s famed “Egg Man,” after five horses were rescued from his farm last Friday.
Northfield Police made the announcement Tuesday, while asking for the public’s help in caring for the horses, which had been living in alleged unhealthy conditions in a dilapidated barn on the 85 Zion Hill Road property of 90-year-old Bert Southwick, who delivered eggs to local residents by horse-drawn cart for 75 years, before recently retiring because of declining health.
Police were first informed of the reported conditions at the farm and investigated the claims on April 25, according to a release from Northfield PD, which states officers were concerned by their observations.
The investigation included several interviews with individuals with knowledge into the workings of Southwick’s farm, including caretaker Harold Kelley, who told the Union Leader he was overwhelmed by the responsibility of looking after the farm on his own, in addition to holding down a full-time job, which led to conditions inside the barn deteriorating.
Police say they believe the horses were at risk because of an ongoing lack of care. Southwick, however, has been hospitalized often in recent years and the police release states: “... it should be clear that Bert was not at the property or responsible for the care of the horses on the property over the period of time that conditions for the animals deteriorated. There are not pending criminal charges forth coming in regards to Bert Southwick.”
With the help of a state veterinarian and the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, the horses were taken from the barn on Friday and brought to Live and Let Live Farm in Chichester, a non-profit horse and animal rehabilitation rescue sanctuary.
The release further states: “There were four stallions and one mare, in need of adequate nutrition, dehydrated, and in various stages of extreme muscle atrophy and depleting health.”
The horses, which are in need of care, are also being monitored for potential internal parasites and respiratory issues. Two large hogs, including a pregnant sow, were also rescued and taken to another location.
Northfield Police say the investigation is ongoing. In the meantime, they are asking those able to help financially to contact Teresa Paradis, the executive director at Live and Let Live Farm.
The farm is a registered 501c3 organization operated by hundreds of volunteers, dozens of which helped with the Northfield rescue, and Paradis said the costs rise rapidly, especially when it comes to horse care.
“You’re looking at thousands of dollars in surgeries, thousands of dollars in hoof care and dental care,” she said. “It’s $5,000 a trailer load for hay, and we use one every three weeks. Grain is $3,000 month, and medical bills run from $3,000 to $5,000 a month.”
Paradis said donations are always needed. More information is available at www.liveandletlivefarm.org or by phone at 798-5615.