Page 155 - The Hunt - Spring 2019
P. 155

                 These days, female dairy farmers are a rare sight in our region. Remarkably, you’ll find two of them at Bailys Dairy on Pocopson Meadow Farm. Bernard Baily’s daughters, Meredith and Becky, are integral to that fourth-generation operation. The last dairy farm with a West Chester, Pa., address, it produces 100-percent natural hormone-free milk and dairy products.
For 30 years, Bailys has pioneered and developed the award- winning, grass-fed American Lineback, a rare breed of dairy cattle. Eighty percent of the family’s herd, Linebacks are an old English breed recognizable by their speckles, dark muzzles, dark ears, and the white stripes on their backs. The rest of the Bailys herd is made up of purebred Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Holstein, Jersey and Dairy Shorthorn cattle. “We have such a mix,” says Meredith. “My family couldn’t agree, so we have them all.”
The herd continues to produce 1,500-1,600 gallons of raw milk a week. There’s a major co-op pick-up by Land O’Lakes each week. The family bottles and sells the rest to local markets and restaurants. They also have their own farm store. “It sure is better than selling only wholesale,” Bernard says of the market, which opened in 2010. “But it’s still no bed of roses.”
That could soon change. The Bailys are planning to convert from traditional A1 milk to an A2 protein supply, which favors the lactose intolerant and is less likely to trigger allergies.
“We’re working toward it,” says Meredith, who’s hoping to certify the entire herd. “Some say they can’t drink milk,” says Bernard. “But people who can’t drink other milk can drink ours.” “It’s more than grass fed,” Meredith adds. “There’s some science to it.”
Bernard’s paternal grandfather began the dairy with 28 cows, which was enough to earn a living in his day. But when his dad died of cancer at 35 in 1981, the current Bernard—an only child—was the future. “It all fell on me,” he says.
These days, Bernard serves as “senior advisor” to his daughters. He’s “happy as a clam” to attend herd auctions, and even happier that his farm and business could survive for the long haul.
“We’ve made him start going to the doctor,” says Meredith of
her father. “He hadn’t gone in 30 years.”
Bernard’s grandfather, Eusebius Barnard Baily, bought the
farm from an English relation in 1874. It began as 130 acres, and Bernard sold 53 of those in 2004, when he thought he’d have to retire to survive. That land is now a housing develop- ment, and two-thirds of its residents shop in the farm’s market. “They’re the reason we’re still here, really,” Meredith says. “Their kids ride their bikes here for ice cream.”
Just then, a local customer appears. She’s looking to buy eggs for breakfast, but Bernard is ready to put her to work. “You know how it is with the young ones,” he says. “You need to get them working before they get their phones out.”
Eric Cockroft, Becky’s husband, verifies the sighting: “I saw her, and I asked, ‘Are you working today?’ She said, ‘No—but Bernard thinks I am.’”
Third-generation dairy farmer Bernard Baily.
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