Page 157 - The Hunt - Spring 2019
P. 157

                 Bernard Baily’s laugh is hearty, distinc- tive, even rejuvenating. “Everyone knows it,” his daughter Meredith says.
Not many old farmers are laughing these days. “More are crying,” says Bernard. “The price of nearly everything else has gone up, and only milk goes down. We’re getting $13 for 100 (wholesale) pounds— but we got that 25 years ago. I can go up
to the attic and get my mother’s receipts, and they’ll tell me that we were getting $12 or $13 back then. Tell me one other thing that’s the same price as it was 25 years ago.”
Corporate milk processing plants are squeezing out every last drop of small dairy farmers’ income and incentive. Their cows get sold at auction for slaughter, and their land becomes fodder for housing develop- ments. “It’s one thing knowing that you’re selling cows to another farm. But it’s another thing to load them onto a trailer (destined for a slaughter house),” says Meredith.
The stress is leading to documented suicides and intervention programs. “It makes you wonder when—and what if. But I don’t know anything else,” says Bernard from the on-site bottling facility the family added in 2009 as part of a reorganization. “I thought I was going to retire—then [Becky] said she wanted to keep the cows. She saved me from selling them.”
Becky typically handles the day’s 3 a.m. shift, 12 hours ahead of the second one at 2:30 p.m. “I never wanted to not milk cows,” she says. “It’s a generational thing.”
Fresh milk, eggs and ice cream at the farm store.
As far back as elementary school, Becky dreamed of being a veterinarian. By high school, though, she just wanted to work with her own cows. Meredith earned a business degree and moved to southern Delaware. But she missed her family and farm life. “There’s just something about coming home,” she says. “If milking the cows helps keep us here ...”
Meredith’s 12-year-old son, Tyler, is the future at Bailys. A budding fifth-generation dairy farmer, he, like his mother and aunt before him, is a member of the same Chester Valley Jersey 4-H Club Mildred Seeds started in 1957. There are four in Chester County, with just 10 members in Tyler’s club and maybe 50 in all. “The dairy program used to consist mostly of farm kids who lived on their family farm,” says Meredith. “Now, most of them are
non-farm kids who ‘lease’ a cow to raise from a farm in their community. It’s still a wonderful program. We’ve seen 4-H lease kids go on to be veterinarians, environmen- tal engineers, nutritionists and agricultural lawyers. But it just shows the decline in the number of dairies over the years.”
Today, Tyler is walking Halo, a two-month-old calf. All Bailys cows have names that fall in an A-to-Z sequence— and Halo is a rare perfect Lineback- Gloucester mix, with her solid coloring,
red legs, white garters, and the traditional white line down her back. She’ll show for the first time this summer at fairs in Chester County. “We haven’t had that pattern in years,” says Meredith.
Halo has already been tested and certified as an A2 milk producer. “He’s
a lucky little guy,” his mother says of Tyler, who’s also in charge of the farm’s ducks, chickens and rabbits. “His pop-pop is proud.”
Bailys milk isn’t ultra-pasteurized like the supermarket product that requires a longer shelf life. This helps maintain its flavor and the layer of cream on top. Every season, the cream is a different color and flavor, depending on the grazing pasture. On the earliest spring days, the color of the cream goes from bland winter white to an almost golden hue later on.
“Dairies bred for production for so long,” says Becky. “Now, quality can be tied to heritage again, so we’re sending it backwards, really.”
 A few of the many different breeds at Bailys.
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