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294 Dartmouth College Hwy (Rte.10) Lyme, NH 03768
Bailey Farm, Lyme, NH
It’s November and a time when packs of coyotes roam the fields at night near where 1000 Thanksgiving White Holland turkeys are housed on the Bailey Farm in Lyme, NH. “Don’t worry about waking me,” says Dan Bailey who owns the farm with his wife Millie. “I can’t sleep anyway.” After all, one coyote much less a pack, could wipe out the flock that he has been nurturing for six months, feeding his birds an expensive mixture of ground soybean and corn with a few squash added to the yard to peck at. Arriving soon was a friend with some traps.
Dan was just as emphatic about importance of exercise for his turkeys; lots of walking around in the fresh air adds to the health of the birds, and lends to the flavor that his buyers crave. “Our turkey breasts are broad and meaty, not pointy with no meat like the organic one I bought out of curiosity last year,” says this proud New Hampshire farmer with his glorious whiskers, round reddish face, great twinkle in his smile and eye. Clearly, Dan Bailey could serve as the farm store’s Christmas Santa.
The Bailey farm began as a dairy farm with Dan’s father over 60 years ago. Today, that heritage endures, at least partially, with 100 head of Holsteins and 40-50 milking. He sells his milk to HP Hood- Booth Brothers Dairy. And part of his effort to diversify the farm, Dan also grows a few potatoes with plans for a larger crop next year.
As with so many of today’s farmers, Danny’s interest in turkeys began with 4-H fair competition when he was ten years old. The 4-H leader took him to get his first dozen turkeys, and he has raised turkeys ever since. “Not much left of 4-H around here,” he says “ I tried to get one going 15-20 year ago, but only women interested in weaving and knitting showed up. Today it might be different with more women farmers around.”
His White Holland Turkeys are bred for meat. Chicks are delivered July 4th weekend and the weekend before Thanksgiving, a group of 12 helpers butcher birds at night and clean them during the day before, icing them down for pick-up Monday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving. “The few leftovers left, they sell frozen at Christmas time.” And while turkey parts might be in demand, he does not sell them because keeping the coolers running is prohibitively expensive.
Dan’s turkeys average about 20 pounds and sales rely primarily on word of mouth. As the Bailey birds’ reputation grows, corporations are beginning to take note, placing orders for their employees as holiday gifts. “Better than a quart of Bourbon which they go home and drink too much of, he says. “also turkey is for the whole family.” Signal Aviation, West Lebanon, Derby Mountain Construction, Lyme NH and Linear & Metric in Londonderry are three of the fortunate businesses he supplies.
As part of Dan’s effort to diversify beyond increasing their potato production, Bailey Farm is offering a greater variety of goods in their farm store. To eggs and frozen offerings such as chickens and poultry sausages, Millie has added her home baked pies to the store shelves.
Dan & Millie Bailey
294 Dartmouth College Hwy
Lyme, NH 03768
603-795-4528 (to place a turkey order)
Retail: (direct to customer sales)
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