By Jerry Zezima
The Stamford Advocate
Even though I have always been more apt to milk a joke than a cow, which can create udder confusion (see what I mean?), I have long wanted to be a gentleman farmer.
First, of course, I’d have to become a gentleman, which would ruin my reputation, or what’s left of it.
Then I’d have to buy the farm, which both my banker and my doctor say I am not ready to do.
So I recently did the next best thing: I went to Ty Llwyd Farm in Northville, New York, on the North Fork of Long Island, and met Dave Wines, who is both a gentleman and a farmer.
I also met June-Bug, a calf who has developed a bond with my 3-year-old granddaughter, Chloe.
Chloe previously visited Ty Llwyd, a Welsh name pronounced Tee Luid, meaning “Brown House,” with her mommy, my younger daughter, Lauren, a member of the Southold Mothers’ Club, which arranged the trip.
“The kids had a nice time,” Dave recalled. “June-Bug took a liking to your granddaughter. She gave her lots of kisses and wanted to follow her out.”
“Maybe June-Bug will like me, too,” I said hopefully.
But first I watched as Dave meticulously planted a row of carrots. It was in a part of the 30-acre farm on the east side of the, yes, brown house. At the entrance, where there’s a west side story, visitors are greeted with these signs: “New York Permitted Raw Milk,” “Chicken Manure” and “Caution: Ducks.”
Dave, who’s 67 and fit as a fiddle, even though he doesn’t play one, was on his hands and knees, holding a little plastic doohickey (a farming term meaning “doohickey”) that contained carrot seeds. He used his right index finger to tap the seeds, one by one, into a long indentation in the dirt.
“Do you like our modern equipment?” asked Dave, adding that the farm has been in his family since 1872.
As he inched his way along, a process that took half an hour, Dave told me about an uncle of his who lived off the land and was, as a result, strong and healthy.
“He was in his 80s and his doctor had put him on a special diet,” Dave remembered. “He came over one day and said he wasn’t on the diet anymore. I asked him why. He said, ‘My doctor died.’ ”
Dave isn’t on a special diet, even though his doctor is still alive, but he does abstain from alcohol.
“When people find out what my last name is, they say I should open a winery,” Dave said. “But there are enough of those out here. Besides, I’m a teetotaler. I drink milk.”
I have more than made up for Dave’s lack of wine consumption, but I am now sold on his milk, which is the best I have ever tasted.
His son Christopher, who lives on the farm, is Ty Llwyd’s “milk man,” said Dave, adding that he has another son, Thomas, who lives in Boston, and a daughter, Judy, who lives in upstate New York.
“They’re in their 30s,” Dave said. “I forget their exact ages because the numbers keep changing. It’s hard to keep up.”
Dave’s wife, Liz, was born in Wales, where she and Dave were married.
“Today is our 42nd anniversary,” Dave announced proudly.
When I wished the delightful couple a happy anniversary, Liz said, “I’m celebrating by collecting eggs.”
She said the farm’s 1,200 chickens produce 65 dozen eggs a day. She also said Ty Llwyd has 33 cows.
“How much milk do they produce?” I asked Dave.
“A lot,” he answered, adding, “I told you I’m bad with numbers.”
After giving me a tour of the farm, which has plenty of modern equipment, Dave introduced me to June-Bug, who was in a fenced-in area with her fellow calves: Cassandra, Cricket, Flower, Millie and Twinkle. They all had name tags on their ears.
“Hi, June-Bug,” I said. “I’m Chloe’s grandfather.”
The sweet calf walked up and started kissing me with her large, rough tongue. The others kept their distance.
“She likes you,” Dave noted.
“It must run in the family,” I bragged.
“When she’s old enough, you should come back and milk her,” Dave said. “And that’s no joke.”
Copyright 2016 by Jerry Zezima