There’s nothing more peaceful than a herd of cows contently chewing their cud. And there’s nothing better than having someone else take care of them while they are right out your doorstep. William Llewelyn, best known as Bill, grew up with cows. Five or six years ago, he sold his own cows and started renting out the barns. He and his wife Betsy own the farm as partners.
Brian Peila has filled the stalls with 300 Holsteins and Jerseys of his own and is a ready customer for the feed Bill sells.
Situated in Northfield, MA, Bill sells grain and hay and grows 340 acres of corn that is either sold by the ton or by a 50-pound bag as shell corn for heating purposes or as animal feed.
“We just finished combining, now we’re bagging it and selling it,” he said. He also grows 122 acres of corn for sileage that he sells to the man that rents his barn.
The farm is 540 acres altogether, 300 of it woodland. They rent 500 more acres to grow all the corn.
In 1954, the farm was milking only 70 cows when Bill’s father and mother Charles and Helen Llewelyn bought it. It was called Five Point Farm since it was made up of parts of five farms that made a whole.
His father believed in continuity and preserving farms. His own farm had started in Ludlow where he milked 30 to 40 cows and had chickens and sheep. “It was right next to Westover Air Force Base. They took over our land by eminent domain,” he said, only taking the farmland but not the house or barn or three acres immediately surrounding it.
“My father still wanted to farm, with my brother, Bruce. I was just a little guy.” They found Five Point Farm on Upper Farms Road after looking at a lot of places. His father kept the farm’s original name, and built the farm up to milking 150 Holsteins.
When Bill was still in college, and had just gotten married, in his mid-20s, his father had a bad accident and died. “My brother and I, we ran the farm. My mother was still the bookkeeper. She died and we took the farm over. My brother and I ran it.”
Five or six years ago his brother Bruce, who lives next door, retired. “I bought his interest out. I sold the cows and pursued a new career instead of retiring,” hence the ensuing grain business. He’s still trying to retire.
There are two barns with 200 stalls, a couple other barns and a double six milking parlor.
Bill is no stranger to excellence. When the pasture was filled with his Holsteins, he was a New England Green Pastures winner, with awards presented at the Eastern States Exhibition.
Now he and Betsy are awaiting the results of the National Corn Growers Association’s National Corn Yield Contest. They are both entered. This year’s highest bushel yield is 254 per acre, and the lowest is 210 bushels. They came in first place in the state last year in no-till/ strip-till, non-irrigated category. They have entered the contest since 1990, and have come in first every year but three. Categories include irrigated, non-irrigated, conventional and no till.
“Two supervisors literally follow it from combine to where its weighed, so you can’t mess around,” said Betsy. Their entrance way leading up the front steps is lined with trophies.
Outside, directly across from the cows, are four silos filled with 17,000 tons of shell corn. When the corn comes off the field, it contains 25 percent moisture. It goes into a continuous flow drier at 11 tons an hour. It’s dried to 16 percent, and then 2 percent more through forced air in the bin. Feed corn is cracked in a grinder. Shell corn is kept whole.
Betsy doesn’t miss helping out with calving. Bill doesn’t miss the milking, but he enjoys having the cows close at hand. “It’s better to look at them and not worry about them,” he said.