Auction ends dairy operation after 60 years THE FINAL ROUNDUP

September 17, 1992|By Meredith Schlow | Meredith Schlow,Staff Writer

Peering out from behind the white metal fence, Cow No. 1319 -- alias Steady Lil -- flicked her ears nervously as the auctioneer barked from the podium behind her.

"If you want some milk, fellows, this is the place to get it -- 88 pounds," Denny Remsburg said.

That's 88 pounds of milk a day -- more than 3,200 gallons a year. In other words, a lot of cow. Sold within minutes, Lil startled as the gavel came down, but ambled obediently out of the pen, making room for another.

Edrich Farms in Randallstown was the place to get milk producers yesterday, when about 100 dairy farmers took time away from their own herds to check out Edrich's 250 purebred Holsteins, whose sale put an end to the 60-year-old dairy operation.

The cows also represented about 6 percent of Baltimore County's dwindling dairy herd. The farm, purchased by brothers Edward and Richard Stanfield in 1957, will still produce corn, soy beans, alfalfa hay and barley, and the family will continue to run its lumber, nursery and furniture business.

But Edward Stanfield said two things convinced him that this was a good time to sell his herd: a good year for crops and a recent, but most likely temporary, upswing in the price of milk to $13 per hundredweight.

"This was a business decision," he said. "Milk to us, the producer, is bringing less than it did 12 years ago. And I think the environmental trend today, the processes of today, are making it more and more difficult to operate and make a profit. And you can't survive in business without a profit."

Finding competent farmhands for such a demanding profession isn't easy either.

"It's kind of a dying breed," Mr. Stanfield said.

For the other farmers who drove to Randallstown from three states yesterday, Mr. Stanfield's decision to go out of the business was an opportunity to increase their own herds.

Some came to watch, some came to buy, some came for moral support, sorry to see a fellow dairyman calling it quits.

"I'm here because Ed's a real nice guy," said Union Bridge dairy farmer Jim Stonesifer. "I should be home working, but I'm here to support Ed."

Bob Shaffer of Pandora Farms in Catlett, Va., knew exactly what he came for. Sitting in the second row of chairs set up in a barn, he spent $30,000 for 10 of Edrich's best cows. He had good advice -- from Edrich herdsman Dave Carper, who will join Mr. Shaffer's Virginia operation.

"You have to be lucky," Mr. Shaffer said, acknowledging the uncertainty of success on a farm.

"I like the satisfaction of going out, and being with the animals. Or coming to a sale like this and being recognized as a premier buyer."

The former pilot for United Airlines said he's spent $600,000 in the past 18 months, upgrading his herd from grade cows (the bovine equivalent of mongrels) to all purebreds.

His most expensive single purchase yesterday was $3,600, though he said he once spent $30,000 for one cow (and eventually made money on it).

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.